Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sheeps Head

 51°32.591'N 009°50.923'W. This is the relatively modern (1968) Sheeps Head lighthouse lying at the very tip of the peninsular of the same name. It was built in 1968 to help guide oil tankers to Whiddy Island in Bantry Bay to the north.
The Lighthouse Directory is somewhat misleading about how to get there. It says "No road access, although the top of the slope above the lighthouse can be reached by a substantial hike (32 km (20 mi) roundtrip from Kilcohane) on the Sheep's Head Way, a trail that circles the peninsula." Well you can walk the 20 miles if you like but the road goes to within 2 kilometers of the lighthouse. At the end of the narrow and windy (both senses of the word) road is a coffee shop and toilets. From there you head across the rock and scrub, following the yellow markers, to the light. Probably not best attempted in runners as the path is wet and muddy in places. There's a small bit of scrambling to be done but nothing too strenuous.
 Eventually you come to the helicopter landing area and there are steps descending to the lighthouse. Curiously enough, the notoriously windy Sheeps Head became totally calm as we descended the steps, probably because we were sheltered by the cliff. A man who was coming up the steps said he'd just seen a school of dolphins in the sea but we saw nothing. I reckon he was lying.

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