Ireland's highest mountains rise along the rugged Atlantic coast in County Kerry. The lonely landscapes are characterized by green hills and barren mountains, steep coasts and gentle beaches. The coastline consists of bays, peninsulas and islands, while on the Iveragh Peninsula, Kerry's largest peninsula, you will not only find Ireland's highest peaks, but also one of Europe's most beautiful long-distance hiking trails: the Kerry Way.
The Kerry Way takes you around the Iveragh Peninsula in nine daily stages. The hike begins in the rugged nature of Killarney National Park, from where you hike over sheep pastures, through moors and over mountain passes. It then leads you along narrow roads, country lanes and unspoiled mountain trails. On your nine-day hike, you'll have the chance to discover the scenic diversity of the entire peninsula, as well as that famous Irish hospitality in the small villages and towns that serve as stage destinations. When you arrive back in Killarney satisfied after your hike, you'll have covered over 140 miles (220 kilometers) and climbed around 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) in altitude.
The Kerry Way is well signposted and well developed. The hike does not require any special knowledge and is therefore also suitable for beginners with good physical fitness. Nevertheless, rustic paths await you, which can be muddy and humid, especially after the frequent rains. Thanks to the mild climate, you can plan the long distance hike all year round, although it is particularly beautiful in spring and autumn when there are fewer tourists in Ireland.
In addition to the Kerry Way, we have planned in one of the most challenging hikes in Ireland. From Lough Acoose, follow the Coomloughra Horseshoe trail to the top of Carrantouhill, Ireland's highest mountain. This mountain hike is not part of the official Kerry Way, however, and only recommended for experienced and enduring mountain hikers. If this section proves too intense for you, then just enjoy the view of Carrantouhill from below.
Due to the changeable weather, you'll always need good equipment whenever you go. Rainwear, additional rain cover for your backpack (and maybe a drybag or two) and ankle-high, non-slip hiking boots are obligatory at any time of the year. You should also book all accommodation in advance, as there is very little choice in some villages. In fact, even in the low season many of the rooms can be fully booked.
Ryanair flies directly from many large European cities to Kerry regional airport. From there you can easily take the bus to Killarney. Alternatively, you can fly to Dublin and travel from there by train to the starting point of the hike.
The first leg of the Kerry Way takes you through the rugged nature of Killarney National Park. You'll hike along the highest mountains in Ireland, across vast moorland meadows and through enchanted jungles.Classically, the Kerry Way starts right at the Tourist Office in Killarney. The path leads from there for a few kilometers along the highway to the National Park. Therefore, it is worthwhile to skip the first few kilometers by shuttle bus. A perfect starting point for your first leg is the bus stop at the hiking car park Torc Waterfall. The shuttle bus leaves directly at the Tourist Office.Passing the toilet house, you will reach the impressive waterfall. Here you will meet some tourists, but already on the right at the waterfall beginning climb it is getting lonelier. On wide stone steps, you quickly gain height. At a fork turn right onto a stone bridge over the Torc River. On the other bank you follow the comfortable hiking trail to the left and wander through a haunted forest. The path soon rises and the vegetation becomes noticeably meager.After a final climb, the broad hiking trail leads you to an open, wide meadow landscape. Your gaze wanders over the surrounding mountains and into the valley in front of you. Let's go, sometimes you walk comfortably on the way further into the national park into it. In the valley, it goes on narrow bridges through a pristine moorland. The path becomes rockier and rises quickly. Along a grove of knotty oaks the path leads you to a bare plateau. Surrounded by rocky mountains, you hike over mountain trails and wooden footbridges to the pass. At almost 280 meters you reach the highest point of the stage here.An old shepherd's path lined with stone walls leads you down a quiet forest. At the edge of the forest you will find a well-developed hiking trail. Left it goes to Kenmare, right towards the destination Black Valley. Almost now, the path meanders through an open valley. You cross the National Park Road and descend on rustic forest trails to Upper Lake. On the wet meadows on the shores of the lake, it continues to the excursion cafe Lord Brandon's Cottage. After a tea or coffee on the terrace, follow the narrow street over a bridge. The little-used road leads you finally to today's stage destination, the village Black Valley.The shuttle bus timetable can be found at killarneyshuttlebus.com
