Four levels of walks are planned (trial, easy, short and moderate) with each walk taking different routes. New Walkers are always welcome to join us for a trial hill walk before deciding to join the club.
Walkers can sign up in person in the Counihan’s Pub, Pembroke Street, Cork from 9.00pm on the Wednesday before the Sunday walk or online at: http://www.corkbackpackers.ie/
The meeting point for walks is on the South Mall opposite the Imperial Hotel at 8.45am. We car pool from there and leave at 9.00am sharp.
The Sheep’s Head Way hill walk is found on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula which is a finger of land that stretches out into the Atlantic between the Beara peninsula (to the north) and the Mizen Peninsula (to the south). The Sheep’s Head Peninsula is a peaceful, unspoilt peninsula which has some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Ireland. There are many fine looped walks of various levels of difficulty on the peninsula which are suitable as day hikes.
The Sheep’s Head Way is indebted to the late Tom Whitty, a founder member of the Sheep’s Head Way, born in Philadelphia, settled on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in the 1980’s with his wife Suzanne and family. Inspired by Jim Leonard, a lifelong walker and mountaineer who initially recognised the potential of the Sheep’s Head Way as a hill walk destination, Tom joined a small local walking group and saw at first hand the potential of the area and the idea of the Sheep’s Head Way was ‘born’.
A local committee was formed, under the guidance of Tom Whitty and James O’Mahony, a local farmer. Due to trojan work of this committee, the walk was researched and developed and put in place within 18 months. In July 1996, Mary Robinson (then President) officially opened the walk gaining an “All Ireland Award” for development and quality techniques.
Unfortunately, Tom’s accidental death in July 1998 has robbed the Sheep’s Head community of this inspiring community leader. Tom’s academic skills and his humanity, his interest in future development of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula and his commitment made him unique and will always be remembered.
Tom will forever be remembered by the memorial ‘Atha Thomais’ at Gorteanish, Ahakista.
Sheep’s Head is the narrowest of the fingers of land that extend from the south west mainland of Ireland out into the Atlantic, between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay. The Sheep’s Head Way is 175km length in total. It is made up of the 88km circular walking route beginning in the town of Bantry in County Cork and running out along the north coast of the peninsula to the scenic lighthouse at the very tip before returning along the south side, passing through the pretty villages of Kilcrohane, Ahakista and Durrus, with the extensions to Drimoealgue and Kealkill to the north providing the additional 87km.
The narrowness of the peninsula means that you are never far from the glorious Atlantic Ocean when you walk, even when on the outward stretch when you climb to the route’s highest point, 300 metres above sea level, on the heathery Seefin ridge. The terrain is very varied, and includes old boreens, open grassy and heathery moorland, field paths, quiet country roads and some short stretches of woodland paths.
The aggregate ascent over the whole route is 2460m, which includes a few long ascents. In good weather those who like the uplands can extend the ridge section of the route, or use a number of alternative loops. The remains of an old copper mine, a blow hole, stone circles, standing stones, high cliffs, a Napoleonic signal tower and old churches are some of the varied attractions to be discovered along the way, while careful observance and a lot of patience may be rewarded by the sighting of dolphins and whales off the westernmost tip of the headland.