From the SHEEPS HEAD lighthouse to St Finbarr’s hermitage at GOUGANE BARRA : a seven day walking experience. [Map]
We have designed this week to give you a taste for Irish life and landscape. Our walk is what you make it…if you want to make this a personal thoughtful journey, you will find space to do so. If you need to fill your lungs with fresh air and your eyes with stunning scenery, you will not be lacking in either. If you need a reflective spiritual journey, taking the path of St Finbarr to Gougane Barra you will find Christian direction and solace. If you like Irish music and folklore you will discover it along the way. You will spend time relaxing in Bantry which is a Heritage town with two excellent heritage trails. Bantry House is a beautifully restored stately mansion, and home to the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. You will savour the best of wholesome food in farmhouses and restaurants along the way, and you will have an opportunity to view the artistic endeavors of West Cork in craft shops, particularly in Bantry. In short this is a microcosm of the best of Ireland: past and present. We will do our best to make it special for you.
We have set our price as keenly as we can for 2014/2015 at €499/person sharing This price includes:
- Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights Bed and Breakfast at Seamount Farm B&B on the Sheeps' Head peninsula. Your hosts Charlie and JulieAnn will arrange transport to and from local restaurants: Arundels'on the Pier and the Sheeps Head Inn, Durrus on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Dinner is your expense (generally €20-25 for a three course Meal) Transport to and from the walks and advice from trusted local guide. (This person will do a guided walks each day for a group, but this is and extra expense)
- One night B&B and evening meal included in the price on the Monday evening at the Westlodge Hotel Bantry, where you have access to the gym and pool, and an opportunity to explore Bantry Historic town.
- Two nights (Tues, Wed) in our Pod Pairc accommodation (Standard) in Drimoleague with breakfast each morning. Your Tuesday evening meal is included in the price...you join our family for our evening meal at the Pod Pairc on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday we will convey you to Willie Pa's restaurant near Drimoleague. This meal is your expense (generally (€20-25)
- Transport to or from walks is provided on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
- On Thursday evening you arrive into Gougane Barra. During the season April-October you will dine and stay at the lovely old worlde Gougane Barra hotel. When the hotel is closed you will stay at the Pod Pairc and the price will reduce accordingly.
- One day of guided walking can be provided at extra expense on this Eastern section of the walk.
- Maps/notes for the self-guided walks are all included. You will have access to our phone lines at all times if you need help and directions, but the walks are among the best signposted walks in the country.
- All your luggage transfers along your route are included in the price.
- Packed lunches are available each day at a rate of €5-8 per person.
- IN SHORT: 7 NIGHTS B&B, 4 EVENING DINNERS, ALL TRANSPORT, GUIDE NOTES AND PHONE AVAILABILITY IF IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE...all of this for €499 per person sharing.
Friday evening 26th Sept 2014 - Friday morning 3rd Oct 2014
Friday evening 20th March - Friday morning 27th March 2015
Friday evening 24th April- Friday morning 1st May 2015
Friday evening 22nd May - Friday morning 29th May 2015
If you can get together a group of 6-12 people for any week other than what we offer above please do contact us and we will try to accommodate you.
A DEPOSIT of €200 per person is payable to Top of the Rock at time of booking. The remainder will be payable on arrival at each of the three accommodation providers during your stay : Seamount Farm, Westlodge Hotel and Gougane Barra Hotel.
THE TOUR: Arrival: Friday evening.
Having had your main meal of the day you arrive in the evening, to your first B&B farmhouse accommodation, Seamount Farm, set in a stunning location on the southern shores of Bantry Bay. Here Charlie and JulieAnne McCarthy run a lovely B&B on their small farm, providing for all a walker might need including meals, lunches and drying facilities for wet shoes. They will be your hosts for the next two days and three nights as you walk the 35km from the lighthouse on the western tip of the Sheeps Head Peninsula, right through to Bantry historic town. View their website at www.seamountfarm.com
Day One : Saturday. [Map]
After breakfast you will be driven to Toureen for the start of your walk. This is a self-guided walk stretching for about 14km to Kilcrohane. You begin by walking west to the lighthouse where your seven-day walk will officially begin! When you arrive back to the cafe in the car park, you have worked up an appetite for some of Bernie’s famous apple cake, before setting out on foot via Ballyroon to the Black Gate (where you might find some more sustenance) . A lovely path via Tra Ruaim to Dooneen Pier eventually brings you to Kilcrohane and from there you will be conveyed back to Seamount B&B where you will be ready for a meal in a local restaurant.
