A magical hike on an ancient pilgrim’s way in Ireland

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

If you’re a regular to the blog you know I like to pretend I’m an awesome hiker. In reality, I just really like walking and nature and am working on becoming a better “hiker”. A weekend away in West Cork, Ireland proved to be the perfect place to shake out my hiking bones. In two days we climbed a tiny mountain, trekked alongside the most breath-taking scenery I have ever laid my eyes on, and had the experience of a lifetime. If you are in Ireland and you love walking/hiking this is the perfect place to spend a few days to get away from it all and rediscover the beautiful world we live in. 

St. Finbarr’s Way

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

St. Finbarr’s Way is a 22-mile ancient pilgrim’s trail from Drimoleague to Gougane Barra. It’s very well marked and is a mix of both road and trail. We set out on our first day to hike up the tiny mountain we saw in the distance. With great directions from David, the host at our glamping site, we set out along the path. Within two hours of hiking we were greeted with a magnificent rainbow, a slightly angry pack of pups that caused us to go off our trek for a bit, and a lonely pile of castle ruins surrounded by rolling green hills. This hike was turning out to be one of my favorites. 

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

I never thought I would get to hike in the same steps as ancient pilgrims in Ireland and the experience gave me a feeling of holiness that I have never felt before. I’m not religious, but there’s something about this place that grounded me and gave me an overwhelming sense of purpose. For the full four hours I walked around with a giddy little smile and a sense of happiness I haven’t felt in a really long time. 
Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

As we got closer to the top of the “mountain” we were climbing the views kept getting better and better.

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

We got stuck behind a heard of cows for a bit and paused a few times out of breath from the climb before we turned around a bend and BAM. The view was unbelievable. 

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

After watching the sun set over the mountains we headed back down and called David to swoop us up and take us back to the Top of the Rock.

The Sheep’s Head

The next morning we chatted with David about where to spend our last day in West Cork and he suggested hiking the most western point of the Sheep’s Head. With the promise of a lighthouse and full bellies we headed out to Bernie’s Cupan Tae which served as both the beginning and end of our hike.

After driving on one of the smallest roads I have ever seen (hint: you should honk before you turn a bend to warn any cars coming the other direction)  we stepped out of the car to some of the strongest winds I have ever felt. We wrapped up as best we could and decided since we were here we had to at least attempt this walk. About 10 minutes in I was already in awe of the landscape surrounding us and there was no way we were turning back now despite how cold our fingers might be. 

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

I quickly realized I was very naive the day before believing that was my favorite hike of all time. While St. Finbarr’s Way was breathtaking, the Sheep’s head was mind-blowing. I have never seen such rugged beauty before. Every step we took was like walking in the pages of George Martin’s books. 

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

Tip: Wear waterproof hiking boots on this hike. I wore my flimsy Clark walking boots and my feet were soaked by the time we got back to the car. 

About an hour and a half in we realized we still hadn’t seen the lighthouse. I have no idea how we missed it, but lo and behold we did. I blame it on the adrenaline running through my bones. In my head I was pretending I was on the hunt for horcruxes and was ready to whip out my invisibility cloak at any point. Despite not finding any horcruxes or lighthouses this hike easily made it’s way to the top of my favorite hikes list. 

Once back at the car we had a cup of tea and a bowl of soup at Bernie’s Cuppan Tae and made our way back to Dublin relaxed and rejuvenated. 

What’s your favorite place to go for a hike? 

Happy Trekking!

– Boots not Roots

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Hiking in West Cork, Ireland is the perfect way to get back to nature and experience all that Ireland has to offer.

Suitcases and Sandcastles

  • claudi

    Seems like you had a lot of fun! I just came back home from Ireland where I visited Dublin, Galway, the Cliffs of Moher and some places in between. I love the country. The nature is so calm, green and has a great atmosphere! Thanks for sharing your hiking experiences!! #flyawayfriday

    • Danielle from Boots not Roots

      It really is such a calm country. I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this!

  • Lynne Sarao

    Oh my god, I like to pretend I’m an awesome hiker too! This hike looks absolutely amazing and I am dying to visit Ireland. I’m definitely adding it to my list of must do hikes! Stunning photos! #flyawayfriday

    • Danielle from Boots not Roots

      Thanks Lynne!! If you are ever in the country I highly suggest checking out this area. It often doesn’t make it to the tourist’s list of places because there are so many other great areas in the country so it still has that “unspoiled” feel to it!

  • We were in Ireland at the end of October sailing into Cork but then heading off to catch up with family in Kinslale and further east so we didn’t do as much hiking as I would have liked. It will definitely be on our agenda the next time we go, especially with such wonderful scenery everywhere. #farawayfiles

    • Danielle from Boots not Roots

      Oh I LOVE Kinsale! I need to do a post on it eventually, but it’s such a hidden treasure I’ve avoided writing one up. 🙂

      • Have you been to Charles Fort at Kinsale? Or found these fabulously colourful houses?

  • I’m not much of a hiker but when I see these gorgeous views I think I should turn into one! I do like decent walks + some small hikes. I think it would be quite awesome to have a bigger one to work up to. My favourite place for hiking is around Banks Peninsula near Christchurch in New Zealand. I grew up around there and the view from the top of the hills is just incredible! There must be a wonderful sense of achievement that comes with hiking. #FarawayFiles

    • Danielle from Boots not Roots

      It’s such a wonderful hobby Juliette! Hiking gives me a sense of accomplishment, but more importantly is my escape from every day life. Just listening to my breath as I climb and my heart pumping in my ears gives me so much life. And then I look up and see the world opening before my eyes. It’s a feeling that is indescribable. That’s why I hike. 🙂

  • Untold Morsels

    Wow. Those views are amazing and worth getting soaked for! I visited that part of Ireland in 2010 with my now husband and we had a wonderful time. Thanks for the memories! #FarawayFiles

    • Danielle from Boots not Roots

      Yay! I don’t know many people who have been to this part of the country so it’s great to hear that others have experienced it! It’s truly a beautiful section of the world. 🙂

  • Clare Thomson

    How brilliant! Your photos are wonderful, whether they’re of Ireland or Portugal, and you always manage to make me feel as if I should be following in your footsteps. Both these hikes sound fabulous. I’m sure the kids and I would have pretended we were hunting for horcruxes in those landscapes too. Thanks so much for sharing this with us on #FarawayFiles

  • Beautiful. I felt like I was walking with you. I feel the same way on a walk in the forest or along the coast. Soaking up the surroundings and letting yourself feel awe – it is soul-soothing for me. This looks like a wonderful place to do that. Cheers and thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles – can’t wait to see where you take us this week! Erin

  • Different Shores

    Looks ace, I must get down to the country and check this out. Next time the weather forecast is good I’ll do it! Thanks for the tip, I don’t really know much about West Cork.

  • Jill Barth

    Great images of one of the world’s gorgeous places!

  • Wow the views are KILLER! Ireland has always been on my list and this confirms it 🙂 Love having you on #FlyAwayFriday!

  • Ugh this is so beautiful!! Isn’t Ireland the most gorgeous, greenest country ever!!?? It’s amazing!! Can’t wait to see what you share with us tomorrow on FlyAwayFriday!!!