The Sheep’s Head peninsula can boast several “Special Protection Areas” due to the unspoilt natural environment. In keeping with this, the roads and infrastructure are not extensively or over developed which adds to the charm and attraction for visitors. When planning your journey it is important to recognise that some roads are not suitable for buses or camper vans.
The rural nature of the area provides quiet country roads and an unhurried pace. Drivers are encouraged to take their time to enjoy the area with regular stops to admire the views, take a walk or sample some local food. There are times when you’ll not see another car for miles, but it’s good practice to expect to meet large agricultural machinery, often travelling slowly. Also there will be walkers and cyclists and on occasion livestock will be using the roads too. It’s important also to be aware that local drivers may want to travel faster than visitors, so pulling over to let them pass is advised to avoid feeling under pressure to hasten along on unfamiliar roads.
There are two main road routes extending along the peninsula. The route suitable for most vehicles travels along the coast of Dunmanus Bay on the south side, through Durrus and Ahakista to Kilcrohane.
On the “North Side” is the Goat’s Path road which travels alongside Bantry Bay. The road eventually leaves the coast and takes you up to the ridge at Seefin and then with spectacular views it descends into the village of Kilcrohane. This forms part of the Sheep’s Head Drive and the Wild Atlantic Way route but is not suitable for large vehicles.
Beyond Kilcrohane the road is less suitable for coaches and very large camper vans. For all other vehicles it is possible to travel along the Wild Atlantic Way route to the end of the road at Tooreen where there is a car park, toilets and seasonal cafe. From here the walking route will take you to the most westerly tip of the peninsula and the lighthouse.
The full cycle route starts at Ballylickey and ends in Roaringwater Bay, near Ballydehob. It is 120km long. The signposted route travels down the northern side of Sheep’s Head Peninsula, then returns to Durrus. Turn right in Durrus and ride on to Ballydehob.
There are 3 main choices of loop around the Sheep’s Head peninsula with many other variations possible if you consult the maps.
The longest route takes you out to the end of the road at Tooreen. The full loop is about 71km.
The main loop that follows the Wild Atlantic Way travels via Kilcrohane is about 49 km. The Wild Atlantic Way extends further west beyond Kilcrohane.
The shorter route crosses the peninsula between Glanlough on the North side and Brahalish on the South side. This loop is about 33 km
The map above shows the cycle and motor vehicle routes on the peninsula. Very large camper vans and coaches should choose the south side route via Durrus and Ahakista. The Wild Atlantic Way loop route is shown in blue. From Kilcrohane it extends westwards, shown in black. The extended route shown in black is not suitable for large vehicles. The shorter loop shown in red is only suitable for light vehicles