The Wild Atlantic Ocean has formed Ireland into the land as we know it today, ravaged by its storms & pounding waves, or on calm days enjoying the therapeutic lapping of its warm waters along our coastal shores and glorious sandy beaches. One of the best places to see how this Ocean has transformed this land into a myriad of inlets, with amazing rock formations, hidden coves & ancient harbours is the beautiful South West region of Ireland. On this holiday, we take you to the more peaceful and unchanged corners of southwest Ireland offering a variety of terrain, all with beautiful views.
The Ring of Kerry is probably Ireland’s most famous attraction as it boasts one of the most panoramic roads in the world with 170kms of jaw-dropping beauty. In truth, it is the Iveragh Peninsula the largest of the five peninsulas that “jut” out into the Wild Atlantic Ocean in the most south westerly corner of Ireland. This unique landscape is captivating, and the heritage town of Kenmare offers a stunning start to your holiday. You will also be rewarded with wonderful beaches, some of the most idyllic views across the Atlantic and an unbelievable coast line.
South from Kenmare lies the Beara & Sheeps Head Peninsulas in the glorious region of West Cork. These peninsulas are a haven of tranquillity, far away from ‘coach-tour’ country and therefore have long been popular with the more discerning traveller. A place apart for walkers & hikers alike. The breathtaking panoramas are dominated by mountains and sea with Bantry Bay diving them from one another.
At the eastern end of Bantry Bay is the village of Glengarriff, from where you can take a short boat trip to Garinish Island, famous for its Italianate Gardens with their sub-tropical flora. At the western tip of the peninsula is Dursey Island, now home to only five souls, and connected to the mainland by Ireland’s only cable car – capacity: 6 people or 1 cow!
This untouched & undiscovered part of Ireland is rich in history, pre-history, folklore and archaeology. Copper and other metals have been mined around this region since the Bronze Ages. The earliest inhabitants made their mark, leaving numerous tombs, standing stones and stone circles dotted across the landscape. The region is rich in mythology: it was the home of the Hag of Beara, a powerful sovereignty goddess whose reputation extends across the whole country.
This stunning South West region of Ireland is an ancient, magical region where the power of the past is ever-present and the present just blooms with welcome for you the visitor.
Your holiday starts in the town of Killarney, where you meet at the old railway station hotel known today as the Malton Hotel. Here – your Guide will meet you at 16.30hours and a courtesy transfer by minivan takes you to the heritage town of Kenmare. On arrival, you will have time for introductions with your group as your Guide goes through some more details for your holiday with you & your group. You then enjoy your first evening meal together & your first 2 overnights are spent in this lovely heritage town of Kenmare.
A short drive outside Kenmare, takes you to an impressive valley where you get the best of Ireland all in one…..a beautiful waterfall, coastal views with surrounding hills & mountains to explore, fields in the valley dotted with snow-white sheep and one of the most peaceful stone circles to contemplate. Your choice of walks is as follows:-
Following a lovely trail around the lower foothills of Gleninchaquin, you will reach an old famine cottage before continuing on through pastures to enjoy the delights of this place. With an opportunity to chat with a local farmer, learn more about the region & farming in Ireland, you come away with a rich & intimate knowledge of life in rural Ireland.
An impressive hike takes you into the hills above Gleninchaquin waterfall & offers wonderful views across the southern shores of the Ring of Kerry. This walk is across open mountains with a mix of bogland & heather to walk over as you complete a glorious circuit with stunning views across the Ring of Kerry & Kenmare Bay.
At the end of your walk, some light refreshments can be enjoyed before you return to Kenmare with some time to explore this wonderful town. Evening at your leisure to enjoy some of the beautiful restaurants in the town.
Travelling south today, your walk takes you to another old Irish farmstead. Here, you will have the opportunity to learn how to make Irish soda bread (and possibly the illicit “poteen”) before enjoying a super walk overlooking west Cork & south Kerry.
Walking through this old farm, you see many remnants of days gone by which is fascinating to see & learn about. Continuing through the farm, and crossing over a small river, you then have a lovely walk following small “boreens” and trails to enjoy a beautiful walk around the foothills of the Caha Mountains. On completion of your circuit, you have the opportunity to continue to the village of Glengarriff, where you can enjoy some free time & refreshment before journeying on to your next destination.
Starting your walk through farmland, you then take to the hills for a beautiful walk along the Cork and Kerry border. With views north across the Ring of Kerry & the impressive McGillycuddy Reeks, you then look south over Bantry Bay, the Beara Peninsula and further south to Sheeps Head & Mizen Head. This wonderful walk takes you across open mountain & bogland with some intermittent rocky sections that demand care on descent. Your Guide will escort you carefully through this beautiful walk to return to your starting point.
At the end of your walk, you drive in your minivan to reach the town of Castletownbere on the southern shores of the Beara Peninsula where you enjoy your dinner & overnight.
From your accommodation, a short walk takes you to the ferry for Bere Island. Once a military stronghold – this glorious island offers both history, magnificent scenery & fascinating stories from the past.
Walking around the western end of the island, you reach a lighthouse that has guided boats into the haven of Castletownbere harbour for 100’s of years. From here, you follow across moorland to reach an old signal tower & then descend to re-join a road & return to the ferry. With time afterwards to enjoy the surrounding beauty of Castletownbere – your Guide will take you to the old O’Sullivan stronghold at Dunboy Castle that offers a rich insight into bygone days.
