The name ‘Kerry’ comes from the Old Irish word Ciarraige meaning the people of Ciar, an early Celtic tribe that settled in the area around 300 BC. In fact, Kerry has an outstanding collection of historical and archaeological sites that date back over 7,000 years, with several ancient forts and numerous early Christian churches. Impossibly green pastures stretch as far as the eye can see, completely empty save for small herds of sheep or goats, and at almost every turn there are spectacular views of mist-covered mountains and wild stretches of uninhabitable coastline where deep fissures have been carved, over the eons, by the pounding waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Here and there along the coast, pretty fishing villages, such as Caherdaniel and Portmagee, have successfully withstood the elements and offer a picturesque contrast to the verdant hills that surround them. The Skellig Islands lie 8 miles off the tip of the peninsula, two rocky peaks rising sheer out of the Atlantic Ocean. Skellig Michael is a world heritage site on account of its 6th century monastery, with beehive huts, oratories and inscribed crosses. Small Skellig is home to over 40,000 gannets, the second largest colony in the world.
Kerry’s unique character is drawn from its unequalled diversity of land and seascapes while its offshore islands add another dimension to the beauty of the coastline frequently dotted with castles, forts and watchtowers. Warm summers and mild winters produce many sub-tropical and alpine species of flora while the temperate ocean waters, heated by the Gulf Stream, produce magnificent underwater vistas with whales, dolphins, seals and even turtles being frequent visitors.
The Ring of Kerry traces the coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula beginning in the Oak Woods of Killarney National Park, you will enjoy a visit to the picture-postcard towns of Kenmare, Sneem and Glenbeigh and take a step back in time at historic Derrynane House.
Day 1: Arrive in Killarney – the popular town renowned for its three magnificent lakes in the heart of Kerry. On arrival at your first guesthouse, your hostess will give you your full detailed information pack. She will also be able to suggest some of the many local restaurants or pubs for food and possibly music. Access for this holiday can be from Dublin, Cork or Shannon Airports with bus and/or train connections available to Killarney all year round.
Day 2: You will be transferred/driven to the start of your walk – about 5 km outside Killarney. From here you walk across Killarney National Park and through Esknamucky Glen to the heritage town of Kenmare. This is a glorious walk, giving you an opportunity to see some of Ireland’s native red deer as you walk through the National Park. Overnight in Kenmare. Walk Details: Distance: 22 km. Duration: 6 hours. Max. Height: 400 m. Mountain tracks and green roads. Can be wet underfoot – boots essential.
Day 3: From Kenmare you walk to the award winning village of Sneem via Templenoe. This walk takes you along the shores of Kenmare Bay, with views across to the Beara Peninsula and the Caha Mountains. Overnight in Sneem. Walk Details: Distance: 23 km. Duration: 6.5 hours. Max. Height: 300 m. Forest tracks, some road walking, mountain tracks and country lanes. Boots essential.
Day 4: Continue walking from the village of Sneem, following an old ‘butter road’ to the little village of Caherdaniel – once home of our famous liberator – Daniel O’Connell. The views across the Beara Peninsula and out to the Atlantic Ocean are fantastic. Overnight in Caherdaniel. Walk Details: Distance: 19 km. Duration: 5.5 hours. Max. Height: 400 m. Country lanes, grass tracks, rocky mountains and some road walking. Boots essential.
Day 5: Continuing from the village of Caherdaniel, you walk around and above the coast to reach the village of Waterville. Glorious coastal views out towards the Skellig Islands and Ballinskelligs Bay. Overnight in Waterville. Walk Details: Distance: 16 km. Duration: 5 hours. Max. Height: 350 m. Rocky and grass tracks, mountain tracks and bogland and some road walking. Boots essential.
Day 6: From Waterville, you will once again be driven a short distance to the starting point of today’s walk at Mastergeehy. From here you will be walking to the town of Caherciveen. This walk takes you across the tip of the peninsula with views north over the Dingle Peninsula and south to Kenmare Bay. Overnight in Caherciveen. Walk Details: Distance: 24 km. Duration: 6.5 hours. Max. Height: 400 m. Grass mountain tracks with some rocky sections. Gravel tracks and some road walking. Boots essential.
Day 7: Today’s walk takes you from the town of Caherciveen along the northern shores of the peninsula to the little town of Glenbeigh. This walk follows an old 17th Century “Stage Coach” route and gives spectacular views across to the Dingle Peninsula. You will pass through old deserted villages which were once busy centres of activity, trading with passengers on the old stage coaches. Overnight in Glenbeigh. Walk Details: Distance: 24 km. Duration: 6.5 hours. Max. Height: 350 m. Grass mountain tracks with some rocky sections. Gravel tracks and road walking. Boots essential.
Day 8: From Glenbeigh skirt the slopes of Seefin Mountain and down into the picturesque Caragh valley, following the Caragh River to Blackstones Bridge. Continue through the forestry to the little village of Glencar. Overnight in Glencar. Walk Details: Distance: 14 km. Duration: 4 hours. Max. Height: 350 m. Road walking, mountain rocky tracks, grass tracks and forest paths. Boots essential.
Day 9: From Glencar, follow along by the shores of Lough Acoose to enjoy a spectacular walk into the foothills of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks – following an old ‘droving’ path into the Bridia Valley. From here, continue over a second mountain saddle to the Black Valley for your overnight. Walk Details: Distance: 21 km. Duration: 6 hours. Max. Height: 400 m. Road walking, grass and gravel tracks, open mountain and bogland, can be wet underfoot. Boots essential.
Day 10: From the Black Valley you follow the shores of the Upper Lake of Killarney – along what used to be a ‘mass path’ to Derrycunnihy Church. At this point – you are now back onto your first day’s walking, as you follow your route in reverse -to finish back in Killarney. Overnight here. Walk Details: Distance: 22 km. Duration: 6 hours. Max. Height: 400 m. Mountain tracks and green roads. Can be wet underfoot – boots essential.
Day 11: From Killarney, connections by bus and train are frequent to Cork, Limerick, Shannon or Dublin.
Single Supplement €330.
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Europe Ireland Outdoor: Land Rambler Walking Tours