Measuring roughly 21km in length and just 4km across its widest point, this undulating ridge jutting out from the Atlantic from west County Cork is a beautiful place to explore. With wild scenery, picturesque loughs and fantastic coastal views, the Sheep’s Head Peninsula is one of Ireland’s treasures. Despite its unrivalled charm, this is in fact a little visited part of the country, which has managed to sidestep the hustle and bustle of modern life. The entire peninsula circuit is an 88km walking trail that takes around four days to complete. There are shorter loops that focus on a particular section of the route, and the very tip of the headland is perhaps the best place to aim for. No roads stretch this far, so the only way to unearth its charms is to travel on foot.
Please note that most of the National Looped Walks presented here are not dog friendly. Short loop: drive as far as you can on the peninsula until you reach the turning point car park, this is your start and finish point. A well signposted footpath then leads you past rocky outcrops and Lough Akeen to reach the lighthouse at the tip of the headland. The path continues along the northern side of the peninsula, crossing some rough ground underfoot. Care is needed here as sheer cliffs and steep coastal crags dominate this section of the headland. Soon after you have rounded the cliffs, the short loop diverts across the headland and returns to the turning point car park.
Long loop: the longer 16km loop walk starts and finishes around 4km west of Kilcrohane Village. This access point allows for a longer stretch along the north coast, passing dazzling inlets, coves, blow holes and sea arches along the way. Next, you’ll gently climb to the top of 239 metres high Ballyroon Mountain, passing a ruined 17th Century signal tower as you go. The summit provides spectacular views over both sides of the peninsula before you gently come down, completing the loop along 3 km of narrow country lanes to return to the starting point.