Day Two : Sunday. [Map]
After breakfast you will be taken to Kilcrohane to walk the Seefin Ridge eastwards to Glanlough. Passing by the remains of the bardic school and St Crohan's earliest church, you will ascend to the heights of Seefin where the wild goats may be seen. The views from this ridge were described by poet Seamus Heaney ..."land, sea and water in extremity" and the views in all directions are magnificient. In the late afternoon you will arrive at Charlie and JulieAnne's B&B having worked up a hearty appetite for a good dinner once again in a local restaurant.
Day Three: Monday [Map]
After breakfast you will bid farewell to Charlie and JulieAnne, and you will set out to walk the ridge from Glenlough to the Westlodge Hotel on the outskirts of Bantry town. The ridge rises to 223m and has spectacular views on both sides. Your luggage will be delivered to the WESTLODGE HOTEL (westlodgehotel.com), and your evening meal will be served there. You will have full access to the swimming pool and leisure facilities which will be very welcome following your three-day completion of the first half of the SheepsHead/St Finbarr's Walk! You may wish to wander into Bantry that evening or else take an early night!
Day Four: Tuesday [Map]
Today will be a little more leisurely, with plenty of time to explore the heritage trails of Banty:historic town. A guided walk is generally available on Tuesdays from the Square. You may wish to visit Bantry House and Gardens and perhaps have some lunch there. At 2pm you will be met at the hotel by David and Elizabeth Ross.... we will be your hosts for the next three days. In the early afternoon you will walk with us to Trawlebane on the Bantry to Drimoleague walkway. Here you will read of the work of the famous Captain Francis O Neill who gathered and preserved Irish traditional tunes for posterity. A bus will transfer you to Drimoleague where you will be guests at our walking centre for a three course farmhouse meal, where all the food will be sourced within a mile of our home. You will stay in one of our pods. See www.topoftherock.ie
Day Five: Wednesday [Map]
After a hearty breakfast you will begin the “pilgrim walk” proper. We can provide all the self guided information you need for this walk, but at a small extra cost David can lead this walk from our home at “The Top of the Rock” to Kealkil. This is a pilgrim walk and the commentary will be both historical and contemplative in nature. You will walk through some beautiful inland scenery, with Castledonovan to your right and lovely views of the West Cork coastline to your left. Lunch will be included. On arrival at Kealkil you will be taken to Willie Pas restaurant restaurant 'between Bantry and Drimoleague where dinner will be served. Then we will return to the Pod Pairc for the evening
Day Six: Thursday [Map]
On Thursday morning a bus will take you the short journey to Carriganass Castle in Kealkil. Here you will rejoin the St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Way. Your guide will once again give a commentary on the historical and contemplative aspects of this walk and if required he can accompany you to Gougane Barra at a reasonable cost. The descent into Gougane Barra is particularly stunning on a fine day. Carl O Brien of The Irish Times describes it as follows: “There is mountain on all sides rising hundreds of feet above a lake, forming a vast amphitheatre. Around the valley rim are gigantic boulders and purple rock. There is a magical, mystical beauty to it all. On the valley floor below, the chapel and cloister are evidence that this has been a special, peaceful place for hundreds of years. It’s a stunning vista.” On reaching your destination there will be time for silence and reflection, followed by a warm welcome and evening meal and bed and breakfast in the lovely Gougane Barra Hotel.
On Friday Morning you can make your way to Cork Airport etc. from Gougane Barra. This journey is not included in the price, but we can advise on timetables, cost etc. The Bus Eireann bus journey to Cork takes about two hours, but a local bus service can get a group to the airport in one hour and minutes at a reasonable rate.
NOTES: • Groups of 8-12 people will be accommodated. If bookings are less than five persons, the week will be cancelled at least 6 weeks before departure.
• The level of fitness among a group can vary. We do not insist that the ENTIRE route needs to be walked. Each day we will aim to walk at least two thirds of the prescribed route. A bus can be hired if we do not complete the walk. There may be a nominal extra charge for this.
Single rooms are available and incur a total extra supplement of €120 for the week.
LISTEN to Manchán Magan on a Newstalk programme where he is just back from walking the Sheep's Head way...