A change of plan, in and out of the clouds, midges for lunch, losing a familiar trail
My plan to hike along the Peakeen Ridge and Cahergal Loop is abandoned when I arrive at Finn McCool’s Seat at the top of the Goat’s Path above Kilcrohane: it’s thick fog, not the day for heights.
I take the ‘Horseshoe Road’ which is more of a track than a road, and descend into the mist which is thick but too bright to be ‘fog’ perhaps. The filtered light brightens nearby colours and softens shadows and I think how it creates a type of liminality with a veil through which things can only be partially glimpsed.
I take the short detour down to the Glanalin Mass Rock, along a path running with water and covered in dripping long grasses. The heathers on the rock are splendid at this time of year but the mist closes in a little more, making the place feel more remote than it really is.
Back on the Horseshoe Road I am grateful for a route that is very easy to follow as the track meanders down the hill before meeting the road which I go along to the Cahergal parking area with the mists coming and going. For a brief moment I see the sea below me in Bantry Bay before the curtain is drawn again.
From Cahergal I continue on the main route through an area full of interest: a cluster of old buildings clinging to a steep hillside in the ‘Crimea’, the Copper Mines with their reservoir, old shafts and a precipitous path leading to the row of miners cottages; a shaft excavated to access sand for fertiliser and finally ‘The Cove’, a small rocky bay that is very beautiful but has a sad history.
After a quick midge-plagued lunch by the reconstructed dwelling ‘Tadge Carthy’s’ (see link for ‘Crimea’ below), the mist closes in even more, so now it is definitely fog, and I have to use my GPS to check the route even though I know it well. The narrow path above the rocks where the quay for the mines once stood feels even more precipitous than usual and the row of miners’ cottages is eerily cold.
From above the Cove, I phone home for a lift. As I start to come down the south side of the ridge visibility improves and it is almost sunshine when I arrive at the sea. When I turn to look back I see that the bank of fog is hanging only over the north side of the ridge and to the south everything is relatively clear so I am relieved to be out in the open air again.
Although the mist and fog hid most of the views today, this was a memorable walk with well-known locations taking on unusual appearances.
About the route
My route followed the main Sheep’s Head Way (Westwards). The Horseshoe Road starts just down the road from the Pieta statue and parking area at the top of the Goat’s Path which is a viewing area on the Wild Atlantic Way. Note that the waymarkers behind the statue are for the Peakeen ridge walk.
8.5km (5 miles) in about 3hours