SELF GUIDED TOUR
The perfect way for the independent explorer to see our hidden gems & discover the many paths less travelled.
7 nights stay, 6 days hiking
Participants need to have a good level of fitness and previous hiking experience is recommended.
“My country has a lot to learn about your hospitality industry! Top quality; never had someone call me to see if all was OK! That was super! How can you not feel humble to the overwhelming beauty of the Irish nature?”
– Annette, Denmark, 2013
Your Beara Way Hike tour follows a waymarked trail which loops around the coast, with occasional forays into the mountainous interior of the peninsula.
Beara’s breathtaking panoramas are dominated by mountains and sea. The Caha Mountains and Sliabh Miskish Mountains form the spine of the peninsula, which is washed by Kenmare Bay to the north and Bantry Bay to the south. The folding of the rock strata throughout millennia has left the swirling wave-like patterns across the mountains, which are so characteristic of the Beara landscape. Few roads cross this massive natural barrier, and those which do are spectacular feats of engineering: the ‘Tunnels Road’ via Turner’s Rock and the Healy Pass road with its series of hairpin bends, as dramatic as any alpine pass. All of Beara’s towns and villages are dotted along the coastal road, which loops around the peninsula. The largest is Castletownbere (or Castletown Bearhaven), a major fishing port located on one of the deepest natural harbours in Ireland. Picturesque villages such as Eyeries and Allihies are renowned for their rows of brightly contrasting houses featuring every shade of the rainbow, where every house competes with its neighbours to be the most colourful.
Starting on the south coast of Beara, the village of Glengarriff at the head of Bantry Bay is your base for the first two nights. For the next two nights your accommodation is in the fishing port of Castletownbere, from where you can also explore Bere Island.
You then cross over to the north coast of the peninsula, spending one night in the picturesque village of Allihies. Before continuing around the coast, you will visit Dursey Sound at the tip of the peninsula. The following day you explore the desolate beauty of Dursey Island, returning to the mainland and walking back to Allihies for your overnight stay. You then head east along Kenmare Bay, spending one night each in the secluded villages of Eyeries and Lauragh. Your final night’s accommodation is in the heritage town of Kenmare.
If you would like a longer hiking holiday you should check out our 11-Day Self-Guided Beara Way Hike
Click the days below to reveal more information.
Arrive in Glengarriff – a delightful little town, well known for Garnish Island with its sub-tropical Italian gardens. The influence of the warm Gulf Stream make it a great place to visit all year round. Proceed to your first accommodation just outside Glengarriff town, where your host will give you your full detailed information pack. They will also be able to recommend some of the excellent local restaurants.
Access for this holiday is made by a bus connection from Cork to Glengarriff which runs all year round.
Start walking from Glengarriff along the Beara Way, under the Sugarloaf and Glenlough Mountains to finish in the village of Adrigole. This walk gives glorious views over Bantry Bay and across to Sheeps Head and your route joins some tiny old roads as you near Adrigole. Here you have the opportunity to detour a little to see excellent examples of standing stones and megalithic tombs. Telephone from Adrigole for collection and return to Glengarriff for second night.
Walk Details: Distance: 18kms. Duration: 5 hours. Max. Height: 300m. Some road walking, muddy and rocky grass tracks, can be wet underfoot. Boots essential.
You will be driven back to Adrigole to start your walk, continuing under the dominating mass of Hungry Hill and Maulin Mountain, before reaching the fishing port of Castletownbere. This is a long and very varied walk giving beautiful views over to Bere Island – where you walk tomorrow. Overnight in Castletownbere, a small but vibrant town nestled at the heart of the beautiful Beara Peninsula.
Walk Details: Distance: 25kms. Duration: 6 hour. Max. Height: 400m. Rocky walking with no clear path a lot of the way. Can be very wet underfoot. Features some road walking. Boots essential.
Take the ferry from Castletownbere over to Bere Island – this fascinating place, steeped in history, lies at the entrance to the magnificent Bantry Bay and guards the deep water harbour of Berehaven, in West Cork. The island is just 2kms offshore from the town of Castletownbere, the largest white fishing port in Ireland. Loop around the west end of the island, and on to the little village of Rerrin. From here you can continue to the eastern tip of the island, exploring the old army fortifications, before returning by road to the harbour for the return ferry. (As this piece of water is naturally sheltered by the island – the ferry service runs every day). Overnight in Castletownbere.
Walk Details: Distance: 23kms. Duration: 6 hours. Max. Height: 300m. Features grass and muddy tracks, rocky in places. So me road walking – boots essential.
Walk from Castletownbere into the Slieve Mishish Mountains, crossing from the south coast of the peninsula to the north. Continuing up to Teernahillane you leave the Beara Way for a short distance as you cut across the centre of the peninsula, re-joining the route, and continuing around the coast to finish in the picturesque village of Eyeries, a small, enchanting village which offers the visitor so much. From the cry of seagulls sweeping over Coulagh Bay, to the craggy hills and mountains that overlook this picturesque village. Overnight in Eyeries.
Walk Details: Distance: 16kms. Duration: 4.5 hours. Max. Height: 250m. Features muddy and grassy tracks, some road walking, can be wet underfoot – boots essential.
From Eyeries you will be driven to the village of Ardgroom, to start your walk from here. You will have the opportunity to visit some of the famous stone circles in this area along today’s route. Leaving Ardgroom, you follow a wonderful old mountain path which leads to the little village of Lauragh at the base of the famous Healy Pass. Overnight near Lauragh.
Walk Details: Distance: 22kms. Duration: 5.5 hours. Max. Height: 200m. Grass tracks – rocky in places. Can be wet underfoot – boots essential. Some road walking at start and finish.
From Lauragh you will be dropped at Drombohilly to start your final day’s walking. From Drombohilly you start walking over the first of two mountain saddles you will be crossing today, with views behind to the Caha Mountains and north towards the Ring of Kerry. Descending to the Cloonee Lakes, you continue along the shores of Lough Inchiquin before ascending again over the second saddle. Descending into the lovely Dromoughty valley, you walk along narrow little back roads, finally joining the main road for the last about 2kms to walk into the heritage town of Kenmare. Overnight in Kenmare, a haven of tranquillity, gourmet food, superb accommodation and breathtaking scenery.
Walk Details: Distance: 26kms. Duration: 6 hours. Max. Height: 400m. Open mountain and moorland, grass and mud tracks – boots essential. Some road walking at end of day – please take care.
On your day of departure you can travel from Kenmare to Glengarriff, either by enjoying an extra walk back to or make your way there by taxi. (There is a summer bus service offered to Glengarriff – but this is very irregular so ask locally for details). From Glengarriff you can return by bus to Cork city and by bus from there to the airport. Alternatively, you can make your way from Kenmare to Killarney by bus, and from Killarney a bus or train to Cork, Limerick, Shannon or Dublin.