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

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. 

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. 

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

We got stuck behind a herd 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. 

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.

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d9924.746069290928!2d-9.838633946216591!3d51.54647878750179!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x484581400a731061%3A0x1542827e1b13be84!2sBernie%27s+Cupan+Tae+Sheep%27s+Head!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1479562533547

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. 

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

Leave a Comment