Dogs are not permitted
The Beara Peninsula is a 48km long mountainous finger, shared by counties Kerry and Cork, stretching into the Atlantic Ocean. Quite remote, it has remained perhaps the most unspoilt part of the south west region, and like the peninsulas to the north, is a magical world of mountains and lakes surrounded by a picturesque seacoast. The main industries are farming and fishing, with the latter being based in the port of Castletownbere. The Beara Way was established by a local voluntary group in the early 1990s as a co-operative involving upwards of four hundred landowners to augment the revenues coming from a declining fishing industry through tourism. It is a 206km circular route through magnificently rugged mountain and seacoast scenery which frequently passes by rich evidence of a heavily populated prehistoric past in the form of standing stones and burial monuments. There are also many fine villages, such as Allihies and Eyries, along the route. Terrain consists of mainly quiet tarmac roads, bog roads, cliff and woodland paths and open moorland, some sections of which can be quite rough and remote. The total aggregate ascent is nearly 5300m over the whole route and includes some short but steep climbs. Availability of overnight accommodation is generally good along the route although some of the longer stretches between villages may require careful planning. A loop of the route circumnavigates Bere Island with its great forts, and a spur takes you out (by an exciting trip on Ireland's only cable-car) to sparsely inhabited Dursey Island.
Maps and other information
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At Start/Finish - on street in Glengarriff
The Beara Way - West Cork South Kerry - Beara Tourism & Development
At Start: Express bus service Check with Bus Eireann.
At End: Limited express bus service Check with Bus Eireann.
Aina from Austria
GJ from Cork
Hauke from Dublin
The route to Castletownbere to Eyeries is not affected.
A simple diversion to avoid the affected area is to stay on the road near Fanahy (N 51.649742°,W -9.938832°) and continue on the road towards Knockgour.
Coillte estimates that the closure to be in place until the end of June 2016.
Helen from Kerry
Also the Kerry side of the Way is not as well signed as the Cork side (I say that sadly as a proud Kerry woman). This was worst from Lauragh to Kenmare.
The distances I have listed are those I derived from online and OSI information (however the maps and guide I had to hand were old and the route had been changed in the meantime). Most days we felt we did more than the stated distances.
We did our walk at the end of August. The Beara Way is not as popular as the Kerry Way and the season is shorter so you will need to check if B&Bs etc. are operating before you set out. I know a number of them only open Apr-Sept.
Day 1: Glengariff to Adrigole
Very hard day of walking as conditions underfoot were boggy after rainy summer. This took us over 5 hours with just a very brief lunch break. It felt like a lot longer than 16km. We stayed in the Hungry Hill Hostel in Adrigole which is in the perfect location as it is on the Beara Way (it is also a lovely hostel) – turn right when you reach the main road (R572) at the end of the walk and it is just 100m up the road. Be warned that there is nowhere to eat in Adrigole and the only shop (conveniently close to the hostel) closed at 6pm on the Saturday we arrived. Luckily we got there before 6.
A couple we met later in the week had taken over 8 hours to do that walk on a rainy day.
Day 2: Adrigole to Castletownbere
This was a long day of walking – 7 hours incl ½ hour lunch – but the views are wonderful if you get a clear day. The terrain here was generally easier than the 1st day – however the route does seem to be unnecessarily lengthened taking you back up the hill when you can see the town below. We missed a signpost towards the end of the route which may have added a little to our walk.
Sea Breeze B&B was wonderful and set a very high standard. Its only disadvantage is that it is a little outside the town – when you come onto the R572 at the end of the walk, turn left up the hill back towards Glengariff. However Noralene was more than happy to drop us back into town which was really appreciated.
Day 3: Bere island
This was a very gentle day – we just took the ferry over to Bere island (10 min journey with lots of sailings during the day) and walked to the lighthouse and back. Bere island is a good size and you could do a good walk there if you wish. However we felt like having a rest day.
Day 4: Castletownbere to Eyries (via Allihies)
This was a long day – 7 hours of walking excluding lunch. There is an option to go straight to Eyries which is clearly signposted along the route which would make for a much shorter route – if the weather had been bad we might have been tempted to take this. Again we had lovely views during the day. Allihies is famous for its copper mines and has a museum (which we didn’t visit) and lovely coffee shop (which we did – and enjoyed a hearty lunch). Sadly after lunch it is a bit of a steep uphill as you leave Allihies.
Eyries is a most gorgeous village, winning awards in the Tidy Towns each year, with its houses all painted in bright cheerful colours. We stayed in Coulagh Bay House which is really convenient. A highlight was dinner in the Bistro – booking is essential as it is very popular.
Day 5: Eyries to Lauragh
Again this was a long day – 7 hours excluding lunch. Like day 4 there is no need to take a packed lunch as Ardgroom is half way along the route and has a café and pub. Lauragh does not have a village centre, spread out as it is over 1km of R571. We stayed in Mourlin Lodge which is convenient to the Beara Way (coming onto the R571, you will pass a pub which is sadly closed. Turn left on R571 and Mourlin Lodge is only a few hundred metres up the road). If you arrive early there is Pedals & Boots café beside the post office which I believe is lovely but it shuts at 5pm. Noreen in Mourlin Lodge cooked us a beautiful fish dinner by prior arrangement so all was good.
Day 6: Lauragh to Kenmare
A lot of road walking here and we covered the distance quickly so it seemed like it was shorter than we had estimated – about 6 hours of walking including lunch. The off-road walking here – Knockagarrane & Derrysallagh – could have been better signed. We had a good day but I would not have been happy in overcast weather. About 6km outside Kenmare the route diverges at Dromoughty Lake with an option to head towards Bunane and a short cut back to Glengariff.
Day 7: Dromoughty Lake to Glengariff
Rather than retracing 6km of road walking, we got a lift back to the fork in the road at Dromoughty Lake and started from there. When you reach the N71 the Way directs you back towards Kenmare for a few kilometres on the road until you get to Bunane and then takes you off the main road again. We missed the signs for Bunane and instead joined a looped walk that joins with the Beara Way. By doing this we took a few kilometres off our day but it was also more pleasant as the N71 is a very busy road not safe for walkers. We had a nice day of walking, mainly on small roads, going through a lovely park before reaching Glengariff.
Note: From Kenmare you can take an alternative route back to Glengariff by walking out past the Sheen Falls and after about 14km this reaches Bunane. However we had driven this previously and it is all on back roads with no views and did not appeal.
Mike from Limerick
William from Canada
Rob from Netherlands
Egon from _none
The whole road was very well marked.
Philip Lenaghan from Galway
I did it over 7 nights at the start of June and was happy that there were plenty of campsites, but unfortunately the cable car to Dursey was out of service due to repairs.
Note- there are some changes to the route on this site. Namely between Ardgroom and Lauragh you don't follow the road but go cross country. However it is VERY boggy.
Highlights, Bere Island, campsite at Allihies, Eyeries and that whole peninsula. Viewd of the Skelligs, and the campsite at Lauragh.