Hill Walking in Kerry
Iveragh and Beara Peninsula.
Hill walking and hiking in Kerry is very popular and when you visit this region you will see why.
10 Days Walking and Hiking in Kerry.
Hill walking in Kerry is the best way to really see and enjoy the natural beauty that this county in Ireland has to offer.
A group of us decided to go Hill Walking and hiking in Kerry to check out some walk for weekends we were planning to have here later in the year. I also wanted to walk the Kerry way while I was in the area. Myself, Angela and Gillian travelled down from Dublin with a break along the way. Dairine, Martha, Lydia, Martha, Francis and Liz where all making their own way. We met up at the Kenmare Bay Hotel just outside Kenmare town.
Some of those who planned on coming had to cancel due to Covid issues, self-isolation and sore legs from walks over the Christmas. So, were are 8 of us in total for the next few days. After meeting up and having a quick swim and sauna at the hotel we went for dinner and a few drinks to discuss our plans for the following few days.
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Top Tips for Hill Walking and hiking in Kerry:
The terrain on the hills and mountains of Kerry can be very damp, particularly in winter. I would recommend an extra pair of good walking boots.
- Good Waterproof walking Boots are essential for hiking in Kerry.
- Make sure you have a map and compass of the area you are walking in.
- Waterproof Jacket is essential and leg gaiters.
- Bring plenty of water and extra snacks
- If walking in winter, make sure you bring a torch.
The Green Road to Kenmare from Killarney
Length 10Km from Galway Bridge to Kenmare.Total Ascent: 307m
Some of the group wanted to walk parts of the Beara way while I was sticking with my plan on walking the Kerry Way. We decided we would walk from Killarney (Galway Bridge) back to Kenmare the following day.
The next day we were up early for breakfast, so we could drive back towards Killarney for our first leg of this trail. Myself, Gillian and Angela continued on straight from Galway bridge on the “old Green Road” towards Kenmare while Dairine and the rest decided to check out another section of the trail first.
This section of the Kerry Way is a lovely easy walk with just a few inclines and river crossings as you make your way through a wonderful scenic valley. The trail passes between Peakeen Mountain and Knockanaguish. This is the old road between Killarney and Kenmare and along the way you can traces of old ruins of houses, villages and farmyards. It’s a nice trail and eventually leads out onto a public modern road towards Kenmare.
The hill walking in Kerry today was a nice short section of just over 10Km and once we reached our hotel, we had to return to Galway bridge to pickup our car while some others in the group checked out the local pub in Kenmare.
We had a look about the town and had a lovely meal at The Brew bar, yummy burgers.. then it was back to the Hotel for a drink before hitting the hay for the evening.
Walking the Kerry Way in Ireland
Walking from Kenmare to Sneem and a Big Stone outside a Pub
The next day Angela dropped me out to Templenoe to start my walk along the Kerry way towards Sneem. The rest of the group traveled towards Dursey to experience Ireland’s only Cable car to Dursey Island for a walk here.
The Day started off quite chilly but soon brightened up as I made way along the coastline of Kenmare Bay towards Blackwater. This was an absolutely beautiful section of the walk with the sun shinning over the Beara Peninsula and reflecting of the sea between us. There was a lovely picnic spot on the side of the coastline in the woods, so I stopped and had a cup of tea while enjoying the views while listening to the distant chug chug of a small fishing boat collecting its sea harvest.
As I made along towards Blackwater the trail hugged the coastline the whole way. At Blackwater I crossed over a bridge and road to a more inland stretch of the trail. Here the trail starts to climb offering wonderful views of the surrounding hillsides and the whole of Kenmare Bay. The trail passes by many old ruins and roadways of an older time where these would have been the main routes between these villages.
The I crossed over the road again closer towards the coastline but traveling on old borreens between small farmlands parallel to the main road until I reached Parknasilla. I had arranged to meet Angela here for a snack parked up outside the Hotel. Angela then traveled on into Sneem while I took to the trail for the final 4Km walk over the side of a small hillside and back into the town square itself. The town of Sneem is very small but very colorful.
There is a beautiful square in the middle of the town and I spotted Dan Murphy’s pub on the far side of it. The sun was still shinning in the January sky so I had a nice pint of Guinness while Angela had a tea. After a brief walk about the town, we made our way back towards Kenmare where we were staying.
It was time for a nice relaxing bath the rest of the group where still making their way back from Dursey and asked us to check outside PF Mc Carthy’s bar for something to eat that evening. Its a great way to unwind after hill walking in Kerry.
We went to the bar and tried our best to keep seats, which we just about managed to do for the eight of us. It’s a lovely bar and the food is very good. We all caught up and chatted about our day’s adventures and Hill walking in Kerry,
We made plans for the following day’s hill walking and hiking in Kerry. I decided to give the Kerry Way a break and we would do a walk together on Beara Peninsula near Lauragh.
