Embark on a journey through Ireland’s rugged beauty with the Sheep’s Head Way, a trail that beckons with its unparalleled scenery. This 88km (55mi) long-distance walking path meanders along the stunning Sheep’s Head Peninsula, offering a captivating blend of coastal cliffs, lush green hills, and picturesque villages.
Sheep’s Head Peninsula, or the ancient name of Muintir Bháire meaning “people of Bháire,” is in southwest county Cork. Elevation varies from sea level to 345m, terrain varies widely, and there are a couple of hard climbs but it is primarily a ridge and shoreline route.
Bordered by Bantry Bay to the north and Dunmanus Bay to the south, a narrow spine of mountains culminates in Seefin Hill. The route is always in view of the mighty Atlantic with pockets of temperate climate to harbour flora and fauna. Expect to see the remains of an old copper mine, a blow hole, stone circles, standing stones, high cliffs, a Napoleonic signal tower and old churches.
What set’s the Sheep’s Head Way apart is its quiet, unspoiled environment, providing a unique and less-crowded alternative to the more popular tourist destinations of Dingle and Kerry.
The 8-day tour consists of 6 full days walking. From Bantry the route proceeds through the grounds of 17th century Bantry House, continuing in an anti-clockwise direction along the northern coastline of the peninsula to Sheep’s Head at the western tip. The route then follows along the southern shores with the final day from Durrus to Bantry town through old forest paths.
This tour is rated MODERATE for four days and RELAXED for two days.
See how we determine levels of difficulty for each of our hiking tours by visiting our FAQ page.
Travel by scheduled bus service to Bantry from Cork city. Lying sheltered behind Whiddy Island, Bantry is the market town of southwest Cork and an ancient port facility. The deep waters have hosted a succession of fleets, French, Spanish and British. In order to make the best of the walking route, your first night is spent 5km from Bantry at the start of the Sheep’s Head Way.
Overnight at Dromcloc farm guesthouse. Dinner is in your guesthouse.
The route starts on small farm access lanes and climbs one of the mountain roads that cross the peninsula. At the top, it is out onto the hills with a glorious ridge walk through sheep grazing country before descending to Glanlough.
Distance 14km (9mi). Ascents 285m (935ft). Approximate walking time 4 hours.
Overnight in Glanlough farm guesthouse. Dinner is in your guesthouse.
The ridge walk continues over Gouladane, from where you can descend to Gortnakilly or continue on the ridge to Seefin, the highest point of the peninsula at 345m. The walk finishes at Kilcrohane village from where your hosts will transfer you back to Glanlough.
Distance 13km (8mi). Ascents 385m (1,263ft). Approximate walking time 5 hours.
Overnight in Glanlough farm guesthouse. Dinner is in your guesthouse..
Your hosts will return you to Kilcrohane. The Way follows the exhilarating coastline of the western end of the peninsula through ruined villages, the Gortavallig Copper Mines to Bernie’s Café at the edge of the world! Your host for tonight will collect you at this point and transfer you to Reenmore.
Distance 14km (9mi). Ascents 110m (361ft). Approximate walking time 4 hours.
Overnight in Reenmore farm guesthouse.
Your hosts will transfer you back to Tooreen. Walk to Kilcrohane along the southern coastline of the peninsula. After the initial climb to the remains of a 17th century signal tower, today’s walk is on lower ground through farms and townlands to return to Kilcrohane village. Your host will collect you and transfer you to Reenmore.
Distance 16km (10mi). Ascents 200m (656ft). Approximate walking time 5 hours.
Overnight in Reenmore farm guesthouse.
The route follows old paths and droving roads through hillside farms to Durrus, the largest village on the peninsula. There are many pre-Christian remains, standing stones, wells, burial grounds, indicating the ancient importance of the area.
Distance 16km (10mi). Ascents 280m (919ft). Approximate walking time 5 hours.
Overnight in Durrus village.
Leaving the seascapes behind, the route follows the Four Mile Water valley before climbing through forest to Barr na Gaoithe, the Top of the Wind. A short climb completes the hill walking before descending on minor roads to Bantry town, through the grounds of majestic 17th century Bantry House.
Distance 17km (11mi). Ascents 190m (623ft). Approximate walking time 5 hours.
Overnight in Bantry.
Depart by scheduled bus services from Bantry to Cork for onward connections.
September 2019 – Elke & 2 friends, Hamburg, Germany
It was great! We really enjoyed our holidays. The landscape was wonderful, the weather fine and our hosts just marvelous – every single one of them. We are looking forward to do some walking holidays again in the future. Thanks for planning the trip and your kind support!
June 2019 – Diane, Gauteng, South Africa
I watched Dympna’s son bring the cows in from the field for milking and watched him feed the newborn calves – one from that morning and one born the day before. One of my highlights!! I did lots of walking whenever I got the chance and loved the light late into the night. I felt safe. There were cows and sheep everywhere, and I love sheep!! Probably spoke to them the most. I met wonderful and warm people wherever I went, especially the people of the B&Bs – they were always helpful and the rooms were all really lovely, warm and comfortable. So how was it? Better than I anticipated. Epic, in fact!
Thanks for all your help