A dramatic walk along the plunging cliff tops of a headland at the far west of Ireland. This takes in the full majesty of Ceann Sibeal, including the neighbouring high points of the Three Sisters, in a 11.5 km traverse.
Start is at the carpark on the sandy shores of Smerwick Harbour just outside Ballyferriter ( B Bán (Q355 058)
). This is a beautiful stretch of deserted beach, giving a peaceful frame of mind before the more challenging heights and drops to come. The Dingle Way follows the beach and on to a small road at its northern end, leave the waymarks as they turn left and continue to the small hamlet of Smerwick. A tractor was raking over brown earth as seagulls waited patiently to forage as i walked by. Smerwick passes in a flash of white and yellow houses, boats, lobster pots and watchful dogs. The tarmac eventually ends and a rough track brings the grazed hillside below the first of the Three Sisters.
Easy going brings the 153m height of Binn Diarmada (A (Q354 088)
) in 2.5 miles and well below the hour. This height drops straight back to the ocean from the rocky top - views across the mouth of the harbour to Ballydavid Head and Brandon steal attention as does Mount Eagle spawning dark cloud.
A drop and rise bring the next sister An Binn Mheanach in 20 mins. A good viewpoint on the first and definitely prettier sister - although the Atlantic swell has produced cracks in her makeup. The third sister, Binn Hanrai, is reached in another 10 mins. I only briefly stood on her heather covered top as a strong offshore wind blew and raised white tops out to sea. A barely discerable track heads downhill and inland to skirt a large sweeping bay. This was scarred by big landslips with big blocks of stone lying at its foot. Rabbits scurried into thier sizeable warrens as i approached. Flowers of pink, white, purple and yellow brightened my passage.
Height builds to a number of proninences reached through heather and rock, with views down to the water below. The lookout station on Ceann Sibeal is reached in 6 miles and just over 2 hours. The rain was belting down and the wind blowing hard as a weather front announced its presence so i was glad of some shelter in the fairly intact 2 storey structure (no roof though!). The top is just above and offers a great viewpoint over the fringes of the Atlantic - from the Blasket Islands to the dramatic headlands, the golden glow of sand and low and high hills that seem to cut off routes beyond.
Drop straight off the top to a track and road at Ferriters Cove - where i was picked up having abandoned plans to walk back to the carpark where i began due to the weather. A lovely walk around the headland, very quiet and peaceful, fantastic views, not too taxing and a bit of drama with the cliffs. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/1035/comment/4010/