On the second stage, you will hike through three of the most remote valleys of Ireland. At the foot of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks, the tour takes you from valley to valley. In doing so, you will cross two promising pass heights.You start your hike in Black Valley. Follow the signposted Kerry Way over a narrow street. This turns left at a fork, but for you it goes straight ahead. With a fantastic view of the Black Valley you walk on an easy track. At the side of the road, you'll see sheep's eyes startled again and again. Apart from the soft bleating of the woolly lambs, the chirping of birds and the distant sound of a waterfall, there is a wonderful rest here. You cross several sheep gates and climb on livestock via fences. The path becomes more and more a simple dirt road. After a rustic forest, the Kerry Way leads you slowly up towards the head of the valley.Over sheep pastures begins your ascent to the first pass. Even in perfect weather, the rocky path can be boggy in places. In rainy weather you should pay close attention to each of your steps. The path winds uphill along streams. At the top of the pass a fantastic view awaits you. Towards the east, the rugged Black Valley is behind you, to the west, the sweeter Bridia Valley awaits.About stones and meadows, it goes down now. Once in the valley, you continue on a comfortable track. Right at the junction for the next pass you will find the friendly Stepping Stone B & B. The adjoining garden café offers soups, sandwiches and homemade ice cream. After a rest, go over sheep pastures steeply up towards the pass. Once at the top, the high peaks of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks are close enough to touch. Below you in the valley is Lake Lough Acoose, your destination for the day. A narrow and steep mountain path leads you down into the valley. There you walk on a simple track past a farm. Shortly afterwards, you will find yourself on a barely traveled road that leads you to the final destination on the north shore of Lough Acoose.
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The third leg takes you from the rugged mountainous landscape at the foot of Ireland's highest mountains to pastures and through woods to Dingle Bay. The path runs flat over long distances, but shortly before the end of the day, you will be able to cross the pass through the Windy Gap.After a restful night, you start your third stage of the day. On the little busy country road you walk westwards from the lake shore. Looking back, you'll see the majestic peaks of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks rising directly above Lough Acoose. It's easy to walk on the paved road and you can quickly travel the first four kilometers. Here you will meet the Climber's Inn. The Inn is also a B & B, pub, post office and grocery store.With filled up supplies it goes on. Opposite the Climber's Inn, Kerry Way leads off the road on a dirt road. Between cow and sheep pastures it goes through hilly landscape. After a while, you will find yourself on a narrow street. You follow the road to the right and cross the River Caragh. On the other side, the Kerry Way branches sharply right onto a narrow trail. First, you walk along the riverbank and then across a wide moor landscape.The trail widens and finally becomes a comfortable forest path. The path is completely enclosed by the green of the forest and you wander through a tunnel of branches and leaves. At a fork in the road, follow the signposted Kerry Way to the left into Lickeen Forest. The path climbs between mossy trunks. At the highest point of the forest, the trees provide a magnificent view of Lough Caragh Lake. Through the forest it goes down again.The forest road meets a narrow road. You follow the road for a while until the Kerry Way branches off to the left. On the extended ridge in front of you, you can already clearly make out the pass Windy Gap. At a moderate gradient, you will hike around 200 meters upwards. At the top of the pass you have a great view of Dingle Bay and the opposite Dingle Peninsula. Toward the south you can take a last look at the massif of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks. After a break, it goes steadily downhill to the stage destination Glenbeigh.
