We could create a list of 100 hidden gems but here is a select few for you to experience. Here is a list of places to visit that may be slightly off the beaten track. The best thing about this list... everything is free to enter, so get exploring!
Technically not a ‘hidden’ gem as it is hard to miss, with its two distinctive radar domes (which look like two footballs from afar). However, few people travel to the peak and miss out on the breath-taking view of Schull, Long Island Bay, Roaring Water Bay, Carbery’s Hundred Isles, Beara and finally South Kerry. All from one spot, amazing.
Start this walk by following a cliff path over a rocky headland to combine a walk of Warren Strand, and walk towards Owenahincha beach. From here you will be able to witness some beautiful views of Galley Head and neighbouring Long Strand. On a clear day you may be able to see the rocky Stags off Toe Head.
The Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop Walk is located at the tip of the Sheep’s Head peninsula. A walk to the lighthouse takes in spectacular coastal scenery and is part of the overall Sheep’s Head Way trail. The Lighthouse Loop walk allows visitors walk to the lighthouse and return to where they began at Tooreen Car Park.
See here for more info: http://livingthesheepsheadway.com/
Baltimore is steeped in history, with ruined castles and shipwrecks, each telling their own story. There are watch towers spread across the south west coast, which in the past were used to warn neighbouring areas of attack, such as the Sacking of Baltimore in 1631.
Get the Hiking boots out as the only way to reach this 15th century tower is on foot though fields! The half hour trek is well worth it, when you catch a glimpse of the castle and Dunlough Bay. According to one visitor on Trip Advisor “Three Castle Head could easily be the set of Game of Thrones, but built in Norman times.”
According to the Drimoleague Walkways Site: “Leaving Castledonovan Bridge, walk the old mass path along the banks of the Ilen River, with its cascades, cliffs and patchwork field systems. This linear walk takes about one hour. You get a real feel for the river, with its cascades, dippers and occasionally an otter. A huge river bend in the form of an ox bow is quite interesting, as are the archaeological features you can see from here, a mound at Seehanes, and a ringfort at Deelish. The path joins a quiet road and continues to the Ahanafunsion bridge amenity area.”
You can download free of charge an MP3 audio file which contains a fifteen minute radio programme about the Deelish Cascades Walk, with local heritage, folklore and things to watch out for as you walk. www.westcorkwalks.com
See more info here: http://drimoleaguewalkway.com/the-walks/
Lought Hyne is found between Skibbereen and Baltimore. It is just 1km long and 3/4km wide, this marine lake is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via Barloge Creek, by a narrow tidal channel, known as the Rapids. Lough Hyne is one of the most important marine habitats in Europe and was made Ireland's first Marine Nature Conservation Reserve. The lake has a unique habitat of warm oxygenated seawater, which sustains a huge variety of marine plants and animals including 72 species of fish.
The lake is a very popular area for swimming and kayaking, a climb up Mount Knockoumah rewards with stunning views down into Lough Hyne and out to the Atlantic Ocean
Small and secluded, Duneen Beach near Clonakilty is the perfect place for an evening walk or picnic. Park your car at Dunmore house and then walk just over a kilometre and a half to Duneen beach. This walk will offer some of the most lovely views over Clonakilty Bay.
Situated in the spectacular Glengarriff Nature Reserve, this walkway is a perfect evening out if you are exploring the Beara Peninsula.
Directions: Leaving the main car park cross the footbridge and turn left. Half way round this circular walk, is a footbridge (cross the bridge if you wish to embark on the Big Meadow walk). To continue the River Walk, ignore the bridge and carry straight on until you near the public road. Climb the steps and in a few minutes you’ll be back at the car park.
See more info here: http://www.glengarriffnaturereserve.ie/activities
According to local history, Timoleague Friary was founded by the Franciscan Order in 1240. The friary was built on the site of a monastic settlement founded by Saint Molaga in the 6th century. The village’s name comes from the Irish for House of Molaga, “Tigh Mologa.”The friary was extended by Donal Glas McCarthy in 1312, and by Irish and Norman patrons in the 16th Century. The monks were dispersed by the Reformation, but returned in 1604. In 1612, the friary was sacked by English soldiers.The friars remained, however, until 1629. The abbey is steeped in history and is one of the most defining features of Timoleague Village. It is an excellent place to explore and a perfect location to take in the views of Timoleague and Courtmacsherry Bay.
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