||THE MIZEN PENINSULA
West Cork has been described as 'A Place Apart', by location - tucked at the very south western end of Ireland. A long bony finger of land pointing boldly into the Atlantic Ocean, the Mizen is different. Magical names: Dereenatra; Knocknaphuca; Ballyrisode; Mount Gabriel, Fastnet Light and Heron's Cove. High hills, low mountains, rivers, streams, hidden valleys, soaring cliffs and sandy beaches and an ocean that is never far from view, it is the ideal holiday destination.
Walker, swimmer, horseman, sailor, painter, golfer, writer, birdwatcher or just professional relaxer this is a place you could be happy in. The weather is mixed and rarely that cold. We enjoy summer sun and unseasonably good weather in spring and autumn. That said, we do rain rather well, mist and fog on occasions and, well, sometimes the wind can be spectacular. The Gulf Stream affects us and there are pockets of lush vegetation and microclimates.
THE VILLAGES OF THE MIZEN
Each village along the Mizen has its own character from the quayside hamlet of Crookhaven with more pubs than shops and nearby access to the long, sandy strands at Barley Cove, Chimney Cove and the Shelly Strand www.crookhaven.ie. There is nothing better than a walk on the beach followed by an incredible crab sandwich in O'Sullivan's pub, whilst watching the gulls sweep up and down the inlet.
Next is sleepy Goleen, which thrums with activity in the summer and returns into hibernation for the winter. It has a couple of bars, café, grocery and the restaurant at Heron’s Cove. The nearest village to the Mizen Vision, and Ireland's most southerly point, the signal station is an all ages, any weather point of interest. www.goleen.info
Schull is fashionable and has some exceptional shops. A bespoke jeweller, quality, individual fashion, local and international craftware and the best of food. There are several bars and cafés all serving the best of local produce. A work out with a view is possible at the bay side open air gymnasium and more off road walks are being developed for the energetic. The Harbour Hotel offers visitors an indoor pool and the small beaches around the harbour are safe for wilder swimming. The Sailing Centre hosts international class Regattas throughout the year and in August there are weeks of sailing events along the peninsula culminating in Schull Regatta. In May the town without a cinema hosts the Fastnet Short Film Festival, an international celebration of film making and in June the town hosts a Triathalon. St Patrick's Day and Hallowe'en are also holidays which the town celebrates with a parade for St Pat and mayhem for the spirit world. www.schull.ie
To the east is post card pretty Ballydehob, its memorable name a reminder that it sits at the mouth of two rivers. It is home to an artistic community, a unique 12 arched viaduct, a reminder of the long gone Skibbereen to Schull railway and the best pubs in which to catch some impromptu traditional music . A village of festivals practically every month Ballydehob celebrates some form of musical celebration. www.ballydehob.ie
... AND BEYOND
From here you hit the N.71 the road which, if you like to tour, links you to Bantry and the Beara peninsula, The Ring of Kerry and Killarney, Skibbereen and on to Cork and the rest of the world. Kerry, Cork airports are roughly 85km. Dublin is roughly 400km and Rosslare ferry port 200 km.
ALL YEAR THROUGH
Bustling and busy, but not over crowded in the height of the season, the Mizen always has an attractive face. Spring, autumn & winter the pace slows and there is time for chat or an impromptu music session in one of the bars. Generally the weather is not unkind and the countryside is still beautiful.
Spring presents us with masses of wonderful flowers in the hedges and meadows, by the seashore and on the high hills. In autumn the ditches and high places are ablaze with montbretia, gorse and bracken the colour of Harris tweed. A winter walk on a deserted beach and hot toddies beside a blazing fire are not an entirely unappetising proposition and prices are kinder outside the high-season summer months.
This is one of the world’s longest and newest touring routes, stretching from Malin Head to the Old Head of Kinsale. It offers visitors many things to enchant and entertain; leading to hidden places along its winding path beside the wild Atlantic. Along the way its rarest gem is the Mizen Peninsula. A long, spiny ridge pointing to America, punctuated by the lonesome Fastnet Rock, the teardrop of Ireland; the last light emigrants could see as they went westward to new lives. The Peninsula distils all that can be seen along the Way. So instead of travelling the long road, dipping in and out of 5,000 visitor attractions, stay here a while and savour this wild, unsung corner of the country.