The Irish Times, searching for the ‘Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland’, has featured this account of a wild Atlantic Day on Dunmanus Bay with our own Carbery Sailing.
It was an October Saturday, and, as we set out from Ahakista pier on the lovely yacht Merlin, there was a chill in the early morning air. But, as we charted our course through Dunmanus Bay, the weather turned. For the rest of the day, we had the blessing of fierce autumn sunshine which shone gloriously over West Cork’s stunning bays.
Local blacksmith JJ Bowen learns the ropes on Carbery’s Sailings luxury yacht Merlin
Three Castle Head. As we passed the lighthouse at the Sheep’s Head’s tip, and moved into the deeper, choppier waters of Bantry Bay, the views opened out over the Beara peninsula which flanks the Sheep’s Head on the other side.
We had dolphins beside us to keep us company as we sailed, and we got such pleasure from the sight of them, and the clear hot day. The views of course were stunning, and the weather was fine, but it was the company that made this adventure wild in a West Cork kind of way.
Among the crew there was an American author exploring Ireland by herself and writing as she went; a local blacksmith who, it turned out, had crafted vast spiral staircases in New York; a naval captain from Hull; a Dutch “local” sailor; and the yacht owner Chris Forker who first met his wife when he was a teenager learning to sail on Bantry Bay’s Bere Island. He fell in love with the place as well as with his future wife. Now he shares with visitors the stories of the coves and islands that dot the clear waters of Dunmanus and Bantry bays.
The Sheep’s Head peninsula is recognised as a European Destination of Excellence for its sustainable tourism. It’s home to peregrine falcons and choughs, and the waters are teeming with mackerel, bass and silver darlings. There’s fishing, hiking, sailing and kayaking to be had here. I suppose you could say that about other places too…
It’s a commonplace that there’s nowhere like West Cork, but – you know – there really isn’t. The rugged landscape changes with every twist in the coastline, turn in the road, and shift in the light.
This place attracts people who have a bit of wildness in themselves, and who find a sense of belonging in this fierce landscape on the very edge of Western Europe.
So, sail its waters as we did that October day, or walk the four-day Sheep’s Head Way and hike from elegant Bantry House, past the peninsula’s stone circles and marriage stone, to the Sheep’s Head lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Everywhere there are traces of the generations who have been here before you. This is an elemental landscape that’s remained unspoilt for centuries. And still, it’s a place where you feel more exhilaration in being alive than you’ve any right to… That’s why it’s the best place to go wild in Ireland.
Find out more about full- and half-day sailing trips and sailing courses with Carbery Sailing.
Explore the Sheep’s Head peninsula when you travel the Wild Atlantic Way.