The Beara Peninsula is a magical part of Ireland and it is one of Beyond the Glass Adventure Tours favourite sections of the Wild Atlantic Way. The Peninsula is located on the southwest coast of Ireland. It lies between the Sheep’s Head Peninsula to the south and the Iveragh Peninsula to the North. Here is a little information about Peninsula and a couple of hiking and biking recommendations.
The name Beara:
The name ‘Beara’ originates from a time when Kings and Chieftains ruled Ireland. According to legend the king of Ireland Owen Mór lost and got badly injured in a battle against his great rival Conn Céad Cathach (Con of the hundred battles). Owen was nursed back to health on the western tip of Beara. When he had recovered, he readied his ship and crew to set sail on the Atlantic Ocean. He sailed south to the kingdom of Castile in Spain. Here he requested the assistance from the King of Castile to help him win back his lands from Conn Céad Cathach. While in Castile, Owen fell in love with the King’s daughter, Princess Beara. He returned to Ireland, bringing the princess with him. When he won back his lands, he named this region in her honour.
Hiking on the Beara Peninsula:
The land here is rugged. There is a line of mountains and hills stretching the length of the Peninsula. It is threaded by trails and quiet country roads and has mile after mile of Atlantic coast line. All of this combined makes it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Glengarriff Nature Reserve lies to the north of the town of Glengarriff (Rough Glen). In the reserve there are a range of looped scenic and accessible walks. On these walking trails you will be trekking through native Irish woodlands of Oak, Ash and Holly. Lichens coat the trees and ferns line the streams and rivers. There are rewarding views over the majestic landscape.
Dursey island is on the western tip of the Beara Peninsula. It the only Island in Ireland that is connected to the mainland by Cable Car. There is an excellent looped walk that runs all around the Island. The trail is signposted and it takes 4 hours to complete the hike. There are no shops or accommodation on the Island. So, bring food and take note of the times of the last Cable Car off the island.
If you are more adventurous and prefer a challenging hike there are a number of harder hikes. One of the best of these is on the fantastically named Hungry Hill. Hungry Hill is near the village of Adrigole and it is 682 meters high. It can be seen from much of the peninsula and beyond. There are a number of approaches you can take to climb the mountain but care is required as there are some cliff faces that pose a danger. Be prepared for changeable weather. Navigation and compass skills are essential.
Biking on the Beara Peninsula:
Castletownbere is the main town on the Peninsula. It is a great location for lunch, dinner and refreshments! West of the town the landscape is rugged and dramatic. The roads are narrower and therefore much quieter and ideal for biking. On leaving Castletownbere turn right on a minor road on the western end of the town. From here the road rises steadily and views of the ocean unfold. After 10 minutes cycling you will arrive at the Derreenataggart Stone Circle. The entrance is marked by a small sign post that can often be obscured by the hedge overgrowth. If you are not looking out for it you could easily pass it by. Irish stone circles date from the bronze age and this one is definitely worth visiting. From the Stone Circle there is a section of beautiful cycling with sweeping bends and adrenaline inducing quick descents. The route re-joins the R572 and continues west. Soon you will reach the Buddhist retreat centre of Dzogchen Beara. The entrance is marked by a number of prayer flags. Visitors are welcome and it is worth calling in to see the amazing setting and have a bite to eat in their café.
From here there are two options. You can return the same route to Castletownbere, enjoying the treat of it being almost entirely downhill. For a longer cycle, continue west on the R575 to the village of Allihies, followed by Eyries. The colourful villages of Allihies and Eyries are pretty places to stop along the route. From Eyries return to Castletownbere via the R571. This is a testing but very rewarding cycle.
Another great biking option is around Bear Island. Bear Island is a ten-minute ferry journey from the mainland. From Castletownbere cycle east on the R572, 4 Km to the small harbour to board Murphy’s ferry to Bear Island. The ferry lands at the village of Rerrin. Here there is a small shop and café. From Rerrin cycle east to explore the abandoned British Military Batteries. From the Military Batteries you can cycle the length of the island to its western tip. Although the island is hilly, most of the cycling is not too strenuous and any steep sections are easily walked. There are fantastic views out to the Atlantic, across to Sheep’s head and back to the mainland. The island roads are quiet, winding and in the spring and summer they are lined with wild flowers. All of this brings a sense of peace and tranquillity. From the western side of the island you can take a ferry with the Bear Island ferry company which returns to the town of Castletownbere.
Beyond the Glass Adventure Tours favourite way to explore any region along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, including the Beara peninsula, is through one of our hiking and cycling tours. Our tours get under the skin of Irelands wildness and rugged beauty. If you are interested in joining our guided hiking and cycling tours of Ireland we would be delighted to hear from you. But no matter how you explore or what it is that you are searching for, the Beara Peninsula will not leave you disappointed and will have you longing to return long after you leave.