Travel in Ireland The Beara Way
The southwest of Ireland is marked by several long peninsulas that jut out like fingers into the Atlantic. By far the most popular is the Ring of Kerry, a gorgeous region that unfortunately has become spoiled by the tour buses that rattle down its slender roads. Second in popularity is the Dingle Peninsula just to the north.
Perhaps even more beautiful is Dingle, where coachloads of visitors elbow for the best vantage spots to capture Europes last sunset each night.
Just as spectacular as Dingle or the Ringand some say more so Beara is the place to get away from it all. Its principal town and port is the colorfulCastletownbere, protected from the heavy winds of Bantry Bay by Bere Island and the second largest natural harbor in the world.
The Beara Peninsula is home to one of Irelands best and most rugged long-distance trails. For those wanting to leave the crowds and the car behind give the 120-mile-long Beara Way a go. Tour companies offer guided treks but since youre never more than three miles from the sea on this peninsula, youre not likely to find yourself lost, though you will need a map.
If the Bere and Dursey Island portions are included the Beara Way takes eight to 12 days to traverse. Start from the Cork town of Glengarriff and consult Michael Fewers excellent book on the trail for section maps and highlights. The walk includes several roads, sheep paths, and rough mountain trails. Be sure to stop at the Hungry Hill Lodge, a fine hostel and campsite near the beginning in Adrigole.
For More Info
The Beara Way: Guides to Way Marked Trails by Michael Fewer. This definitive guide to the walk includes ordnance maps. Dont hike without it.
West Cork Walks by Kevin Corcoran is a good overview.
Walking In Ireland (Lonely Planet) by Sandra Bardwell et al, includes a helpful section on the Beara Way.
www.bearatourism.com includes extensive listings of accommodations, walking, cycling routes, history, and numerous activities
www.bearainfo.com is a good resource listing local businesses, news, and miscellany.
Camping and Hostels
Camping rough is easy on Beara. Check with landowners first.
Hungry Hill Lodge, www.hungryhilllodge.com. This is an excellent hostel and campsite (starting at 6 euros) in the village of Adrigole. Highly recommended for hikers and cyclists. Tel: 353-27-60228, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beara Hostel, www.bearatourism.com/hostels/index.html. A hostel and campsites outside Castletownbere; Tel: 353-27-70184.
The Peacock, www.neidin.net/peacock, located in Kenmare, offers camping and cabins for the Beara Way finish. Tel: 353-64-84287.
SEAN HICKEY is a composer and writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. His articles have appeared in New Music Connoiseur, 21st Century Music, The Burlington Free Press, and Trailsource.com.