Key information: Beara Way
- One of Ireland’s finest long-distance trails contours along the middle slopes of the remote Beara Peninsula, taking in some lesser hilltops, seldom on the sea and seldom above 300m. Stunning views.
- Follow old lanes and tracks through varied scenery: beaches to clifftops to sheep-studded fields to mountains and moorland. Stay in traditional villages, enjoy the local ways and friendliness.
- Walkopedia rating85
- Natural interest14
- Human interest10
- Negative points2
- Total rating85
- Note: Neg: likely bad weather
- Length: 168km
- 10 days
- Maximum Altitude: 660m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
The magnificent 206km Beara Way is the one of Ireland’s finest long-distance trails. It contours along the middle slopes of the remote Beara Peninsula, taking in some lesser hilltops, seldom on the sea and seldom above 300m. It has stunning views across Bantry Bay to the south and (even better) over the Kenmare River northward to the Iveragh Peninsula and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountains.
Follow old lanes and tracks through varied scenery: beaches to clifftops to sheep-studded fields to mountains and moorland. Stay in traditional villages, enjoy the local ways and friendliness. Quite a bit of the way is on old country lanes. Elsewhere, this might detract the delight, but not here; many of Beara’s lanes are approaching art forms in their own right, so pretty and interesting and empty are they.
The Way is not excessively demanding walking in itself, although you can be in for some long days depending on how you plan. It takes around 9 days if walking in full, reduced to 7 if you omit Bere and Dursey Islands. The trail starts and ends in Glengarriff. If you need to shorten your walk, the obvious days to drop are Bere Island and Dursey Island.
Day 1: Glengarriff to Adrigole – a longish but stunning trudge along slopes and ridges of the south-east, crossing the path north of the Sugarloaf, with gorgeous views much of the way, mostly southward across beautiful Bantry Bay. (17km, 4-6hrs). ..
Day 2: winds along the slopes of sinisterly-named Hungry Hill and Maulin to pretty Castletownbere.
Days 3/4: You can then divert to circuit Bere Island in Bantry Bay, or plough on to Allihies on an old cattle droving track across the shoulder of the Slieve Miskish Mountains, enjoying exceptional and varied views as you trudge.
Days 4/5: Thence you have a very delightful there-and-back walk along the narrowing last gasp of the peninsula to the cable car at its end. You make a fine circuit of the final hills, with huge sea views, a good walk in ita own right if marred by a stretch on the main road. And on the Dursey Island: the Way circuits this little island at the tip of the peninsula in 14km/ around 4 hours. Stunning land-and-seascapes, and the whole island is a wildlife reserve, to boot. Access is by Ireland’s only and slightly alarming-looking cable car.
Days 4-6: Allihies to Eyeries is firmly north-coast, crossing a Slieve Miskish sub-ridge on an old miners' track, with more obligatory visual joys.
Days 5-7: The trail to Ardgroom is coastal, then inland-valley, then a short stretch of ridge above the Kenmare River bay mouth.
Days 6-8: Then it is on to Lauragh and Tuosist via a longish roadside stretch, then hillsides via a couple of stone circles, enjoying some areas of open forest and of course stunning views.
Days 7-9: Tuosist onward to Boname is one of the greatest of all stretches, crossing a shoulder of Cummeenanimma to reach the famous Uragh Stone Circle on a low isthmus between the lovely Cloonee Loughs. It then enters wild, lonely, ravishing scenery to cross a high ridge and drop via a near-invisible stone circle to the deep and tear-inducingly lovely valley below Dromoghty Lough. A quiet lane takes you up the valley and over a pass below the Knocknagorraveela ridge to drop to the wide Sheen river valley and the hamlet of Bonane.
Days 8-10: The last stretch turns south and crosses Esk Mountain to drop through the Gelgarriff Woods to..er... Glengarriff. Slightly marred by the busy main road in places.
There is a section of the Beara Way near you wherever you are on the Beara Peninsula, so you always have a fine day walking option at hand. The whole Way is excellent walking, so you can simply head for your nearest stretch.
As mentioned elsewhere, there is limited ability to create your own circuits, so day walks on the Way tend to need to be there-and-backs, unless you can fix a pickup or drop-off.
Accommodation at Beara is generally good, but careful planning will be needed so as to end your days somewhere you can stay. E.g Boname does have accommodation but you will want to get it booked in good time.
Please visit our friends Hillwalk Tours’ website [insert link for the Beara Way page on Hillwalk Tour’s website] for more information on this walk.
The South-west gets a lot of rain, plus cloud/fog and occasional winter snow on high ground. Take great care with wayfinding in foggy/mist/cloudy conditions, indeed the mountains aren’t much fun if you won’t be able to see! There is little shelter on the mountains, either from sun or rain. Be prepared, both mentally and with the right kit.
See our Beara Peninsula page for more general and practical information and photos. Wikipedia has a good introductory page on the Beara Way too.
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