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Cup of Tea on Knockatee Hill – Beara Peninsula
Length: 9.5Km, Total Incline: 349m
The following day was another early start and there was a lot of frost overnight but it was another bright day with expecting temperatures to reach 12 degrees.
This would be our last walk together so we traveled in our cars to the start of the walk St Killian’s Church in Lauragh. Martha had taken the lead on this walk and was bringing on a loop walk over Knockatee and passing Helen’s Bar and the Derreen Gardens.
Its was up hill from the car park along a quite road before turning left onto the Hillside. There was no obvious trail and it was a matter of making your way upwards the best way you can while avoiding boulders. Marta pulled a blinder and got us all to the summit, the views were incredible and well worth the climb.
It was a 360 degrees panoramic views over the Beara Peninsula and surrounding coastline. Martha then guided us down safely although the ground was very wet and Angela was suffering due to her feet being wringing wet.
We came down by an ancient standing stone and cairn and eventually out onto another small road which brought us down to Helen’s Bar at Kilmackillogue Pier. We were delighted to see that it was open and the seafood open sandwiches are incredible. After getting warmth back into Angela’s feet, we traveled back to get our cars and say good bye before departing our separate ways.
Myself and Angela were now traveling onto Sneem where we would be staying for the next two nights as I got back to walking the Kerry way.
We booked into the Sneem hotel and had a meal here before organizing the next day’s hill walking in Kerry.
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Sneem (Derry West) to Waterville via Caherdaniel and the Solar System
Length: 22Km, Total Ascent: 565m (Additional 6Km from Sneem)
Walking from Sneem to Waterville. It was an early start as I wanted to make the most of the unusual good weather even though it was cold with a few showers, Friday was looking terrible. So, Angela dropped me out the road a little to Derry West where I would start today’s walk from.
As soon as I left the car there was a down pour and my new wet gear was put to the test which I’m happy to report was great. Good rain gear is vital if you plan on hiking in Kerry.
The trail went inland a little more than the past few days with a few inclines and declines as it made its way along a very good trail which was well marked. There are numerous stiles along this section. Dairine asked me to count them as I made way and I counted approx., 24 stiles as you made your way along from field to lane to field.
There are some incredible monuments as you make your way along this section but the most famous is the Staigue fort, which an ancient fortress built by early Celts who inhabited here many centuries ago. There are also many standing stones, burial tombs and rock art as you make your way.
You do get some wonderful coastal views along the way towards the Beara Peninsula and the surrounding small islands and inlets. When the sun shined across the sea low in the sky the views were stunning.
I reached a small graveyard called Coed and next to it was a most unusual sculpture of the Pluto with some statistics about the planet, then there was another and another as I made my way towards Caherdaniel. Eventually it dawned on me that it was a sculpture of our solar system which finished with the Sun when you arrived in Caherdaniel.
I had arranged to meet Angela here for a bite but when she arrived, we realised there was nowhere open and we even checked Derrynane House, the home of Daniel O Connell but even this was closed. So, Angie traveled onto Waterville while I walked towards there.
There is a nice looped walk near Caherdaniel called “Derrynane Mass Path”, which takes in some of the Kerry Way and Derrynane Bay.
Charlie Chaplin to Daniel O’Connell – Hill walking in Kerry.
Length: 33Km, Total Ascent: 939m (Shorten walk by walking as far as Coar 21.5KM)
Waterville in Co Kerry is where Charlie Chaplin would come to spend his summer holidays in Ireland. He loved spending his time fishing in this part of Ireland.
Well holy God, the weather and the rain was relentless today, another testing for my rain gear. After a hearty breakfast at the Sneem Hotel myself and Angela headed towards Waterville for the next section of our walk. With a quick pop in the shops for supplies and a coffee it was time for me to hit the trail again.
The trail starts with a nice quite road bring you out of Waterville, then a left turn onto another quite lane-way and eventually onto the side of the hills over looking the town. It’s a gradual incline from here towards the summits which you then walk along for the next 6km.
The wind today was very strong and, in some places, quite hard to stay on my feet. The ground was very wet from the past few days of hard rainfall, I was glad I was wearing leg gaiters. I imagine it can be like this quite often and waterproof boots are essential.
Continuing on this trail with its inclines and declines I was losing time due to the tracks condition. I stopped briefly in a sheltered spot to enjoy a cup of tea and take in the views. It can be quite easy to lose the trail here so care should be taken.
Eventually you will get to a stile that brings you to the left and of the side of the mountain. The sign can be a bit confusing I think as it looks as though it tells you that you walking back towards Waterville. Be careful you don’t follow the sign back towards Caherdaniel.
Once I reached the bottom of the hill I was out of the wind and the weather picked up a little which was nice for the bit of road I was walking on. After a few more Km on the trail, I came to Cillin Liath and crossed over the bridge here across the Inny River. My phone was about to die and I had a bit to go, it was also getting late and I knew that once I left the road ahead of me, I would be heading back onto anther hill and ridge for a while.
