Walking and Hiking - Gougane Barra and Beyond...
Walking in Gougane Barra is so enjoyable with trails starting at the front door, from linear marked routes, unmarked open mountain walks to quiet country roads. Don’t forget your walking boots, maps, picnic and recommendations from us on weather conditions, routes to suit your ability, and sights to see on your planned hike.
Coillte's Gougane Barra National Forest Park
Gougane Barra National Forest Park has reopened after the felling and removal of the Japanese Larch trees last year which had 'sudden oak death'. Time to go walking in the valley again!
Coillte’s National Forest Park is in this valley, with the entrance only ten minutes from our front door. It has well-marked walking trails in 350 acres of forestry suitable for all grades of walkers. We love walking ‘Slí Laoi’ which follows the early stages of the River Lee in the upper valley and ‘Slí Sléibhte’ which takes you to where the forestry meets the mountain and has one of the best views of the valley.
We have maps at reception that will help you explore the many interesting trails, its also a relaxing natural place to have a picnic.
The Beara-Breifne Way
The Beara-Breifne Way follows the fourteen day march of Donal O’Sullivan Beara and one thousand supporters in the winter of 1603. The Way, the longest in Ireland, runs almost the length of the country and takes the walker along the coast of the Beara Peninsula, across six mountain ranges, along the banks of the River Shannon and through the regions of Roscommon and Leitrim. It is possible to do this walk in sections.
Slí Gaeltacht Mhúscraí
Slí Gaeltacht Mhúscraí is a section of the Beara-Breifne Way that takes you through the Múscraí Gaeltacht which stretches from Gúgán Barra to the shoulders of Mullach na Ois, taking in Béal Athán Ghaorthaidh (Ballingeary) and Baile Mhúirne (Ballyvourney) on its way. Slí Gaeltacht Mhúscraí links the Beara Way and St Finbarr’s Pilgrim way at Kealkill, crosses the Muskerry Gaeltacht, and joins the Duhallow way at Millstreet. (Total distance 50km) or in many shorter local sections.
Stretching from the Top of the Rock, Drimoleague, to Gougane Barra, at a distance of 37km, this ancient pilgrim two day walk follows in the footsteps of St.Finbarr who visited Drimoleague in the 6th century. The walk passes through Kealkill, taking in part of the Carriganass walks on the way. The walk is challenging in places (refer to the booklet A guide to the Sheep’s Head Way – Eastern Routes) There is a Pilgrim Paths Day on Easter Sunday this year, when there will be guided walks in the steps of St. Finbarr, arriving in Gougane on Easter Sunday.
Carriganass Castle Walks
On the outskirts of Kealkill village, in the heart of West Cork, Carriganass Castle played a dramatic role in one of Irish history's most exciting stories. In 1602, the castle's owner, Donal Cam O'Sullivan Bere, led his followers past its gates on a march to Leitrim that would see him join the Flight of the Earls from Ireland; that flight itself marked the end of Gaelic civilisation in Ireland. Today's visitors can explore the picturesque castle grounds, and many walkers each year take advantage of the waymarked routes that wind their way past this amazing monument at Carraig an Easa - 'the rock of the waterfall'.
Your visit to West Cork isn't complete until you've taken a walk through history at Carriganass, just 9 miles from Gougane. The walks include ‘Póc an Tairbh’ loop walk,
‘Srón na Gaoithe’ Loop Walk, and Kealkill Stone Circle.
The Beara Way
The Beara Way, incorporating part of the Beara Breifne Way based on the march of O Sullivan Beare in 1603. The Beara Way is a long distance walking route around the highly spectacular peninsula with a large concentration of historical and archaeological sites en route. The main towns on the route are Castletownbere, Kenmare and Glengarriff. There are a number of colourful villages in between; Allihies, Ardgroom, Adrigole and Eyeries. Bere Island and Dursey Island offer amazing walks after a short trip by ferry or very exciting cable car.
The Sheeps Head Way
The Sheeps Head peninsula juts into the Atlantic, like a thin finger pointing towards America sitting between Dunmanus and Bantry Bay. It is one of the most beautiful, quiet, unspoilt and award-winning walking areas in the South West of Ireland within 30 minutes from here. Both areas have extensive marked walking routes, big scenery, with guide books available.
The Horse Shoe in Gougane Barra
This is a high walk suitable for the highly skilled, well equipped walker on unmarked mountain that surrounds this valley.
For the more energetic there are interesting guided walks with knowledgeable local guides bringing small groups on day trips to hidden valleys and mountain peaks in this area. We also have recommendations for experienced guides for the ascent of Carrauntoohil (Ireland’s highest peak) and other high peaks in the South West. It is also possible to arrange a local guide for your family or group.
- Hillwalk Tours, for guided/self guided walks on the Beara Way, Sheep's Head way or even the Kerry way.
- Outdoors Ireland, for guided walks and other outdoor activities in Kerry, with Nathan Kingerlee.
Recommended guide book & maps
- West Cork Walks by Kevin Corcoran
- Osi Discovery Map, no. 85 available in our online shop
- Maps for Coillte walks available at reception
- Drimoleague Heritage Walkways by David Ross
- Scenic Walks in West Cork by Damien Enright