Starting as above, you then continue to the eastern end of the island, following through the old military base to enjoy some wonderful coastal scenery. From there, you then reach the tiny village of Rerrin where you can relax, enjoy some refreshment & take your ferry back to the mainland.
On your return to Castletownbere, you can enjoy an evening at your leisure.
If weather permits – today will take us to the very western tip of the Beara Peninsula and the delightful Dursey Island. Crossing over by Ireland’s only Cable Car, you can then enjoy a beautiful walk around this glorious place.
Following the main island track, you continue west, passing the island’s only graveyard and also a place of historical significance with the O’Sullivan Bere Clan. From there, you continue west to reach the tip of the island – a place often frequented by migrating whales & dolphins. Return along the same route to take the Cable Car back to your minivan.
From the Cable Car station, you climb to reach the centre of the hills that make Dursey the island it is. Following west across moorland & rock, with no clear trail, you reach a Signal Tower in the centre of the island. A short descent from here, takes you to a trail that leads to the western tip of the island and lands end. Return to the Cable Car along the main island track.
With an option to enjoy learning more about this fascinating island from a local historian, at the end of your walk, if time allows, a short visit to the village of Allihies & the Copper Mines Museum will give you a greater insight into the importance of this tradition to the region.
Return to Castletownbere for an evening at your leisure.
Leaving Castletownbere after breakfast, you drive east to arrive at the market town of Bantry. A short drive outside the town brings you to the start of your walk. From here, you are spoilt for choice as you enjoy stunning walks along hills that form the central spine of the Sheeps Head Peninsula with the Wild Atlantic lapping at both the northern & southern shores of the peninsula.
Without much climbing on foot, you leave your minivan to follow a super walk west along the hills that form the highest point of this peninsula. Following a trail across open mountain, with some rough underfoot conditions, you continue west to reach a small road. From here, you follow back to your minivan to continue your journey west to reach your overnight stop on the southern shores of the Sheeps Head Peninsula.
Following a super mountain track along the central hills of the Sheeps Head Peninsula you continue west with wonderful views south over Mizen Head, north over the Beara Peninsula and Ring of Kerry and west towards the Fastnet Rock and the islands of West Cork. Continue west to reach “Finn McCools Chair” & from here, you then descend to reach a small road & return to your minivan. From here, continue west to reach your overnight stop on the southern shores of the Sheeps Head Peninsula.
On arrival to your accommodation, you will have time to enjoy the delights of the small village of Kilcrohane towards the western end of the peninsula. Dinner and overnight here.
The ultimate walk, and a super finale, takes you from ancient Copper Mines to modern day Lighthouses as you enjoy one of the most glorious walks this region of Ireland offers.
Reaching the tip of this Peninsula – as far as you can drive, you start your walk following a lovely trail through the hills to reach the northern coast of Sheeps Head. From here, you follow west to the tip of the peninsula and the picturesque lighthouse that was assembled by Gulf Oil. This is a favourite look out point for whales, sharks & dolphins. Continuing east, you then complete your circuit with an optional walk to an impressive Signal Tower before you finish.
Starting your walk at an old Copper Mines, you follow through a deserted village to follow west along a stunning coastal walk. As you continue west, you reach the picturesque lighthouse at the tip of the Sheeps Head Peninsula. From here, your walk continues east, passing an old signal tower, to complete your circuit and rejoin your minivan.
Your final dinner & overnight in Kilcrohane is a super way to finish your holiday, exchange memories & focus on all the highlights of your week.
After breakfast, a courtesy transfer by minivan bring you back to Bantry town, arriving at approx. 10am. From here, a good bus service returns you to Cork City where you can then avail of an excellent service of trains, buses, ferry or airports for your onward journey.
Please note : - It is extremely important that you read & understand the WALK DETAILS for each day & that you are able to achieve this. If you would like to discuss your Walking Ability with one of our experts – please arrange a telephone conversation & we will be delighted to assist you with your holiday choice.
Should you require extra night’s accommodation before or after your holiday, please advise us at the time of booking.
Please visit www.irishrail.ie or www.buseireann.ie for public transport in Ireland
Please note that Ireland can be a bit ‘damp’ both underfoot and overhead, with some liquid sunshine! Irish weather is unpredictable and the nature of hikes can change quickly and dramatically because of the weather. This is one of the many pleasant aspects of hiking in Ireland. Benny's Ireland Vacations,Inc.reserves the right to alter this itinerary due to weather conditions or the walking ability of each group.
Not Included: Any boat trips, personal drinks, entrance fees to theatres, parks or museums etc., medical expenses or gratuities.
Comfortable: Terrain varied & occasionally wet underfoot. Best suited to people capable of walking up to 12kms (7.5 miles) daily. You encounter uphill & downhill sections with a max. height of 600 metres (1,950 feet) approx. Ideal first walking holiday or less experienced walkers.
Moderate: Takes you across open-mountain & bogland (wet conditions). Terrain is varied each day with uphill & downhill hiking, some of which may be steep. Max. height is 950 metres (3,100 feet) approx. Suitable for people with good level of fitness & capable of walking up to 20kms (12.5 miles) a day.
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I've lived most of my life on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. My Itineraries demonstrate my knowledge of Ireland. which is why you will be in the best hands.You will be assured that your vacation will be most memorable. Benny's Ireland Vacations is proudly partnered with the most able, reliable & experienced ground handlers in the business in Ireland, The Abbey Group.
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