I decided to call and ask Angela to pick me up as it was a difficult enough walk to here and I didn’t want to get stuck on a hill in the dark.
Angela came and collected me and we made our way towards Cahirciveen, she had also booked a meal for us in Quinlan & Cookes restaurant. When we arrived, we had a nice chat with our landlady Christina at the Iveragh Heights BB before I had a quick shower and change of clothes.
Cahirciveen is the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell, the liberator and uncrowned King of Ireland. He managed to achieve Catholic emancipation delivered in Ireland by the British Government in 1829 and was then able to take his own seat in Parliament.
It was a Saturday night, which I had completely forgotten and there were a few people in the restaurant, the food was great. I noticed the Anchor Pub across the road was hopping with live music but I didn’t have the energy to get sucked in as well as the bars were to close at 8pm due to new Covid guidelines, just as well.
So, I’m back at the BB and need to have a look at the map and weather for some more hiking in Kerry tomorrow…. Hope my boots are dry.
Drive the Gap of Dunloe and Rest Day in the Black Valley
When we awoke the following morning it was another downpour and we would be staying in the Black Valley a good distance from Cahirciveen,so we decided to revisit our plans for the day.
After another chat with our landlady, we headed for Glenbeigh the place I was meant to be walking to and I was going to walk part of this trail to Glencar but the weather didn’t break. We stopped here and had a look about and then drove along sections of the Kerry Way to Glencar.
I had walked a good part of this trail before but just wanted to check out some accommodations in the area as well as take a look at the trail.
We called into the Rowan tree Guesthouse and had some tea here with the hosts. They gave us a lot of advice on the trail and how it had changed over the years. They offered to drop me onto the trail so I could over into the Black Valley but I could Angela didn’t fancy driving up the Gap of Dunloe on her own.
So instead, we made our way towards Kate Kearney’s cottage at the top of the Gap for a bite eat. This is a beautiful part of the world to have a bite and enjoy a walk through the gap but not today.
We drove very carefully through the gap as it can be quite a nerve wrenching drive on narrow roads with plenty of twist and turns. The views through the valley are stunning and easy to see why this is packed with tourists during the summer. The local Jarvey’s (horse drawn carriages) go up and down this valley all season with delighted tourists from all over the world. It’s a very deep Valley with Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntoohil to one side of you.
We eventually made it safely to our accommodation the Black Valley Lodge where Nana, who is from Thailand makes the most incredible Thai evening meal for you. We then chilled out for the rest of the day here until we were called for our dinner. Thai Spring rolls and chicken wings for starters, then chicken stir-fry and Thai green curry with a sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Her husband Trevor had joined us by then and we had a few drinks with him afterwards. He was full of information about the trail and walks that he loved to do in the local area.
He suggested that I borrow his bike and cycle up the Black Valley and walk over into Glencar on the Kerry way the following morning. Well after a few beers and a whiskey or two we headed for bed.
Cycle and walking adventure through the Black Valley.
Linear Trail: Length: 16.4Km, Total Ascent: 229m (You need to come back the way you went or continue onto Glencar.
The following morning, we were up early as Angela had to sign in for work and I had to prepare myself for my little adventure. Trevor got up and made sure the bike was all good to go. So, with all my walking rain gear on and back pack with water and a few snacks I headed of.
The trail most of the way up the valley can be taken by a small country road which was perfect for my cycle. Its about an 8Km cycle to the very top where eventually you have to dismount your bike and get on your feet.
There is a farm at the very end of the valley where I left the bike and was advised by Trevor not to walk through the farm but walk around it as the owner wasn’t kindly to trespassers.
It was a short enough climb up over the ridge where eventually you can see the whole of Glencar open out in front of you and even as far as Glenbeigh towards the sea. I waked on a bit until I could get a view of the whole trail in front of me and then had to turn back the way I’d come hoping the bike was still there.
When I reached the bike, I cycled back up the valley to the accommodation as I was aware that Angela had to get to Killarney in time to sign back into work after lunch.
On reaching the accommodation we traveled back through the Gap of Dunloe, which was still very tricky and I would not like to drive this in the height of summer.
We arrived into Killarney and booked into our accommodation here where we would be staying for the next two nights.
We went for a look about the town, had a drink in JM Reidy Pub, which is a wonderful old-style Irish pub (shop) in Killarney. Then we got a take away from Khao (another Asian food restaurant), headed back to our accommodation and crashed out after a long week of travel and wonderful adventures.
Until the next time Kerry …..
Walking and local information:
Map: For this section of Kerry and Beara , we recommend OSI Sheets 78, 83, 84.and 85 maps.
The Kerry Way Route is over 200km with choices to just walk sections of it.
Type: The walks along the way vary in difficulty and length, so just do your homework before embarking on your walk.
Food and Drink: There are many places along the way to get your snacks for walks and meals in the evenings..