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Ardnakinna Lighthouse Loop

Inland, the landscape is dominated by Slieve Miskish and Caha Mountains, but the picturesque fishing villages dotted along the shoreline are where it all happens. A magnet for walkers, the 196km Beara Way takes around eight days to complete, however, take time to discover the delights of an offshoot of the main route with a trip to the sublime Bere Island via ferry from Castletownbere. With two looped routes (details below) on offer from the east or west side of the island, the adventurous amongst you could combine the two in a figure of eight, taking around eight hours from start to finish.

West Island Loop

Catch the ferry from Castletownbere to the western part of the island. The 10km route from the pier takes around four to five hours to complete and leads you on a series of tracks, lanes and pathways past the main landmarks of the area. Take in the stunning coastal views as you ascend the 258m hill that forms the spine of the island. It’s a gradual climb, but you will be rewarded by 360º panoramic views over Bantry Bay and the Beara and Sheep’s Head Peninsulas. Check out the striking white tower of the Ardnakinna Lighthouse, which is characterised to mariners by its distinctive two white and red flashes every 10 seconds. Follow the route downhill again until you reach the starting point at the pier.

Rerrin Loop

Catch the ferry from Castletownbere to the village of Rerrin on the east side of the island. The 6km route passes several sites of historical importance, including two of the four Martello Towers originally built to defend against an attack from Napolean in 1796. Moving on, you will also spot more recent military sites, including seven gun batteries, stemming from the island’s position as a military outpost during British rule. Along the route, older archaeological Bronze Age sites are clearly marked with interpretive panels for your reference. The signposted path will guide you back to Rerrin where you can enjoy the wonderfully atmospheric pubs and restaurants dotted around the village.

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