The Sheep’s Head Way has over 200km of walking routes located along the Sheep’s Head peninsula and eastwards from Bantry to Drimoleague and on to Gougane Barra via the Mealagh Valley and Kealkil.
The Sheep’s Head Way trails are a community undertaking and came into existence due to the efforts and co-operation of the originating members. It has grown into a much larger project over the last 20 years that now involves hundreds of people, but it’s success is still due to hard work from within the community.
With an the exception of a few stretches of public road or coastal areas, the walking paths cross over private farm lands with the owners permission, thus allowing the walking public access to this beautiful and natural environment.
The Sheep’s Head Way Ltd is managed by a voluntary committee, consisting of landowners/farmers and other representatives from the local community. The office and information centre is based in Kilcrohane village.
Maintenance and upkeep is carried out by a small team of dedicated workers and the landowners themselves.
The Sheep’s Head Peninsula
The narrowness of the peninsula means that you are never far from the Atlantic Ocean with Bantry Bay to the north and Dunmanus Bay to the south. The views are spectacular and breathtaking with many historical and ancient sites of interest to visit along the way.
The terrain is very varied and includes old boreens, tracks, open grassy and heathery hill, rock, field paths, quiet roads and some short stretches of woodland path.
The original Sheep’s Head Way route is about 93km and takes you westward along the north side of the peninsula and returns to Bantry along the south side. It is a ridge and shoreline walk that you can start and finish anywhere you wish along the route. There are numerous additional loop walks that can be completed within a few hours.
The main route is graded as strenuous with an ascent over the whole peninsula route of 2,460m, which includes a few long climbs whilst some sections are considered easy to moderate.
Whiddy Island in Bantry Bay is accessed by ferry from Bantry Pier. Ferry times should be consulted when planning your walk.
The Sheep’s Head Way Eastern Routes
In more recent years the trails have been extended eastwards from Bantry to Drimoleague where it links to the St Finbarr’s Way route. This takes you through the Mealagh Valley to join with the Beara Breifne Way at Kealkil, which then follows on to Gougane Barra. This extension offers many more walking opportunities in the region, with additional loop walks in each area.
A European Destination of Excellence
The Sheep’s Head peninsula has gone on to be recognised as a European Destination of Excellence.
This prestigious award recognises the peninsula’s excellence in the development of sustainable tourism. And it represents a great tribute to the communities on the peninsula who put such efforts into creating a walking route that celebrates and respects our stunning natural environment.
We would like to extend our gratitude to all the people who have contributed to this website with their technical skills, mapping, information and photographs. There are too many of you to mention but you know who you are. Thank you!The Sheep’s Head Way committee