Last updated on November 25, 2023
They jut into the sea like the fingers of a hand – the peninsulas in the southwest of Ireland.
If you haven’t enjoyed enough beauty after Dingle, Iveragh and Beara, you can drive a little further: to Sheeps Head and Mizen Head…
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Shortly after Bantry, a small road turns off to the right. It leads via Shanvalla and Glanlough to Kilcrohane. There you turn right again onto the even smaller road. Via Whitehouse Café and Gallery and Tullow, the road leads to Sheeps Head.
The barren landscape is less mountainous than on Beara, but also very beautiful in its own way. The tiny road is an experience – and easy to manage on a motorbike.
There is a car park at Toreen Turning Point. You can leave the motorbike there and walk the last 2 kilometres to Lambs Head Lighthouse. Or you can take another look at the sea and simply turn around.
Via Kicrohane, Ahakista and Durrus you return to the N71.
Mizen Head and the Signal Station
Mizen Head is the most south-westerly point of the Wild Atlantic Way. The cliffs there are dramatically fantastic – I know I’ve said that several times, but it really is true!
At its far end, a group of small buildings huddle against the storm-swept cliff. Mizen Head Signal Station is a lighthouse, radio station, signal station and weather station all in one.
The small station was built in 1909 and was the last point of contact in Europe for ships sailing from Western Europe to America – or indeed the first contact in Europe, depending on the direction.
It was originally manually operated but now houses a small museum and café.
Mizen Head Signal Station is on a small island off the mainland, little more than a rock. A small path leads from the car park to an arched bridge that crosses over to the station.
Baltimore and Sherkin Island
At Baltimore you have reached the turning point of the Wild Atlantic Way. From here on, the route no longer goes south, but east, northeast to be exact.
The elongated bay of Baltimore offered the fishing boats protection from the wild Atlantic. The small fishing village in a wildly romantic location was later discovered by tourism and is now a popular holiday resort.
From the harbour of Baltimore, you should definitely make the short detour to the Baltimore Beacon. From the small car park, it is only a few metres’ walk to the sea marker that marks the entrance to Baltimore Bay.
From here you have a beautiful panoramic view of the bay and Sherkin Island.
If you like, you can also take a small ferry from Baltimore Harbour to Sherkin Island and visit the small island.
You can also see the old Franciscan monastery on the island from the Baltimore Beacon.
In the next episode of this series of articles, we will travel along the south coast of Ireland to Kinsale, the southernmost starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way:
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Photo credits Cover photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tours, www.ireland-insider.com, www.the-view-accommodation.ie)