Beara Peninsula, Where is it, what to see, what to do and where to go
Beara is the middle peninsula of five stretching some 30 miles (48 Km) South West from the N71 road linking Glengarriff and Kenmare. It is surrounded by the clear waters of Bantry Bay to the South, the Atlantic Ocean to the West and the Kenmare River to the North. The spine of Beara is formed by the rugged Caha Mountains, Hungry Hill (685 metres or 2245 ft. high), The Sieve Miskish Mountains and Sugarloaf Mountain (575 metres or 1887 ft. high). Warmed by the Gulf Stream, the climate is temperate throughout the year supporting a unique combination of highly colourful flora, fauna and wildlife. The combination of coastline, mountains, natural colours, vast expanses of sea and sky with continuously changing light provide for an astonishing variety of huge panoramas, scenes and sights of inspirational quality.
Castletownbere is the principal town of Beara and is also Ireland’s largest white fish port. The town is encircled to the North by the Sieve Miskish Mountains. The Harbour lies sheltered from the severest weather by the Haven and forms part of the town centre.
Beara is unquestionably the wildest and most romantic and spectacular peninsula in Ireland. Passing it by is missing one of life’s best experiences. Spending time will give you days of enjoyment and relaxation.
Some suggestions for the wide variety of things to do and places to go On Beara.
Touring/cycling The Ring of Beara road, from Kenmare to Glengarriff via Lauragh, Ardgroom, Eyeries, Allihies, Castletownbere and Adrigole (or vice versa!), follows along the coastline for most of its length with detours to allow some island hopping to Bere Island and (via cable car, then on foot) to Dursey Island. The Healy pass which crosses over the spine of the peninsula from Lauragh to Adrigole should not be missed. The roads are ideal for a relaxed drive, short or longer strolls, and for cyclists (cycles can be hired locally and can be delivered to Rodeen). Don’t rush it, the continuously changing views are worth regular stops. Some suggested detours from the main ring are :-
Glen Inchiquin Park – Lakes, Waterfalls, Mountains, Walks
Glanmore Lake – Lake and valley scenery
Glenbeg Lough – Lake surrounded by mountains
Ballydonnegan Beach and The Copper Mines of Allihies
Garnish – Beach, views and coastline strolls
Dursey Island (via cable car) – Spectacular views, whale watching, bird sanctuary and wildlife
Bere Island – Martello Towers, Holy Cross, Ardnakinna Lighthouse, Beara Way.
Walking The Beara way has been developed specifically for walkers who may either wish to attempt the full walk or to take chosen sections. It is clearly marked with many access points along its route. In addition, there are many loop walks varying in length from about 2 to 15 Km depending upon fitness! For the more adventurous and experienced Hungry Hill beckons with 360 degree views from its summit, plus the other ridges of the Caha and Mishkin ranges.
Angling Sea angling around Beara is considered to be some of the finest to be found anywhere, from both the number of species to the potential quantities available. There are some 23 Shore angling sites around the peninsula, apart from inland fishing at lakes. Sea angling from purpose built high speed vessels is available.
Archaeology The Beara Peninsula is rich in sites of historical and archaeological interest, from wedge tombs ,which are thousands of years old to church sites and castles of more recent origin. The area is dotted with stone circles, alignments and gallauns.
Gardens Apart from the sub-tropical gardens at Rodeen Country House also visit Ilnacullin located in Glengarriff, Derreen Gardens at Lauragh. These gardens are close to Rodeen which is also an excellent starting point for day trips to gardens on the West Cork Garden Trail – see West Cork Garden Trail.
Kayaking/Sailing/Diving The coastline of Beara is ideal for sailing and kayaking at both advanced and inexperienced levels. From an introductory kayaking session to a full day trip contact West Cork Sea Kayaking at West Cork Sea Kayaking. For sailing courses see West Cork Sailing. For diving see kenmarebaydiving.com
Retreat Centre The Dzogchen Beara Retreat and Spiritual Care Centre always welcomes visitors. There are few exceptions to this, dictated by certain retreat events. Set high on the cliff tops at Garannes the atmosphere, coastline and Atlantic scenery are magnificent and inspirational. For more details – Dzogchen Beara Retreat Centre.
Art Galleries Beara has long been recognised for the inspiration it gives artists. There are excellent galleries and studios at Glengarriff, Adrigole, Castletownbere, Allihies and Tousist. For information for some of the galleries see Mill Cove Gallery, Sarah Walker Gallery, Katherine Hammond Gallery.
MacCarthys Bar Visit MacCarthys Bar, the world famous pub featured in Pete McCarthy’s hilarious book of the same title. It is one of few pubs which still is as it always used to be. Traditional music and pub food is available here and in other Bars in the town.
Dursey Island Lies at the West end of the Beara Peninsula. It is reached by Ireland’s only cable car and is renowned for its wildlife. Whales and dolphins are regularly seen plus the full range of sea birds, so bring the binoculars. The island is well known for the variety of birds to be seen, particularly during the migration seasons.
Photography The photographic potential on Beara is exceptional, whether one is interested in coastal, mountain, lake or sky scenery, panoramic views, wildlife or old buildings. A few examples are on this site. For more try www.balooz.com
Beaches/Strands These are to be found all around the coast of the peninsula.
Golf A picturesque 9 hole course two miles East of Castletownbere overlooks the Haven and Bere Island where visitors are always welcomed.
News and other links For news of the Beara Peninsula and other contacts see Beara Information, and for more information on Beara go to Beara Tourism.