Hello and welcome to this weekend’s virtual walk.
Today I’m going to bring you to the most Southerly point in Ireland – the incredible Mizen head . You had better pack your walking shoes as its quite a walk , but I can promise it will be worth it.
Let’s head south, past Cork, Clonakilty, Skibbereen , Ballydehob, Schull , Goleen and beyond .. the road gets narrower and narrower until finally we reach a point where we can go no further. Here we are at the edge of Europe with the Atlantic ocean stretching out before us… this is Mizen head.
Mizen Head is one of the extreme points of our island of Ireland and nowadays it’s become a major tourist attraction, noted for its dramatic cliff scenery. I’m actually told that nearby Brow Head is technically the most southerly point, by a matter of a few yards, but its inaccessible, let’s not worry too much about that !!
One of the main transatlantic shipping routes passes close by to the south, and Mizen Head was, for many seafarers, the first (or last) sight of Europe. The tip of the peninsula is almost an island, cut off by a deep chasm, now spanned by a bridge. This gives access to an old signal station, weather station and lighthouse.
It’s great that we are early, it’s not too crowded yet , so let’s pay our admission and head out on the walk. The sign says it’s going to take about 30 minutes to reach the station, luckily it is not too windy and the path is smooth – with plenty of ups and downs .
I think you will agree that the walk holds the most spectacular views over the cliffs and ocean. Can you see how we can see the folding in the bedrock as it evolved over the millennia. Long ago access to the station was across a chasm in the rocks and a winch was used to move supplies. in 1909 a concrete bridge was built, and this in turn was replaced in 2009 . Let’s cross and enjoy the incredible views below us.
As we go along the skies are filled with seabirds , mainly gulls- and there are a few hardy costal plants in bloom in the rock crevices. I love the fresh air and breeze that is coming off the ocean that is pollution free and totally pure !
Finally we reach the Signal station, which is now a museum . It was once permanently staffed, and now it houses displays relating to the site’s strategic significance for transatlantic shipping and communications. The lighthouse itself is now automated.
About nine miles away in the distance we can see the Fastnet rock, with its own lighthouse. This is known as the teardrop of Ireland as in many cases it was the last sight of Ireland seen by emigrants as they set off to start a new life in America or Canada. Today it remains not only a working lighthouse but a poignant reminder of those terrible days.
As we head back our route brings us to The “99 steps” which formed part of the original access route . Boy , we won’t have to hit the gym after this flight of steps !! We can catch our breath at some of the viewing platforms and savour the fresh Atlantic air.
Safely back in the visitor centre let’s stop for a cold drink-I think we have earned it today – and browse the selection of gifts and books. I’m glad we came early as the carpark is now filling up and we are lucky to have had the place almost to ourselves .
For me this is great to reach the furthest point south and to get that feeling of being on the edge of the old world, and seeing the vastness of the Atlantic stretching out before us. I do hope that you enjoyed coming with me today.
You can see more photos from our walk over on my facebook page – stephenwalshconnemaramarble