On the fourth leg, you will enjoy breathtaking views of Dingle Bay and the hills and valleys of the western Iveragh Peninsula. The Kerry Way runs here on lonely roads and medieval trade routes.You begin your hike in the center of Glenbeigh. You follow the highway N70 past the gas station. The gas station also has a large supermarket where you can stock up on supplies. Shortly thereafter, the highway makes a left turn. Follow the Kerry Way signage and walk straight on a narrow road towards Rossbeigh. At a small hiking car park the Kerry Way branches off to the left into the forest.The path climbs slowly and you continue on a comfortable forest path. The forest clears and you find yourself on a narrow paved road. Along a farm and some houses along the road you follow the road to the west. In front of you is already the big Drung Hill over the Dingle Bay. On its sea-facing slope you can clearly see the trail. On a bridge you cross the N70 and shortly thereafter a rocky trail branches off the road.You follow the so-called Butterroad through several cattle gates. Steadily it goes up and the vegetation becomes barren. Already on the ascent you can enjoy a fantastic view of Dingle Bay below. The path winds up at Drung Hill and over a broad mountain saddle into a forest. On a forest track you cross the forest. After rainfall, the path here is very muddy and littered with deep puddles.After crossing a lonely road, the plain dirt road climbs a bit. At the highest point you have a great view over the wide valley down to the Atlantic Ocean. After a while, the dirt road meets a paved road. It is easy and fast between sheep and cattle pastures in the direction of Cahersiveen.From the narrow street, Kerry Way branches off to the left towards Cahersiveen and Waterville. In a loop, the Kerry Way leads across sheep pastures and along fields to the stage destination Cahersiveen.If the entire route is too long for you, you should continue straight at this junction. After a short distance you will reach the highway N70. Here you will find the cozy Strand's End B & B. If you stay overnight, you will save around seven kilometers. The next stage is shortened by a little.
The fifth stage of the Kerry Way runs through the hilly interior of the Iveragh Peninsula. The path follows the natural ridges and you can enjoy beautiful views of the mountains and the Atlantic at all times.At the beginning of the stage, follow the section known from the previous day to the intersection in the direction of Waterville. From there, hike up the gently rising path to Coomduff Hill. From the broad ridge of hills you have a nice view over the wide landscape. The path runs over pastures and you have to climb over cattle tracks over fences and walls again and again.Coomduff Hill is part of a long ridge that curves down to the Atlantic coast. With great foresight you follow the Kerry Way over the Kammweg. From the highest point of the ridge, Knockavohaun, the Kerry Way leads you down to the Inny River valley. After crossing the river, hike for a short while on the quiet country lane.Shortly thereafter, the Kerry Way branches off the road. Now it goes up to the second ridge of this stage. The narrow trail increases moderately, especially since this mountain range with about 200 meters altitude fails lower. Up on the ridge you not only have a nice view of Ballinskelligs Bay, but also of the Lough Currane below.From the highest point of the ridge, the Kerry Way meanders slowly towards Waterville, today's destination.
The sixth stage takes you from the idyllic coastal town of Waterville over a mountain pass to the sunny south coast of the Iveragh Peninsula. With beautiful views, it goes along the rocky coast to Caherdaniel.You start your day at the Community Center in Waterville. In two supermarkets you can refresh your supplies here, then it starts. At the beach boulevard you walk south. Here you will meet the well-known country road N70. You follow her a bit and after a short while the Kerry Way branches off to the right. With fantastic views over the wide Ballinskelligs Bay you continue hiking. Slowly the path climbs and after a while you follow the signs over narrow trails.From the pastures you will reach sheep pasture and sheep pasture. The tranquility of the place is interrupted only by the bleating of the sheep and the rolling of the waves. The path continues to rise and soon you will see the famous Skellig Islands far to the west in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The dirt road can be quite muddy after rain, but in many places stepping stones provide a remedy.After a steep climb you cross the N70. On the other side of the road you have almost reached the pass and thus the highest point of the stage. Once at the top you will enjoy a magnificent view over the Kenmare Bay and the mountains of the Beara Peninsula. About meadows and pastures, it goes back down towards the sea. The south coast is quite different from the north coast of the Iveragh Peninsula. Small rocky islands lie in the sea, tiny bays are lined up and flowers and even palm trees thrive everywhere.You cross the road again and follow the signposted path further downhill. On a dirt road follows a narrow, barely traveled road, which leads down in serpentines to the Mass Path. The Mass Path then runs along narrow paths directly along the rocky coast.At the end of the trail, the picturesque Darrynane Beach awaits you. After a long break, pass the old manor house Darrynane House and follow the road to the stage destination Caherdaniel.
