This year’s weather forecast prior to the Christian Aid Sheep’s Head Hike 2016, on Saturday, 3rd September last, was not encouraging to both organisers and those who planned to take part. Heavy rain, winds, even thunder was forecasted and throughout the night and into the morning of the hike most of the south west experienced heavy rain .
Driving through the rain to Kilcrohane, the organisers didn’t expect anyone to come to the hike other than perhaps a very small, dedicated, group of walkers (perhaps 30 or 40). On arrival at 9:30am it started to dry in Kilcrohane and on the Sheep’s Head Way. The first hikers stared to arrive at 10am and by 11am the number of participant hikers had significantly increased perhaps due to an encouraging post on Facebook .
By 11:30, prior to the beginning of the hike , close to 120 people had registered , down from 220 previous year but well above the early expectations. Ger Burke of the Sheep’s Head Way Committee and Canon Paul Willoughby, Rector of Durrus and Bantry, welcomed all who were about to participate in the annual and biggest hiking, fundraising event on the peninsula and West Cork .
The leadership team of Sandra Dukelow (Kilmocomogue Union) Margaret Skuce, David Hayward (Ballydehob Union), Caroline Coleman (Bandon Union) Sean Coughlan (Sheep’s Head Way Committee) , Ulla Zepperitz ( Gourmet Grill)and Andrew Coleman (Christian Aid) were brilliant in the planning prior to and on the day of the hike. Quick work was necessary to change the route of the walk because of ground conditions and overflowing streams. Despite being downcast and foggy the weather improved during the hike with wonderful sun appearing as the main hikers reached the point of the Light House. Some people even got sun burned on their faces!
Many of the Cork, Cloyne and Ross clergy travelled with their parishioners and participated fully in the gruelling hike on the day. Huge appreciation was expressed for all the back up provided by the team of buses from Local link, the Red cross, catering provided by Ulla of the Gourmet Grill and the wonderful parishioners of Kilmocomogue Union.
Many who could not come on the day sent messages of encouragement and raised funds to support the event. It is anticipated that the event will raise about €4000.
Finally, it is now fully established that the first Saturday in September in West Cork is the Christian Aid Sheep’s Head Hike. Next year will be the 9th year of the event. So put it in your calendars, it will happen, no matter what the weather, on 2nd September 2017. Looking forward to seeing you all there!