The country’s first horse trail has been completed in West Cork with the assistance of Cork County Council.
The new Beara Bridle Way will allow visitors and locals alike to take in the surrounding landscape of the Beara Peninsula on horseback.
Managed by Beara Tourism, the 17km long trail spans from Castletownbere to Allihies and overlooks mountainous scenery with views across to the nearby West Cork Islands.
The trail, which was initiated in 2016, was developed following a successful Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) funding application with Cork County Council as lead partners.
The total cost of the project was €83,000 with a €53,000 contribution from REDZ and Cork County Council funding the balance.
As part of the trail, Cork County Council has also erected a bridge at a cost of €96,000 in Caminches, Allihies for safety reasons.
This was funded largely by the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Local Improvement Scheme Grant, with match funding from Cork County Council and local landowners.
Horse riders of all experience can undertake the trail by availing of trekking services provided by local riding services.
Jim O’ Sullivan of Beara Tourism said that as the first officially recognised horse trail in the country it was important to follow “correct procedures”.
The British Horse Society came to the area and carried out an assessment and certain criteria had to be met by Beara Tourism and Cork County Council before funding from the REDZ scheme was granted.
“After infrastructural works were completed earlier this year, we got official approval and endorsement from the British Horse Society and Sports Island, which means that the trail is now considered ready to go,” he said.
Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Ian Doyle said that the The Beara Bridle Way gives Cork another touristic advantage during what is a difficult time for the tourism industry.
“The impacts of Covid-19 have affected the tourism industry severely, but sustainable initiatives such as this will place Cork County in a strong position for recovery, once Government restrictions are lifted.
“I look forward to hearing of the trail’s opening in due course. What better way to explore the Wild Atlantic Way and the Maritime Haven that is Pure Cork than on horseback,” he said.