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The Sheep's Head Way
Hiking in Ireland
Hiking on the Sheeps Head Way on Baera peninsula in County Cork.
The Sheep's Head Way
Here, in Bantry, County Cork, I begin my hike along Sheep's Head Way.
The 93 km long and well-marked trail leads around the quiet and untouched Sheep's Head Peninsula.
Because of the proximity to the Gulf Stream, the climate here is very mild and pleasant all year round.
Along the route you will occasionally pass through small picturesque villages, where you can also stay overnight and eat.
For the complete trail I recommend taking five to six days. But there are also some beautiful smaller "loops" that each are connected to small parking lots, these I do recommend if you don't have time to walk the whole trail and still want to experience the area.
The complete hiking trail was awarded the EDEN Award for its sustainable tourism.
It is very well signposted along its entire length by signs such as these, and in good visibility you can always see the next one.
That's a good thing, because sometimes there are many alternatives and it's good if you can stay on course and don't suddenly find yourself somewhere on the edge of a cliff.
The trail is quite different in the individual stages, from easy to medium, everything is there.
However, it is advisable to have sturdy footwear with you in any case. Also the whole area is crossed again and again by small watercourses and thus the meadows are partly softened and also boggy.
If one is on the way immediately after a rain, one can even sometimes get the impression that the Irish word for path and for small rocky watercourse is certainly the same.
The weather can be very unstable on some days and can also change very suddenly. Weatherproof clothing is definitely the right choice.
During my hike I was lucky enough to see more than one weather at the same time.
This rain wall approached me quite fast. But it reassured me that I could estimate quite well how long the rain would keep me busy, and so I just let it go.
About halfway between Bantry and the tip of the island, you suddenly find traces of civilization in the midst of nature.
The abandoned settlement "the Crimea".
Agriculture was carried out here, the fields and paths are still clearly visible.
What has remained are the sturdy roofless houses and some auxiliary buildings.
It probably owes its name to two bitterly divided families.
Since, at the same time, a war raged on the distant Crimea, as a joke, the village became known to the inhabitants of the surrounding villages only as the Crimea, because it was also a place where the tensions ran high all the time.
Not far from the settlement you will find quite different remains.
In 1845 the Gortavallig Mining Company opened a copper mine out here. The workers came from Cornwall and were accommodated there. However, the company turned out to be a complete failure and so, after only three years, the mine was closed again in 1848 due to unproductiveness, after only a single load of copper ore had been mined in all that time.
Sometimes the path approaches the cliffs and opens spectacular perspectives.
For hours, I could watch the forces of the sea. Nevertheless, you should be aware every second in which unprotected terrain you are on your way and not risk too much.
From time to time there are small warning signs that do not allow you to continue.
If you come from our over protected world, you may not take some small signs seriously and await the second, maybe even the third warning.
They don't exist here!
If here is a sign Attention Cliff - danger of falling, then that is the case.
Since the terrain here can be rocky and sometimes very rugged, one should walk carefully and consciously. With a twisted foot the joy of the great landscape is very quickly over shadowed.
This is definitely my favorite spot all along the way.
A wide view, all-round clear visibility, not the slightest sign of civilization and a path that reaches to the horizon and then seems to disappear into infinity.
Here the feeling of freedom is very present and the soul finds peace and harmony. A place to level out.
The trail was initiated by about 100 local landowners.
They came together in the late 90s to share the right of way with the hikers. To this day, they maintain the trail on their own initiative.
The circular trail is open all year except one day.
Every year on January the 31st it is closed to the public, because the landowners would lose their right to remain the owners of the land if the public path were open all year round. All this you should have in mind if you meet one of these friendly people.
Give them respect and be thankful that they share this beautiful spot with you.
During the whole hike I was surprised again and again how few people I met here and in which loneliness I could enjoy the grandiose nature here.
Thus, it is recommended to have a mobile phone with you in any case in order to be able to establish contact to the outside world if necessary.
I also like the fact that there are a lot of possibilities to vary or shorten the tour.
Just at the tip of the peninsula it suddenly gets a little busier.
The parking lot with the bistro and the relatively short footpath to the lighthouse attract many day-trippers.
But at first only the lonely power line indicates that something is up there that is connected somehow to civilization.
You will only see the lighthouse at the very end - don't give up, it is there.
What is unusual is that you have to descend to it because it is hidden in the cliff.
It was built in 1968 as an oil terminal was to be built on an island in the bay.
At that time, the area was so remote that all the building material had to be transported by helicopter from Kilcrohan located 9 km afar.
About 250 individual flights were necessary before the lighthouse could be completed.
When everything was done and also the long staircase was built into the cliffs, the helicopter was needed once again to lift the beacon and the necessary optical system, as well as the complete technology into the tower.
This place almost looks like a painting. Here, at the westernmost point of Sheep's Head Ways you can even see whales and Delfiene, if you are lucky.
I didn't have this experience myself, but I heard about it quite often. Independently of that, the view from here is a real experience in itself, even without observing animals.
For me the hike to the lighthouse was over due to lack of time. But also from the car the way back had a lot to offer and I used small parking lots again and again to undertake short mini hikes. I found for example this tower. Lord Bandon's Tower.
At first I thought it was part of a medieval protection system, but that's not true.
This tower was built during the famine years of 1847 as part of a famine project.
During the starvation years 1845 to 1849 many buildings of this kind were erected all over Ireland to give the poor the possibility to support themselves without taking away the jobs of the other workers.
Many of these projects had no useful purpose and are purely decorative to underline the wealth of the benefactor.
Buildings of this kind are called Follies by the vernacular.
A great experience even for beginners and the inexperienced hiker.
All you need is respect for nature, good hiking boots and sometimes no fear of bad weather.
In return you get wide views in a spectacular landscape, fresh air and the feeling of being far away from everything else.
If you don't feel like it or if you don't have time for the whole walk, you can comfortably park your car in one of the parking lots.
The loop at the tip of the island at the lighthouse is very recommendable. It is like an essence of the whole trail, there is a small café at the parking lot and if you are lucky you can watch dolphins or whales, but the cost is that you are probably not alone there.
I am glad you drop by!
I am Lars, constantly plagued by wanderlust and I do have a preference
for spontaneous individual trips, outdoor adventures and road trips.
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