The Sheep’s Head peninsula is a place of peace and tranquility – and a great base for exploring some of the delights of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
Choose from a whole host wonderful things to do on the Sheep’s Head and around West Cork, from a visit to nearby Bantry House to a dip in Dunmanus Bay and a walk on the world-renowned Sheep’s Head Way.
Walk the Sheep’s Head Way
No crowds, no queues, just amazing scenery and a dramatic coastline.
The Sheep’s Head peninsula is a European Destination of Excellence and an award winner at the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards. The Sheep’s Head way walking route is what it is most famous for! And it offers amazing views across Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay.
Choose from 20 West Cork loop walks across a 200km network of trails: there are coastal loop walks, island trails and shorter hikes suited to all levels of fitness.
Gallan Mor is also an ideal base for exploring West Cork’s three Peninsulas (Sheep’s Head, Beara, and the Mizen, with its amazing bridge and visitor centre). For more information, see Livingthesheepsheadway.com.
If running’s your thing, don’t miss your weekly parkrun fix. The parkrun in Glengariff nature reserve is a real treat. The woods offer beautiful and varied scenery – try it and take up a new hobby!
Feast on West Cork’s Artisan Food!
Our unspoilt and ever-changing West Cork landscape inspires our cooks and producers to bring out the very best of what our food has to offer. They have risen to the challenge to incorporate flavours derived from the land and sea using innovative ingredients such as seaweed, edible flowers, and herbs.
Many locals keep free-range organic chickens whose eggs are supplied to many local restaurants and accommodation providers. Our locally grown fruit and vegetable produce is second to none, as there is no intensive farming in the area: just small holdings and passionate gardeners.
And, of course, you can delight in our delicious ‘Fruits of the Sea’, such as mussels, scallops, and prawns from Dunmanus Bay. So, eating out is amazing – for the best dining experience in West Cork, try Blairscove House Restaurant. Or why dine al fresco at Arundel’s by the Pier in nearby Ahakista?
For lunch with a difference try Manning’s Emporium in Ballylickey, Heron Gallery and Gardens in Ahakista, or The Stuffed Olive in Bantry – all great choices. For lunch and/or dinner, The Fish Kitchen and O’Connors Seafood Restaurant are also worth a visit!
Meet Artisan Producers
Durrus Cheese and Glenilen Farm are both located along the Sheep’s Head Way and you are very welcome to visit and see how the dairy products are crafted in situ at the Durrus Dairy. Local markets, like Bantry’s every Friday, are fun to visit. Or, why not treat yourself to a baking course at the fabulous Firehouse Bakery on Heir Island with celebrity chef Patrick Ryan who has a regular TV slot? Once you’re hooked, you’ll never look back and the enjoyment of bread will become a whole new experience!
When Patrick Ryan of the Firehouse bakery stayed at Gallan Mor, he was so blown away by our Signature Dish, The Dutch Baby, that he recreated it on national TV and kindly credited us with inspiration!
Cycle the scenery
You’re never far from our dramatic seas when you cycle on the Sheep’s Head. The Wild Atlantic Way hugs the coastline all the way round the Sheep’s Head peninsula, so you can fill your lungs with our clean fresh air, taste the fresh sea breeze and let the scenery lift your heart. Bike hire is available locally.
Try Whale Watching the Wild Atlantic Way
Baltimore Harbour is a wonderful place to set out from sightings of basking sharks amongst many of the large sea mammals living in the oceans around West Cork. Nic Slocum shares his vast experience with you and you will gain a whole new appreciation for these amazing sea creatures. Contact: www.whalewatchwestcork.com
The Ultimate House & Garden Experiences in West Cork
If you, like us, love houses with beautiful gardens then you’ll find them here in abundance. The West Cork Garden Trail includes gorgeous Sheep’s Head destinations including Kilravock Garden, Carraig Abhainn Gardens, and Heron Gallery & Gardens just down the road from us here in Ahakista, as well as the gardens at Bantry House. Find out more at https://www.westcorkgardentrail.com
Climb the steps at Bantry House
Closer to home, Bantry House stands proudly overlooking Bantry Bay. Climb the 100 steps and take in one of West Cork’s most famous settings with spectacular views. The house is also open to the public and has lovely gardens and a café. Take a guided tour of the house – daily at 11.00am and 2.00pm.
Visit the West Cork Islands
Island hopping happens here in West Cork too you know! West Cork is home to a group of unique and characterful islands around its coastline. Heir Island (also home to the Firehouse Bakery), Whiddy Island, Cape Clear (famed for its Storytelling Festival), Sherkin, Dursey, Long, Garinish, and Bere islands – each will give you a different perspective on island life and also a nod back to times past. See http://westcorkislands.com
It’s worth visiting Garinish Island for the unbelievably scenic drive from the Sheep’s Head to Glengarriff alone. At the pier, the Harbour Queen Ferry awaits you to take you on the short journey to the island famous for its Italian Gardens and temperate climate fanned by the Gulf Stream. The ferrymen will take you right up and close to the huge seals basking on the rocks (posing for photos!) before landing you on the island where the house has recently been restored.
Visit Gougane Barra
Last but not least, the ancient and peaceful oratory at Gougane Barra has links to back to the 6th Century when St. Finbarr chose it as his place of retreat. This is a beautiful place to visit with its towering trees, dramatic hills, 10 km of hill walks, nature points and vista trails.
Golf along the Coast
Imagine playing in a movie set, except it’s real! How often have you watched a film where people are playing golf in a spectacular setting? Golfing won’t get much better than playing a few rounds on the Bantry or Glengarriff courses with their stunning land and seascapes to make you feel invincible no matter what the weather or your handicap. See www.bantrygolf.com and www.glengariffgolfclub.com
Enjoy our wonderful West Cork Festivals – Good for body and soul
You haven’t finished your list of things to do and see in West Cork without including one of our wonderful festivals!
• West Cork Chamber Music Festival
• West Cork Literary Festival
• Masters of Tradition
• Bantry Yoga Festival
• Sheep’s Head Walks & Runs
• West Cork Stone Symposium