The seventh stage is one of the simplest stages of Kerry Way. The route is less than 20 kilometers and after two moderate passes, it goes evenly down to the idyllic town of Sneem. The trail follows the course of the historic Butter Road for long stretches.You start your hike in the center of the tiny village of Caherdaniel. Just off the N70 the signpost leads you to the old trading route Olde Butter Road. The path climbs gently and soon you wander through a wonderfully secluded hilly landscape. Deep below you can see the water in Kenmare Bay and behind it the mountains of the Beara Peninsula. You walk slowly on meadows, stepping stones and old paths.The Kerry Way follows the natural course of the hills, sometimes up and down. Besides the obligatory sheep, some cattle live on the long slopes of the hills. In several places it can happen that the large ruminants are in the middle of the way or even lie. Then behave calmly and slowly pass the cattle. If small calves are around, take a little detour and watch the funny animals with a little distance.After a while, you will find yourself on a narrow street. You follow the road to a fork. Here, the road turns to the left, the Kerry Way, however, runs straight on a dirt road. First on the wide dirt road and then on a narrow trail, it goes up to the first pass. Shortly before the highest point the path widens. On the dirt road you walk over the hill and down into a wide valley.From the valley it goes straight back up to the second pass crossing. Here, the Butter Road runs through a natural hollow road. Once at the top, you look over a wide plateau and recognize already some old acquaintances: Towards the east, the bare mountain peaks of the Killarney National Park tower into the sky. Leisurely, it goes downhill.The last few kilometers you wanderst with beautiful views of the mountains on a comfortable dirt road. At the end of today's stage you will reach the picturesque town of Sneem.
The full leg from Sneem to Kenmare is over 34 kilometers long and quite challenging - especially if you're already in the bone for the past seven days. It is a nice alternative to cross part of the route by bus or taxi. Ideal entry is then the tiny village Templenoe. If you start here, you can also leave the uncomfortable sections on the narrow and busy country road. In front of you there are instead beautiful field and forest trails and beautiful views of the Bay of Kenmare.You start your hike on South Square in Sneem. Follow the signs for wide meadows and sheep pastures. Almost now you wander far away from the highway through a picturesque hilly landscape. The Kerry Way leads you below the mountainsides into a dense forest. Shortly afterwards you cross the busy N70. The trail then follows a little distance to the highway. You wander here on a narrow road, which after a few kilometers again crosses the N70.The trail leads after a while past a small, long stretched lake. Soon you will arrive at the river Blackwater. The river has formed a narrow valley and can only be crossed on the old Blackwater Bridge. The N70 also runs over the bridge, so pay close attention to traffic.After crossing the bridge, the Kerry Way leads you through dense forest down to the shores of Kenmare Bay. If you have a nice view, you will continue hiking and reach the fabulous Dromore Castle a little later. After you have crossed the castle park, you continue to Templenoe. The Kerry Way runs here for a short distance on the N70 and then meanders up the mountain slopes.Here you walk on a narrow street along individual residential buildings and enjoy the view of the below you Kenmare Bay. The road runs in a loop down the country road, but before that Kerry Way branches off on a narrow forest road.On the dirt road you walk up through a dense forest. The path leads you out of the forest on a wide mountain meadow. With each step, the view of Kenmare Bay is more beautiful. From a hilltop you can enjoy the magnificent view. Next you follow the path through a coniferous forest leisurely downhill. After you have crossed an open wet meadow, it goes over a cattle pasture.Now the last and highest elevation of the stage is on. On a narrow trail, you will quickly gain height. At the highest point you have a fantastic view over the Bay of Kenmare and the mountains of the Beara peninsula. You hike downhill over the rocky mountain slope. In the valley before you can soon see Kenmare. The trail ends in a little-used road. This leads to the N70 and finally to the milestone Kenmare.
