A walk up Rosskerrig

We celebrated a 17th birthday Tuesday night in the top room in Arundel’s Pub.

It had rained heavily during the afternoon but the skies had cleared by the time we walked up there leaving the ground slick with wet.

It wasn’t a late night and as we parted Hugh and I arranged to meet at 8.30 the following morning at the crossroads by the bridge over Ahakista Stream for a walk to the top of Rosskerrig. In the clear evening sky we told ourselves that it would be good day for walking.

It was windy but dry when we met up and started on up the road up the hill behind Ahakista. This was the old Mass Road. There are no churches on the north side of the Sheep’s Head so those living in its few scattered houses and farms would to cross over the spine of the peninsula to attend the church in Ahakista to celebrate mass. The path crosses over through one of the low pinches of the central ridge.

Most of the walk up was easy going on a tarmac road, it was only as we got almost towards the ridge that the road fizzled out and we had to follow the signs taking us to the top.

At the top we could just about see through the cloud hanging over Bantry Bay to the mountains on the Beara. Behind us and to the south the air was clearer and we could see back down the bay towards Durrus. For a while the sun came out over the bay silvering the water.

We continued to walk along the ridge of the peninsula – Bantry Bay to the right Dunmannues Bay to the left. We paused every so often to take in the air and the view.

At the top we could see through the bracken the marks of old walls from when people had tried to scratch a living out of the rough ground. There was even the layout of what could have been an old shelter of some sort – a large headstone and at right angles to it a row of four five flat stones.

The wind started to bear down on us at the top. It was coming from the south and every time we got into the lee of the hill on the north side there was a small relief from it bearing down.

Heads down making our way I saw a toad in the path. It sat there impassively waiting for us to pass.

As we came down from Rosskerrig the cloud start to lower and we felt the first few specks of rain that was to last for the best part of the rest of the day.

On the hill it hit us hard in the face stinging our cheeks and it was only when we were through the steep creases in the valley, up and down, that it started to soften.

Two and an half hours after the walk started Hugh fed me bacon and black-pudding .


The rain hardly stopped all day. Back at the Cottage I watched the fishing boats come in to the pier. Out on the water there was a grey wall of cloud and the water was churned into a mass of white horses.

I felt guilty asking if I could buy a bag of prawns. All that hard work on the water to keep us fed with a few mouthfuls of food.


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