Half in Kerry and half in Cork, the Beara Peninsula is Ireland
in a nutshell, with a landscape that is beautiful, magical and full of rugged
charm. A route much less travelled than the Ring of Kerry, Beara's secret is one
that is still quite well kept. Between Glengarriff and Castletownbere the road
is flanked by exposed banks of jagged rock with the rugged peaks of Sugarloaf
Mountain and Hungry Hill in the Caha Mountains. At the hamlet of Adrigole is the
turn off for the Healy Pass, a serpentine road that cuts through the mountains
to the village of Lauragh with views of spectacular glaciated valleys. From
Castletownbere the minor road down leads to Dursey Island, a place of desolate
beauty that is worth visiting. There is nothing on the island other than sheep,
but you won't get the opportunity to travel to an island via a tiny cable car
swinging 30m above the waves, that many times in your life! From this Dursey
detour, you pick up the road to Allihies a quaint former copper mining town,
reminiscent of St Austell in Cornwall. The road then twists and turns through
the iridescent fuchsia clad hills to the brightly coloured cluster of buildings
of Eyeries a village renowned for its tweeness. The road winds further up
through the mountains and the hamlets of Ardgroom and Lauragh before coming out
to Kenmare. The complete loop will take you back to Glengarriff via the Caha
Pass, a precarious winding road literally through the mountains, tunnelled in
the 19th Century.
I would thoroughly recommend this route to anyone who enjoys rugged scenery away
from the crowds. The roads are much narrower than on the Ring of Kerry, with
many twists and turns, but the views are spectacular. We took the detour from
Adrigole to the Healy Pass before rejoining the route to make our way to Dursey
Island. Discussions of whether we would take the ferry across to the island were
in vain as the cable car was not running due to 'essential maintenance'.
Continuing along the coast there were many places where we could have stopped
just to take in more spectacular views, particularly of the Atlantic pounding
the rocky shores. Passing through Allihies the cameras were out again to capture
the colourful houses - just amazing! Before returning to Kenmare another
diversion was taken - this time along Glen Inchaquin, a glaciated valley with a
variety of lakes and waterfalls.
Scroll down to see some of the places and
features en route
Heading up to the Healy Pass . . .
and looking back to see how the road snakes through the Caha
Mountains . . .
Statues near the summit of the Healy Pass
Looking north towards Laragh from the summit
Interesting rock strata in the Caha Mountains
I don't think we'll follow the Moscow sign!
Dursey Island is just across the water . . .
but with no cable car we won't be visiting it today
However, the cliffs are still worth exploring . . .
as the sea pounds against the rocks
Approaching Allihies we spot the many coloured houses . . .
which are worth a closer look . . .
some looking newer (and more colourful) . . .
The road closely follows the coast for much of the way
The waterfall at the head of the Glen Inchaquin valley doesn't
have much water in it today . . .
as we make our way past it . . .
to the restored 19th century cottage . . .
which is lucky enough to have a fireplace . . .
but perhaps the original door would have been more
Lough Cummeenadilure and . . .
Lough Cummeenaloughaun in a hanging valley above the waterfall
. . .
from where we can look back down the valley over Lough
Time for a rest to enjoy the views on the descent . . .
before taking the woodland path back to the car
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