For the first time in almost six months, I joined my friends in the Hillwalking Club yesterday for a hike in Sheep’s Head, near Bantry Bay in West Cork.
Sheep’s Head is a narrow peninsula in West Cork, with Bantry Bay on one side, and Dunmanus Bay on the other, and there are over 150km of walks making up the Sheep’s Head Way, and the scenery on all sides is amazing.
Yesterday’s walk was the Cahergal Loop, a distance of about 13 km, and as the ascent was only about 350m, I thought it would be a good place to start, after hibernating for the past few months, and seeing that the weather was being kind! A lot of people had the same idea, and there were about 50 of us on the walk, it was good to meet up beforehand for a chat over coffee in the scenic village of Durrus , and then we drove a few miles to Kilcrohane to start the walk. Boots on, walking sticks set, a few extra layers of clothing to start with, and we were off!
We turned off the road, and the first 100 metres of the climb was quite steep, and that is always quite a shock when the uphill starts before we even have time to get used to the walk, and to stretch the creaking legs!
Half way up the first hill and it’s time to start taking off that extra layer (and it’s an excuse to stop and get my breath back!). There was a lot of climbing up rocks, then climbing down more rocks, and that is where the walking poles really come into their own, especially as the ground is still quite boggy from the winter rains.
About two hours into the walk, we stopped for lunch and a welcome sit down, unfortunately there are no cafes or ‘refugios’ in the hills in Ireland like there are in places like Italy, so everyone brings sandwiches or snacks in their rucksacks, and sometimes a welcome flask of tea or coffee.
We stopped at an old copper mine where there are still the ruins of the labourers cottages, and a few disused mine shafts. Interestingly, this settlement by the mine was called Crimea, probably after some locals that may have fought in the Crimea War.
Soon after leaving Crimea, we came to a narrow trail over some cliffs, with a rope handrail that we had to hold on to, and if anyone was scared of heights, it was best not to look down!
The walk was tough, took about four hours, but we had sunshine and blue skies all the way, and the views were out of this world. Despite a few aches and pains, we all felt great at the end of the day when we could take off the muddy boots, get cleaned up and visit one of the local pubs for a welcome drink and the ‘roast of the day’.
Will I do another walk next weekend – most definitely!
Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk