There is simply no better way to see the countryside of the Kingdom of Kerry than by taking on a walk. With panoramic views of valleys, rugged coastlines, serene lakes and so much more, it will be an experience that will live long in the memory of any visitor. A walk like this is also exhilarating, good for exercise of the body and mind and, furthermore, it means you will encounter the real authentic Ireland as you meander among the villages of the area and of course meet the wonderfully welcoming people of Kerry.
For most visitors to Kerry, their destination or base tends to be the town of Killarney. A really nice activity even for novice walkers is an amble around the town. Quite the tourist hub, the historical Killarney village offers a beautiful and simple heritage trail which at just over 2km in length will be amenable to most.
Roughly one hour away from Killarney lies the breathtaking Dingle Peninsula. Renowned for its spectacular seascapes, the beauty of Dingle must be seen to be believed. Walking offers the best way to take in the full majesty of the landscape and fortunately the area offers plenty of options which cater to every level of hiker. For those seeking a pleasant stroll, we recommend the Siulóid na Cille, or the Little Church Walk. Stretching across 3.4km of mostly flat terrain, you should be able to complete this walk within an hour, making it ideal for beginners. And what an hour you will have! You will start your journey at the Blasket Centre, giving you a full vista of the now-deserted Blasket Islands; you will then follow the Dingle Way and don’t forget to take a moment to drink in the rugged beauty of Slea Head and An Fear Marbh (Dead Man Island). You will then pass the famous cliffside schoolhouse from David Lean’s cinematic epic Ryan’s Daughter. The trail finishes with the sixth century ruins of Cill Gobnait- the church built by the patron saint of the parish.
Located on Valentia Island, the Bray Head Loop offers what is in our opinion easily the best view of the Skelligs. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificence of these islands is truly out of this world - making them an ideal location for the recent Star Wars movies. This 4.5km hiking trail features a steady uphill climb so be sure to bring good hiking boots and plenty of water. The trek features several points of interest along the way such as the abandoned signal tower and some early Christian structures. After roughly an hour, you will be rewarded with an extraordinary panoramic view of the Iveragh Peninsula.
Situated just 5km south of Killarney, the Muckross Lake Loop is a fascinating and almost entirely flat walking circuit of 15km in length and with some fantastic scenery and wildlife to behold along the way. The route begins at the historic Muckross House and follows a quaint green path towards the small beaches and rocky covers of Muckross Lake before continuing along Muckross Peninsula and into Reenadinna Wood, where you can spot red squirrels and wonderfully placid red deer. You can then enjoy refreshments at Dinis Cottage and continue along the path to Meeting of the Waters, where Killarney’s Upper Lake joins up with the lower loughs. The walk comes to a conclusion along lakeside tracks and wooded paths that take you back to Muckross House. Allow 3-4 hours to complete the route, possibly more if you wish to take the time to fully immerse yourself in the scenery.
Covering a whopping 214km, the Kerry Way is the ultimate challenge for advanced hikers. The nine-day route is circular and includes a “greatest hits” of Kerry’s beauty spots including Killarney, Glenbeigh, Cahersiveen, Waterville, Caherdaniel, Sneem and Kenmare. Not for the faint of heart, this route will see you trek across a variety of tricky terrains from the plunging depths of the Black Valley to the heights of the Macgillycuddy Reeks and from the deciduous woodlands of Cahersiveen to the many cliffs of the Iveragh Peninsula. The route starts and ends in Killarney, which is ideal for anyone staying in the town during their visit to Kerry, and some sections can be done when based in Killarney, such as the 6km trek to Torc Waterfall and the longer stretch between the town and Galway’s Bridge.
As Ireland’s highest peak, the mountain of Carrauntoohil offers an enticing opportunity to seasoned hill-walkers. It takes approximately 6 hours to climb the 12kms to Carrauntoohil’s peak and, at 1,039 metres high, it is not a challenge that should be taken lightly. Situated in the scenic Macgillycuddy Reeks, this walk boasts a wonderful array of natural sights including lakes, forests, cliffs, ridges and peaks (27 to be exact). Carrauntoohil is an immensely popular choice with up to 25,000 people attempting the climb annually. The Devil’s Ladder is the most popular trail as it offers the shortest and most direct way to the summit. Due to the high amounts of visitors many parts of the notoriously steep Devil’s Ladder have eroded so it is vitally important to take caution when making your ascent. We would advise reading the mountain safety advice provided by the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team.