Baltimore to Kinsale

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Baltimore to Kinsale driving route

This final Wild Atlantic Way route travels from Baltimore to Kinsale, or Kinsale to Baltimore, depending on your direction of travel.

The Wild Atlantic Way map below passes through Clonakilty, where you can visit the Michael Collins house, which is certainly well worth a visit.

This journey along the West Coast of Ireland also takes you through Timoleague, the site of an ancient Franciscan Abbey dating back to the 13th century.

There is one Wild Atlantic Way Signature point along the route at the Old Head of Kinsale. This has a memorial to the RMS Lusitania that was sunk off this coastline. There is now a wonderful golf course at the Old Head itself which however restricts access to the Old Head Lighthouse.

The Wild Atlantic Way route map has some great scenery and the destination of Kinsale is a great place to finish your journey and have a Guinness and fish and chips overlooking the harbour. The start sign for the Wild Atlantic Way is just outside the town of Kinsale. You can find its location marked on the route below.

Map of Wild Atlantic Way in Cork

Approx. 131 kms distance, 2 hrs 56 minutes driving time

Baltimore Harbour

The harbour town of Baltimore is a bustling tourist town which gets quite busy during the summer months.

baltimore harbour
Baltimore Harbour

The town has several Festivals and events each year which accordingly pull in tourists. Deep sea angling festivals and Regattas are all part of life in Baltimore.

Baltimore also has a large harbour. Baltimore Harbour is one of the ferry ports to get to a number of the nearby islands including Heir, Sherkin and Cape Clear Islands.

Baltimore Harbour

The harbour is also an embarkation point for divers as there are a few shipwrecks off this coast including a WWII German submarine, the U260, at 40-45m depth. There is a large car park next to the harbour. 

Baltimore Harbour

Baltimore town
Baltimore town, seen from the Baltimore Beacon

If you fancy a walk, why not stroll up to the Baltimore Beacon, a cone-shaped Beacon opposite Sherkin Island?

Baltimore Beacon

A short pleasant walk of 2km from Baltimore will bring you to the Baltimore Beacon. There are great views to be seen over to Sherkin Island and the Sherkin Island Lighthouse.

Baltimore Beacon
The Baltimore Beacon looking out to Sherkin Island

This white beacon was constructed in 1848 to guide ships into Baltimore Harbour. There are great views from the beacon out to sea and into Baltimore Harbour. It is a nice walk up from the town. There is a car parking space for two cars and it is a short climb from there to the beacon.

Baltimore Beacon photos

Flowers along the walk from the town

Cape Clear Island

Cape Clear, or Oileán Chléire, is a Gaeltacht island 13km off the coast. It is Ireland’s most southerly inhabited Island and can be reached by ferry.

Saint Ciarán, is the island’s patron saint, and the islanders celebrate his feast day on 5th March every year.

The island’s location makes it attractive for marine life, and therefore you may be lucky to see whales, dolphins or basking sharks off the coast.

The island has some of its old heritage still visible with remains of standing stones churches and castles still visible. 

Cape Clear has a gin distillery on the island and there are cottages to rent for a quiet retreat from the world. There is a bus available for bus tours on the island.

There is great walking on the island with plenty of flora and fauna to see.

Fastnet Rock Lighthouse

William Douglass built this amazing building from Cornish granite. It was finished in 1904, having taken 5 years to build. 

fastnet lighthouse
The Fastnet Lighthouse

This lighthouse is famous for the Fastnet Disaster in 1979 when 19 people lost their lives during a storm. The Fastnet race is a biannual event that sails from Cowes to Fastnet and back to Plymouth via the Scilly Isles. 

fastnet lighthouse

In 1979, of the 303 starters, only 86 finished the race. 194 yachts retired and 24 were abandoned in Force 10/11 winds. I still remember seeing parts of some yachts washing up on the beach in Cornwall after the race that year.

If you visit Mizen Head on the next route along the coast, there is a photo montage about the building of the lighthouse. On a clear day, the lighthouse can be seen from Mizen Head. There is also a mock-up showing how this amazing lighthouse was built with interlocking granite blocks back in the years leading up to 1904. 

Fastnet lighthouse
Fastnet lighthouse seen from Mizen Head

The lighthouse has been unmanned since 1989.

It is possible to visit the rock by boat from Cape Clear Island when the weather permits.

Heir Island

Heir Island (also known as Hare Island or Inis Uí Drisceoil) is located in Roaringwater Bay. There are a few other islands nearby with Sherkin Island, Cape Clear, the Calf Islands, the East and West Skeams.

There are a few places to stay and eat on the island. It is one of the Carbery’s Hundred Isles. Like many West Coast islands, you can see plenty of rare flora and fauna on the island. It is a great getaway if you are looking for some peace and quiet.

