County Cork, with its unique combination of flora, fauna, history, and landscape, is quietly explored by large numbers of visitors annually along its many walkways, tracks, and trails.
This includes Greenways, which Cork County Council are actively exploring in West Cork, Kinsale and Carrigaline. A Greenway is defined as a combined off-road cycle and walking route and/or recreational trail developed along abandoned rail lines, utility corridors, or other natural linear open spaces such as river banks.
Cork County Council developed a Trails for Tourism Policy which was adopted in December 2015 by Full Council.
The aim of the policy is to make Cork an attractive destination for trails to be enjoyed by residents and domestic and international visitors, develop an overall ‘Trail Experience’ through widening the amenities and services available whilst maximising the economic impact of the trails. Through the promotion of trails, the policy aims to support rural regeneration, economic development and tourism in a sustainable manner.
Cork County Council currently supports four significant walkways in Cork:
The Blackwater Way (the combined Duhallow and Avondhu Ways) is a 168 km linear long distance walking route that stretches from the borders of west County Waterford across north County Cork and into the County of Kerry, following the valley of the River Blackwater. It is part of the European E8 route.
Ballyhoura Way is a 98km long distance walking route that crossed North Cork, Limerick and Tipperary. The route crosses four upland stretches, one long one over the Ballyhoura Mountains (highest point Seefin, at 510 metres), two short ones over Benyvoughella Hill and Slievereagh, and then a long traverse on the southern flanks of the Slievenamuck ridge, overlooking the beautiful Glen of Aherlow.
The Beara Way is a 196km circular route through magnificently rugged mountain and seacoast sceneryThe Beara Peninsula is a 48km long mountainous finger, shared by counties Kerry and Cork, stretching into the Atlantic Ocean. Quite remote, it has remained perhaps the most unspoilt part of the south west region.
Sheep’s Head is the narrowest of the fingers of land that extend from the south west mainland of Ireland out into the Atlantic, between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay. The Sheep’s Head Way is 175km length in total. It is made up of the 88km circular walking route beginning in the town of Bantry in County Cork and running out along the north coast of the peninsula to the scenic lighthouse at the very tip before returning along the south side, passing through the pretty villages of Kilcrohane, Ahakista and Durrus, with the extensions to Drimoealgue and Kealkill to the north providing the additional 87km.
The county is host to a large array of other walkways and scenic trails for you to explore. The Irish Sports Council has extensive information on the variety of walking, hiking, and biking activities that can be undertaken in County Cork. Further information can be found here.