NOTE: Since we wrote this post Amanda and Peter have brought out a second edition, including all the loop walks.
This week we attended a very special event – the launch of a new book, Walking the Sheep’s Head Way, written by Amanda Clarke and designed by Peter Clarke. Readers of this blog will be familiar with Amanda and Peter by now, as we have shared many adventures, hikes and explorations with them.
Starting and ending in Bantry, the book takes us on the original Sheep’s Head Way, beginning along the north side, out to the lighthouse, and back along the south side. It is divided into 11 sections, each one a separate walk, although they can be combined. Each walk is mapped, and because the Way is so clearly marked, you can’t go wrong. No, really!
Amanda has immersed herself in the history, geography, flora, birdlife, archaeology, folklore and landscape of the Sheep’s Head. (Indeed, it is difficult to live here and NOT be fascinated by it all and carried away by the sheer magnificence of the scenery.) Each walk is accompanied by her observations – what to look out for, the meaning of a particular feature, the history of the area, stories of the old days.
As she has done for Robert and me, she leads the reader through the walk as if she’s chatting along beside you like an old friend, filling you in on what’s around you or encouraging you to pause and just listen.
Each walk has its own character – whether it’s a holy well, a famine graveyard, an abandoned settlement, a prehistoric stone circle, old mine workings or signal towers – Amanda provides the essential commentary to enhance your understanding.
The walks encompass high ridges with sweeping views, cliffhangers with yawning drops to the sea below, soft boggy trails, seaside ambles, and stretches of boreen fringed with wild flowers.
The Sheep’s Head Way has been recognised in Ireland as an area of outstanding natural beauty, and in Europe as a Destination of Excellence (one of the EDENs). And yet, you can walk for miles and never meet another soul, especially in the off season.
If you’re contemplating a holiday in Ireland, or if you’re already here and thinking about dropping down to see us in the Wilds of West Cork, pick up a copy of this book (buy it on Amazon or at one of our great local book shops) pack a pair of stout boots, check out Living the Sheep’s Head Way, and be prepared to be blown away.
Let us know when to put the kettle on.