The Beara Peninsula
The backbone of Beara is made up of the craggy heights of the Slieve Miskish and Caha Mountains, topped by the impressive peak of Hungry Hill. Around the coast are the small towns and villages that give Beara its distinctive character with their brightly painted houses and their highly individual shops, bars, cafés and restaurants.
You will also discover ring forts, standing stones and wedge tombs in this unique landscape together with the remains of the 19th Century copper mines.
As you move westward, the Beara landscape becomes more ruggedly beautiful, shaped by glacial and volcanic activity many thousands of years ago.
The name comes from "An Gleann Garbh" - the rugged glen - which is derived from the rugged beauty of the mountains and wooded valleys surrounding the village.
Magnificent views of the Caha Mountains and the imposing might of the Sugarloaf can be seen from the numerous viewpoints along the roads which hug the coastline or wind along the steep sided valleys.
As well as enjoying the garden walks of Garinish Island with its unparalleled views of the bay and the mountains, the visitor can stroll in the Glengarriff Forest with its rivers and glades of mature oak, or take up the challenge of the more demanding Beara Way walks for the serious hiker.
Located in the shelter of Glengarriff Harbour in Bantry Bay and warmed by the waters of the Gulf Stream, this island and its unique gardens enjoy a climate that is almost sub-tropical, making it possible for beautiful ornamental plants from many parts of the world to flourish.
This gardening gem, set in the clear, clean waters of the bay is known to horticulturists all over the world and was featured in BBC Television’s ‘The Flying Gardener’ series with Chris Beardshaw.
The scattered village is below the impressive height of Hungry Hill, made famous by Daphne Du Maurier in her book of the same name. Here you will also find the longest waterfall in Ireland and the British Isles as well as the West Cork Sailing Centre.
12 miles west of Castletownbere on the Ring of Beara Route, overlooking the sweep of Ballydonegan Bay with its strand of fine sand formed from the crushed ore washed down to the sea from the Victorian copper mines.
The sand sparkles brilliantly in the sun due to the high concentration of tiny quartz crystals released from the crushed rock.
Allihies also has its own Copper Mine Museum and Café and holds regular exhibitions of work by local artists.
Engine house of the copper mine at Allihies
A beautifully maintained village looking out over Kenmare Bay. It has been a popular location for filming advertisements, a television mini-series and the film, Falling for a Dancer which was based on Deirdre Purcell’s book.
Bright, cheerful little houses overlook Kenmare Bay on the Ring of Beara route. Nearby there is a wonderful stone circle over 2000 years old. Among other theories it is believed that these stone alignments could have been used as ancient calendars.
Or if you like islands:
Dursey Sound and Island
Dursey Sound is the site from where the last sunset of the Millennium was televised to homes in Ireland, Great Britain and Europe. Here is the western tip of the Beara Peninsula and Dursey Island which is linked to the mainland by a cable car, the only such island link in Europe. The island is a recognised Bird Sanctuary, and home to both well-known and rare species.
Is only a mile away from Castletownbere itself and served by ferries at each of its ends. The island is seven miles long and three miles wide, and has many of the Beara Way Walking Loop routes.
The island has the ruins of a number of fortifications from the Napoleonic Wars and later, including two Martello towers, one of which can be visited, and the late Victorian fortification which Britain built to protect the naval base at Berehaven. Please note that this can only be viewed from outside and is not open to the public.
For the serious walker:
The Beara Way
Consists of 9 stages and is 125 miles in total. All sections are well marked and you can join the walk at any stage in the peninsula.The official printed guide is available for sale locally.There are numerous historical sites throughout the length of The Beara Way.
For wildlife lovers, foxes, badgers, and hares are common, and deer can be seen in the Lauragh area. There is a rich variety of wild birds, particularly at the western end of Beara, where gannets, choughs, and razorbills are common sights along the cliffs.
On the water:
West Cork Sailing and Powerboating Centre
Located at Adrigole on the crystal clear waters of Bantry Bay. Learn to sail, charter a rib, sail a yacht and have fun on the water - all with highly qualified instructors. The centre’s equipment and tuition is of an exceptionally high standard.