There is a sailing school on the island which you can also explore on a bicycle.


Inishbeg map

Inish Beg is actually an island and about a third of the island is the Inish Beg Estate. 

The Estate is a good location for self-catering holidays and has some beautiful woodlands, parkland, farmland, and gardens. There are some luxury self-catering cottages, some of which on the waterfront, with access to an indoor heated swimming pool and steam room.


The gardens at Inish Beg Estate are open to the public all year round and there is a small entry fee to get in. You can explore the trails and gardens.

The Island also provides other activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides, cookery courses, sea kayaking, yachting, scuba diving, whale and bird watching.

Sherkin Island

sherkin island
Sherkin Island seen from the Baltimore Beacon

This island (called Inis Arcain in Irish) is located across from the fishing village of Baltimore. This island is one of Carbery’s Hundred Isles. The island is 10 minutes from Baltimore by ferry.

The ancestral castle (Dún na Long) of the O’Driscoll clan overlooks the entrance to Baltimore harbour. The island was attacked in 1537 as reprisals for the O’Driscolls stealing 72 tuns of what must have been very tasty wine from The Santa Maria de Soci, a Portuguese ship that had been moored in Baltimore harbour.

There are also the ruins of a 15th century Franciscan Friary, known as ‘the Abbey’ (Mainistir Inis Arcáin) on the island close to the castle. 

sherkin abbey
Franciscan Friary on Sherkin

Sherkin has an automated lighthouse on the island, dating back to 1835, which is located opposite the Baltimore Beacon.

sherkin Island Lighthouse
The Lighthouse on Sherkin Island as seen from Baltimore Beacon

There are a few places to stay on the island where you can have a relaxed holiday break.

Sherkin has a few sandy beaches which are great swimming areas.

Lough Hyne

Lough Hyne
Lough Hyne

This saltwater lake is a place of outstanding beauty, hidden away in the hills. This marine lake connects to the Atlantic via a narrow tidal channel, known as the Rapids. The ocean flows into Lough Hyne twice a day, and creates a unique habitat of warm oxygenated seawater.

This lake contains a huge variety of marine plants and animals including 72 species of fish and sea sponges. When I visited it was very busy with little space to park, as the lake is used extensively for swimming and kayaking. 

Especially noticeable is the amount of plankton in the lake that creates spectacular bioluminescence at night – making nighttime kayaking a favourite pastime here.
Lough Hyne is an important marine habitat and was made Ireland’s first Marine Nature Conservation Reserve.

Tragumna Beach

Tragumna Beach photos
Tragumna Beach

The WAW route passes this beautiful sandy beach, which however has only limited parking. There is a small island in the middle of the inlet.

A beautiful place to relax on a calm day. Nearby to the East is a hidden natural rock pool that is used by locals for swimming.

I have not marked the Tragumna rock pool location as access is not easy and cars stopping on the road have caused dangerous stoppages.

Toe Head Bay

Toe Head Bay

This Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point gives views over Toehead Bay to Toe Head. Toe Head is the location of the original WWII EIRE 28 sign.

On a clear day, the panoramic views out to sea and along the rocky headland are beautiful.

Leap Community Garden

Leap Community Garden
Leap Community Garden

The Leap Estuary is a protected stretch of water between Toe Head and Galley Head.

leap community gardens

There is a community garden there with flowering plants and picnic tables which makes it a perfect stop for a picnic.

leap community gardens

You can try and spot migratory/breeding birds here like the oyster catcher, grey heron or little egret. These and many others are some that you may spot from this location.

birds of leap estuary

You can park on the opposite side of the road. The entrance to the old Myross Wood retreat house is also near this location. The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart were the previous owners of this property located on wonderful grounds, which is now operating as a B&B.

Myross Wood retreat
Myross Wood retreat

Galley Head View

Galley Head View
Galley Head View

This Discovery point, between Little Island Bay Beach and  Castlefreke-Warren Bay Beach has views across the open sea to the Galley Head Lighthouse at Galley Head.

There is a wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point sign at this location.

Galley Head View

In the 19th century, this Lighthouse emitted a very powerful beam of light that reached 30km, due to the type of coal that was burned.

In 1969 the lighthouse was converted to electricity.

Galley Head Lighthouse

Galley Head Lighthouse

The Galley Head lighthouse was built in 1875  and is surrounded by the remains of walls that used to be part of the Dún Deidi Fort. The lighthouse was converted to electricity in 1969. The lighthouse has wonderful sea views on both sides.

You can rent out some of the original accommodation from the Irish Landmark who hire this to the general public.

Inchydoney Beach

Inchydoney Beach

The approach road to Inchydoney Beach is along a sandy estuary that creates a large sandy expanse at low tide. The beach itself has dunes at the back and is popular in the summer months. There is a public car park and toilet facilities close to the beach, but it was full when I visited and I struggled to park, even on the motorcycle.

