The Beare essentials

Tumbling cloud, waterfalls, Siberian warblers, the odd cyclist

If you're looking for wild peace, head for south-west Ireland. The coast beyond Tralee offers a chance to get off the beaten track. At Glengarriff, crowds of daytrippers and tourists stop to visit the lush Italian garden on Garnish Island, then pursue a well-worn path north to Killarney or south to Bantry. Between these towns lies the Beare Peninsula, overlooked and under-visited.

As Beare begins, the traffic thins out. You pass spectacular views across Bantry Bay, and away from the coast the Caha Hills begin to rise steeply, as if ironed for sharpness along their ridges.

As I cruised the car towards Adrigole, where the coastal road begins, the sky promised rain - what they call "soft" weather in Ireland - and clouds tumbled down the hillside to the sea, like a bundle of spilt laundry. Beare's wildness, the hunches and twists of the coastal highway, and its brooding, straggly terrain give the peninsula an elemental allure. There were no fraught motorists, nose-to-tail in second gear, and equally no horse-drawn caravan adventurers with their holiday dreams being poisoned in a slipstream of carbon monoxide.

At Castletownbeara, the only town, I found the tourist information hole- in-the-wall behind the main street. A spindly New Zealander with a backpack was asking the times of buses to Dursey, the wildlife island off the westernmost tip of the mainland. He'd be looking for the minibus, he was told. "Mind you, it won't run with less than six passengers," smiled the woman through the tiny kiosk window, and added, "The minibus owner won't trouble to give a departure time. In fact, it hardly runs any more."

The hiker hoisted his rucksack. But this being Ireland, he was not to be disappointed. "Maybe try Aldo," the woman said, and scribbled a phone number on a memo pad. "Say I told you. Aldo might take you in his car. It's a four-wheel drive."

I pictured Aldo ensconced in his driver's seat, embellishing frequent sightings of cairns and standing stones, plus the odd megalithic tomb, with the whisper of legend.

More intrepid travellers take to the open air. There is a breath-sapping hike up Hungry Hill, to the source of Ireland's highest waterfall. And there is a trickle of cyclists, scaling the coast road beneath the ridge of the Slieve Miskish mountains. Heads down, they pedal with a steady, indefatigable rhythm towards the rainclouds. Bikes can be hired from the Supervalu, Main Street, Castletownbeara, for pounds 7 ("perhaps a wee bit less" for children).

Snugly in my car, I headed for the Dursey cable car. I arrived just before the first afternoon crossing. A bedraggled handful of cyclists had made it there already, and were eyeing up the rickety, rusting, but clearly functioning contraption that swings its passengers (sheep and cattle, as well as humans) to and fro some 50 feet above Dursey Sound, between the island and the mainland. Perched on the outer edge of Europe, the remoteness of this area makes it a sanctuary for rare birds, and a twitcher's paradise.

Tiny fields fan out from the summit of the island to the cliffs, and are a haven for choughs and ravens, warblers from Siberia, and the spikey North American Oven Bird, its green plummage camouflaged by the undulating greenness. The tapering island, with its holy well and standing stones, is walkable, but exposed. Blurred by the mist, it takes on a looming, baleful aura.

Back on the mainland, and the route around Beare Peninsula unfolds a necklace of dazzling, clean, deserted beaches. It also offers one of the most arresting views in the west of Ireland as you gaze across the horn of sea and sand from the headland at Ballydonegan Bay. Minutes later, you may see a clump of cultivated red roses among rock and scrub, marking the place of a long-ago garden, the last sign of a family's erstwhile history and demise.

The road clings tenaciously to the seaboard, a switchback ride not for the car-sick, passing through Eyeries, a rainbow village with houses and pub almost luminescent, piercing the gloom of a drab afternoon.

Having completed the 88 miles of the circuit around the peninsula, the Ring of Beare, I gazed back westwards from Kenmare. The mountains of Caha and Slieve Miskish blended in silhouette, peak after peak, fringed by the sun's belated appearance. It was as if this was a benediction on a landscape of recalcitrant magnificence.

To the edge of Europe

The closest air and sea port is Cork. From here, if you do not have a car contact the Irish bus and rail company, CIE, in Dublin (00 353 1 836 6111).

Information facilities in the area are seasonal, and the Irish Tourist Board in London (0171-493 3201) suggests you contact the Cork and Kerry Tourist Office in Cork City (00 353 21 273251 from the UK).

Accommodation can be found from the B&B Guide, which costs pounds 2.50 (plus pounds 1.50 postage) from the Irish Tourist Board.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice