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Posted by on Oct 28, 2009 in Scenery, Southeast | 3 comments

Beara Peninsula Draws Cyclists Seeking a Less-Traveled Irish Coastal Experience

Submitted by Phil

For beautiful coastal views cyclists may wish to tour Ireland’s craggy Beara Peninsula.

Located in the south-west, this stunning outcropping of land is ideal for visitors who want to follow a trail that is dotted with traditional Irish villages and many other sites. The route can be cycled and is also accessible for those using car rental services to travel around the spectacular peninsula.

A popular route with cyclists and motorists, it weaves its way around the perimeter of the region and allows visitors to immerse themselves in Irish culture. Historic Celtic monuments decorate the land, while villages serve up fish that has been freshly caught from the Atlantic. Holidaymakers also have the opportunity to indulge themselves in the serenity of several islands, which are located off the coast of the peninsula. Visitors tend to follow a circular National Cycling Route when touring the area as this features many of the sights that stud the land.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/donncha/2550905456/

Which way from Castletownbere?

Starting near Oak Wood, bicyclists can travel towards the village of Glengarriff, County Cork, where they are able to enjoy the views across Bantry Bay. Surrounded by soaring mountains, the enclave offers connections to Garnish Island, which is a joy for green-fingered day-trippers, who are likely to appreciate its Italian-inspired garden. Back on the mainland, the scenic route continues East towards the village of Adrigole where visitors can stop off and enjoy the views of Hungry Hill located nearby. The impressive peak is home to one of the highest waterfalls in Ireland and draws many visitors who are keen to see it cascading down the landscape.

Anglers and water sports enthusiasts may like to spend some time in the next town along the route. Castletownbere is 10 miles (16km) from Adrigole and offers the chance to try some adrenalin-fuelled pursuits in the Atlantic. Windsurfing is popular here, while golf is also available for those preferring more sedate activities. The remains of the historical Dunboy Castle are situated near the town and offer a glimpse into Ireland’s distant past where the land was ruled by clan leaders.

Cyclists can choose to pop over to Bere Island via Castletownbere or continue around the rugged headland towards Dursey Island, which can be reached by a cable car that gives impressive views of the rolling sea. Ireland’s copper mining past is evident back on the peninsula at Allihies village, where many of the country’s well-known artists now like to spend their time.

Allihies Copper Mine

Allihies Copper Mine

The route winds back towards the East from here adjacent to Kenmare and Coulagh Bay. Staying on the coastal road, cyclists can visit Eyeries Village, which is dotted with brightly painted homes. The enclave of Aardgroom follows, where keen anglers can catch some trout. Continuing to Lauragh, visitors are free to navigate the Healy Pass, where they can fully take in the views of the mountainous countryside or they can stay on the coast and feel the sea winds if they prefer. Cyclists may like to complete their circular journey by heading south towards Glengarriff or for more adventures they can cycle northwards towards the village of Kenmare, where additional touring routes are located.

Click photos for credits.

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3 Comments

  1. As Corey mentions, the Beara Peninsula can be experienced by car as well as by bike. But driving the Beara Peninsula isn’t for the faint of heart.

    My afternoon of driving around Beara was the only time during my two weeks behind the wheel in Ireland when I thought I might have taken on more of a challenge than I could handle. The Healy Pass road has fabulous views but it’s narrow, windy, and mostly lacking in guard rails. The road out to the Dursey cable car is very, very narrow; I spent the entire trip praying I wouldn’t meet a car coming the other way.

    The car and I survived unscathed, and in retrospect I don’t regret doing it. But nervous drivers should stick to the part of the peninsula closer to Glengariff, where the driving is more relaxed and the views are still gorgeous. (This is assuming the roads haven’t changed much since my visit in June, 2007.)

    You can see my Beara Peninsula photos (including several of Healy Pass in the rain) at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8411322@N08/sets/72157600360905102/

    Incidentally, if you stop in Glengarriff, you can also visit Garinish Island (which houses a lovely, peaceful botanical garden). You get there via a short boat trip across Bantry Bay. Photos (including some of the boat trip and the seals in the bay) are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8411322@N08/sets/72157600360700746/

  2. Melissa,

    Thanks for sharing your experience on the Beara Peninsula. You spotted a lot of sheep on that peninsula. I’m especially glad you shared your photos… Christy commented on Facebook that she would have loved to see more pics, and voila, you came through!

    Truthfully, Beara and several other routes in Ireland (Connor Pass near Dingle, the Gap of Dunloe near Killarney are two that come to mind) where the driving can be nerve-wracking. Fortunately, drivers on those roads will likely be extra cautious, so as long as everyone is patient, it usually all works out.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    I must note that I forgot to add the credit for the article to Phil who submitted it… that’s been added now.

  3. My husband and I have been back from Ireland almost a month now and the Beara Peninsula was part of our itinerary. Even though we were staying way out in Schull, a wee bit east of Glengarriff, we chose to drive to Kenmare to begin our drive of the Ring of Beara. This prevented us from driving *up* the winding road to Healy Pass, which would have been a pain with a manual shift car. Just thought I’d pass that hint along, as I appreciate that the hint was passed along to me. :-)

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