The final leg of the Kerry Way takes you from the lovely Kenmare Bay landscape to a hilltop and mountain pass to the rugged mountain valleys of Killarney National Park. At the end of the stage you will find the famous viewpoint Ladies' View. From here you can take the shuttle bus back to Killarney.From the center in Kenmare follow the signs out of town. First along a walkway along the main road, but then the Kerry Way leads you on a narrow paved road. The rises pretty quickly. You gain in height and wander past individual houses. At the highest point of the ascent you leave houses and trees behind you. On a gravel road, it continues with beautiful views of the rocky mountains.The path drops gently and leads you through a wide, open high valley. On the opposite side you can already clearly see the pass below the summit. The path becomes narrower and the surrounding landscape a little rougher with each step. Only a few sheep graze among the rocks. At the top of the pass you will not only find a wonderful panorama, but also a break bench.After a well-earned rest, it goes steadily down towards the National Park. On a wide gravel road you wander through the barren, rock-strewn highlands. The trail winds through the wild and romantic valley. Soon you will reach a well-known intersection. This is where the trails from Killarney, Kenmare and the Black Valley meet. Follow the trail towards Black Valley.At an abandoned chapel, you will meet the national park road N71. You follow the road for about one and a half kilometers and then reach the Café High Altitude. The café is located directly at the viewpoint Ladies' View, where the shuttle bus stops. Here you can enjoy a last great view of the lakes of Killarney. Then you will happily take the shuttle bus back to the center of Killarney.The shuttle bus departs every day at 14 o'clock at Ladies' View. The route from Kenmare to the bus stop is good to make up to this time, if you start at the latest by 9 clock with the hike. Alternatively, you can continue towards Killarney. From Muckross House, the manor house in the National Park, the shuttle bus departs daily at 17:00. The entire hike from Kenmare to Muckross House is about 20 kilometers long.
The Comloughra Horseshoe Trail is pure mountain adventure and the most exciting mountain hike in Ireland. In a large loop he leads up to Carrantuohill, the highest mountain in Ireland. You will hike over three of the four highest mountains in Ireland and enjoy a unique view of the Iveragh Peninsula.The tour to the summit is trackless on barren mountain meadows, scree-strewn slopes and narrow ridges. Thus, the mountain tour is only suitable for experienced and very persevering hikers. In any case, you need stable and non-slip hiking boots, plenty of provisions and weatherproof clothing. You should also have excellent condition, surefootedness and good orientation. In no case should you undertake the hike in rain, fog or strong wind, because due to the exposed position of the ridge, it can be dangerous at the top otherwise.Your walk starts in the small village on the north shore of Lough Acoose. From there you hike to the north on the edge of the quiet country road until you reach a small hiking car park. Here begins the climb. A very steep paved road leads up the mountain slope to the start of the hike.The trail flattens off a bit and you have to climb over a gate to get to the start of the tour. After a few meters you will reach the small mountain lake Lough Eighter. In a perfect semicircle, the Macgillycuddy's Reeks rise steeply in front of you.The easier climb leads counterclockwise over the summit of the Caher to the Carrantuohill. This route has another advantage: the summit ridge between the Carrauntuohill and the northern side summit Beenkeragh is very narrow and rocky. If fog is rising or you are too adventurous on the way from Carrantuohill to Beenkeragh, you can hike back to the valley along the familiar path.At the beginning of your ascent you will cross a damp moor area. Then a trail leads you up the slope of the Caher. The path climbs steeply towards the summit. First you walk over wet mountain meadows, then over barren debris slopes. A rough trail can be seen, but in case of bad visibility you should follow the path on your mobile phone or pause the hike.The path leads you first up to the western summit of the Caher and then over a ridge to the main summit. From up here you already have a dramatic view over the basin, the surrounding peaks and the surrounding landscape. Continue on another ridge path to Carrantuohill. Satisfied, you stand at the summit cross and enjoy the unique feeling of being at the highest point of Ireland.After a break at the summit you continue your hike. In good visibility and dry weather experienced mountain hikers will love the rocky section to the neighboring peak Beenkeragh. If the weather changes spontaneously or if you do not feel safe on the ridge path, then turn around here in any case again on the ascent route down to the valleyFrom there, the trail is less dramatic and leads steadily downhill to the Lough Eighter. Once there, follow the steep asphalt road back to the starting point of your hike.