Our journey starts in Dublin on June 6th 2015. Breathing a cities air for the last time before we´re heading to the southwest of the country to the „Sheeps Head“ peninsula. We are taking the Bus via Cork to Bantry. It is raining but we were expecting this in Ireland. Bantry is the starting point of the Sheeps Head Way, a 94 km long hike which we want to do in four days.
Yellow men on black ground
Here we already realize the differences between the big capital city in the northeast. While enjoying fish and chips in a local bar we get in touch with the barkeeper quickly. We tell her about our plans and she seems to know every place in this area because she grew up here. People from this area who don´t move tot he bigger cities love this place. She is happy to give us some last advices and promises that the weather will we great in the next days. Even more motivated we are heading to our first B&B on the outskirts of Bantry. The next day we start with a traditional Irish breakfast. You could think that you don´t have to eat for the rest oft he day afterwards. Across tiny paths it now goes west quite wavy always at the north shore of the peninsula. When we look back we see Bantry´s harbour fading slowly behind the hills and with them the civilisation for this day. The paths become smaller, but to stay on the right way is no problem, the signs are not exaggerated but always on the right spot. Little black men on yellow ground, painted on stones or trees guide us the way.
A mixture of Lord oft he rings and Braveheart
For 24 km we hike at brilliant sunshine. The sea right of us, gorgeous hill land in front of us. We feel a bit like being in a mixture of the Shire, Bilbo Baggins home and the Highlands in the movie Braveheart. An altitude difference of 700 m is conquered today, never too steep an behind every hill a new spectacular view waits for us. Except from sheep we meet noone that day which we did not expect travelling in June. We take a little loop way arcoss Seefin Mountain which we don´t want to miss, usually mountaineering in the alps. Moreover this „Mountain“ towers just 345 m… Always downhill we head to our next B&B in Kilcrohane. We like it here because there is not much more than a bar, a little supermarked and the place we stay in. We enjoy a sandwich and a cold Guiness before the sun goes down. The day was exhausting and tomorrow waits with the longest leg oft he trip. The good thing is we can leave the heavy backpacks in our B&B because we are planning to follow the north coast to the west end of the peninsula and to go back on the south coast to Kilcrohane. So we are starting early the next day with a light bag.
The landscape never gets monotonous
First it goes directy close to the coast. Sheep graze on steep cliffs. They don´t seem tob e used to hikers because shyly the make place for us. The paths along the cliffs are well prepared which makes us feel safe. Soon we see the west end of the peninsula in the distance where a tiny lighthouse waits for us. Along decayed stone houses from past centuries we keep on walking. Hill by hill. But the landscape never gets monotonous, we never become bored in this overwhelming scenery. Despite the lenght of this days leg it is a pleasant way and we are very happy about the light backpack. Around noon we finally reach the west end of the Sheeps Head. We enjoy the view over the wild Atlantic ocean for a while and prepare ourselfs for the way back. This time it goes down along south coast. Not far away we see the „Minzen Head“, another peninsula in the area and we already make plans for our next trip here. In the evening we arrive at Kilcrohane after 32 km and 800 m altidude difference. We are looking forward tot he next days, knowing that we just finished the hardest leg of the trip.
We could go on forever
The third day mainly leads across fields and along stonewalls and ruins for 20 km to Durrus. The sheep are replaced by cows and along beautiful coves we noticable come closer back to civilasattion. The weather means it well with us and we can even take an extremely refreshing bath in the Atlantic ocean. Durrus waits for us with four pubs where we enjoy fish and chips again, probably the most traditional bar dish. It tastes just awesome after three days of long hikes. The last leg our journey is the way from Durrus back to Bantry. The last 18 km wait for us to enjoy. For the first time we walk through tiny forests, trees are short on the Sheeps Head Way. We reach the first little farms and the branches of Bantry. The creek with ist ships come into view. With more than 90 km in our legs we are looking forward to our arrival. But we have mixed feelings. Actually we could go on here forever…
Now I understand why people find their way here again and again. I will also be back. The country and the people made me a big fan of this part of the world in no time.
Find the whole GPS-Track on: http://gps.de/sheeps-head/