This post, the fifth in a series of 32 covering the entire island, offers a few ideas for things to do on a weekend in Country Cork. The following is just one sample itinerary based on the information in our book Exploring Ireland: a guide to the Irish outdoors, where you will find plenty more details, ideas and inspiration.
WALK SHEEP’S HEAD LIGHTHOUSE LOOPS
The road at Sheep’s Head ends before the westernmost point of the peninsula but there are two walks that will take you out to the lighthouse at the end (51.5427, -9.8483). The 7m tall lighthouse was built in 1968 to guide the massive oil tankers on their way to Whiddy Island. Due to its remote location all the building materials had to airlifted by helicopter. The 4.2km Lighthouse Loop (blue arrows) follows the southern track out to the lighthouse buildings and returns via the north coast’s high cliffs (or by the way you came if you’re not wearing decent boots), while the 12.4km Poet’s Way Loop (red arrows) is a longer and tougher walk, though it makes for a superb day.
EXPLORE SHERKIN ISLAND
One of West Cork’s gems, this small, low and sparsely‑inhabited island is only fifteen minutes by ferry from Baltimore but feels further away from the rest of the world. Its beaches are among the best in the area, with clean clear water and white sands. The
15th century abbey presides over the small harbour, as does the Jolly Roger pub. Accommodation is plentiful, from the hotel to B&Bs and the cultural and learning centre at Sherkin North Shore. Ferries run year round, with extra sailings in summer.
VISIT DONERAILE PARK
This 400 hectare parkland is home to a 17th century manor and extensive gardens through which the Awbeg river flows, old specimen trees stand in groves and deer roam. Guided tours of the house and grounds are available and there is a tearoom..
EAT SAINT FRANCIS PROVISIONS, KINSALE
It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to food in Kinsale but this place certainly deserves a mention for its inventive menus offering good quality ingredients.
STAY CAPE CLEAR YURT
This small campsite is idyllically situated above Cape Clear’s south harbour and has all the usual facilities, as well as a few beautiful yurts and bell tents. The yurts are equipped with wood-burning stoves and gas rings for cooking, as well as plenty of soft furnishings to complete the cosy atmosphere. It’s worth a trip to the island for the accommodation alone.