The beach is good for surfing and you can have surf lessons there.

There are lifeguards present at the beach during the summer, but beware it can get very busy during the high season.

Michael Collins House

michael collins house

This museum in Clonakilty is worth visiting if you have time and are interested in Irish Independence. It tells the story of Michael Collins, the ‘Big Fella’ and his involvement in the fight for Irish Independence.

michael collins house museum

I went with my daughter when she was about 9 and we had a very interesting visit. Collins’ own custom-made bicycle is in the museum along with other interesting artefacts. 

There is a statue of Michael Collins in the square nearby.

Michael Collins statue

Timoleague Abbey

Timoleague Abbey
Timoleague Abbey

This Franciscan Friary was founded around 1300 on the site of a 6th-century monastery and is situated on the banks of the River Arigideena.

The village is named after Saint Molaga (Thigh Molaga, meaning House of Molaga) who founded the original monastery. There is free entrance to the Abbey and there are flyers at the entrance describing the history. 

Timoleague Abbey
View from Timoleague Abbey

They are the largest medieval ruins in West Cork. The Abbey was destroyed by Cromwell’s forces in the mid-seventeenth century.

timoleague abbey

Timoleague is also home to the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, where I once attended the wedding of some very good friends of mine, many years ago (which preceded the worst hangover of my life 😊!). 

Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin
Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin

Before you set off further make sure you travel along the R600 to enjoy some of the wonderful views across the sandy bed of the River Angideena.

Kilbrittain Whale

A short detour from the WAW brings you to this whale skeleton from a fin whale that was stranded on the beach in Burren Kilbrittain in 2009. The skeleton is at the entrance to the village park. It could be fun for the kids to see.

Kilbrittain Whale
Kilbrittain Whale

Old Head of Kinsale

This is a Signature Discovery point on the Wild Atlantic Way. The Old Head of Kinsale is now home to a beautiful 18-hole golf course.  

Old Head of Kinsale
Old Head of Kinsale

Robert Reading built the lighthouse on the Old Head in the 17th century. Due to the presence of the golf course however, there is no access to the lighthouse, except on specially organised open days.

At the point of the Discovery Point sign, there is also a new memorial garden to commemorate the RMS Lusitania.

memorial garden Lusitania
Lusitania Memorial Garden
Old Head of Kinsale
Lusitania Memorial

A German U-boat sunk the Lusitania off this coast in 1915.  There is also a small museum about the Lusitania.

Old Head of Kinsale
Museum Entrance

This is at the point of the Napoleonic Signal tower that still stands here. From the top of the tower you have some wonderful panoramic views. The tower houses the museum, which was closed when I visited out of hours.

Old Head of Kinsale Signal Tower
Signal Tower at OldHead of Kinsale

I have been fishing off this coast out of Kinsale and if you get the chance you should try it. I have certainly never experienced anything like it. We were pulling in conga eels with every cast from the boat, with fantastic views of the Old Head.

Old Head Golf Course

This relatively new but stunningly beautiful golf course was opened in 1997. The holes all look out over the ocean from the top of the Old Head of Kinsale.

But If you ever get the chance to play here you should grab it, as this must be one of the best locations in the world to play golf. You will need to open your wallet though at over 400 Euros a round! And no climbing down the cliffs to get your ball!

Golf course Old Head Kinsale
Entrance to the Golf course

Unfortunately, there is no access to the lighthouse over the golf course, unless they have an open day.



The pretty harbour town of Kinsale (Cionn tSáile) is effectively the start (or end) of the Wild Atlantic Way.

It is quite a touristy town and is consequently busy in the summer months. Visit some of the quaint shops, pubs and restaurants on the waterfront that houses a marina. Afterwards, grab a tasty fish and chips at Dino’s and eat on the waterfront.


Just outside Kinsale, you will find the start sign welcoming you to the Wild Atlantic Way. It is marked on the route map.

start sign wild atlantic way
Start sign for the Wild Atlantic Way

If this is your final leg of the Wild Atlantic Way, I hope you enjoyed using my routes and found them useful.

If you have time left over after your wild Atlantic Way adventure, why not go and visit the famous town of Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’) and explore St. Colman’s Cathedral? Cobh to Kinsale is less than an hour’s drive.

st. colman's cathedral cobh
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

If you did use my routes, please let me know how your trip went and if you have any comments or improvements I can make. You can contact me directly HERE:

Next Route – Going North

Glengarriff to Baltimore

Next Route – Going South


I have spent many (fun) hours creating this website to help people travelling the Wild Atlantic Way. If you found it useful and it helped you plan your trip, please consider donating towards my petrol/gas bill! Many thanks!

Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Gav

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