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 at € 565 per person sharing This price includes:
- Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at a farmhouse B&B on the Sheeps' Head peninsula with packed lunches and evening meals included on the Saturday and Sunday.
- 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 andevening meal 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.
- Three nights (Tues, Wed, Thurs) in our Pod Pairc accomodation. (Standard) with breakfast each morning and a packed lunch. Evening meal provided each evening.... Tuesday at the Top of the Rock, Wednesday in Ballylickey/Bantry, andf Friday in Gougane Barra.
- Transport to or from walks each day.
- One day of guided walking can be provided at extra expense on this section
- Maps/notes for the self-guided walks.
Friday evening 25th April - Friday morning 2nd May 2014
Friday evening 23rd May - Friday morning 30th May 2014
Friday evening 20th June- Friday morning 27th June 2014
Friday evening 22nd August- Friday morning 29th August 2014
Friday evening 19th Sept- Friday morning 26th Sept 2014
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 good farmhouse dinner.
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 farmhouse dinner.
Day Three: Monday [Map]
After breakfast, and provided with a packed lunch, 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 hotel, 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]
Today begins the “pilgrim walk” proper. A packed lunch will be provided. 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 a restaurant in Ballylickey or Bantry 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. A packed lunch will be provided. 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 in the Gougane Barra Hotel. A minibus will then convey you back to the our Pod Pairc in Drimoleague.
On Friday Morning following a good breakfast at the Top of the Rock you will make your way to Cork Airport etc. 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 12-14 people will be accommodated. If bookings are less than seven 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.