UPDATE: Please note that The Kerry Way is now open again in Coomshana and Lacka | https://www.coillte.ie/our-forests/explore/events-and-updates/
The Iveragh Peninsula is the largest of Kerry's Atlantic peninsulas, extending 60 kilometres into the ocean from the mainland, and it is 32 kilometres across. The Iveragh contains the Killarney Lakes with their mountainous backgrounds, the most famously picturesque landscapes in Ireland since tourism began in the late eighteen hundreds. The main mountain group on the peninsula, called the Macgillicuddy Reeks, contains the two highest summits in Ireland, Carrauntoohil at 1038m and Caher at 1001m. The Kerry Way, at 230km the longest of the Irish Waymarked Trails, is a circular route that circumnavigates the peninsula, starting and finishing in Killarney, and also passing through fine Kerry towns such as Glenbeigh, Caherciveen, Waterville, Sneem and Kenmare. The landscape the route passes through is very varied, from the lakes of Killarney to high and remote mountain moorland: Carrauntoohil and Caher tower over the route west of Black Valley and the return leg passes along the startlingly contrasting semi-tropical, palm-treed south coast. Terrain consists mainly of quiet tarmac roads, open moorland, woodland and field paths and boreens. Some sections of the open moorland can be very isolated, and off-road sections can often be very wet and muddy. Aggregate ascent over the whole route is about 5400m, and there are some sustained and quite steep climbs. The highest point on the Way is 385m above sea-level, at Windy Gap between Glenmore and Caherdaniel There are some long stretches between overnight accommodation possibilities, and walkers should plan their days carefully to take these into consideration: public transport options are very good.
Maps and other information
South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd, Library Place, Killorglin, Co. Kerry
At Start - on street in Killarney or in car park (charge)
At End - beside old church at Galway's Bridge
77 kms or 36% of the Way follows local roads.
***Dogs not permitted on the Kerry Way***
PLEASE NOTE: The area between Derrycunnihy Church and Lord Brandon's Cottage suffers from flooding at different times throughout the year, especially after periods of heavy rainfall. It is advised to make local enquiries prior to walking this section.
PLEASE NOTE THE KERRY WAY WILL BE TEMPORARILY CLOSED AT LACKA FOREST (BETWEEN ASSAROE AND KENMARE) DUE TO TREE HARVESTING OPERATIONS FOR 2 TO 3 WEEKS FROM 1ST OCTOBER 2018. DIVERSIONS WILL BE IN PLACE SO PLEASE FOLLOW THE RE-ROUTE SIGNS.
The Kerry Way (by Rucksack Readers) - available from Rucksack Readers, Landrick Lodge, Dunblane, FK15 Ohy, UK +44 (0) 1786 824 696
At Start: Good express and local bus service.Check with Bus Eireann.
At End: None
Anthony Duffy from Dublin
One criticism is that there definitely should be purpose built and maintained huts or at least camp sites for walkers on the routes same as Wicklow Way, I had to venture off the trails to find good camping spots which is not ideal.
There are some amazing views but you're really at the mercy of the weather in this part of Kerry if you want to experience the true beauty of the scenery. Beware the midges and ticks! I got savaged by midges most evenings and got a tick bite. Lyme disease is a growing threat on this trail, especially if camping, and I shall have to wait to see if my bite becomes worse. The midges are ruthless and swarm on you in this part of Kerry.
Bring Gore Tex foot wear as many sections of the trails are flooded from heavy downpours, the grass, bog, moorland and heather will also soak your feet walking through it.
A well maintained network of trails but more investment needed for camping facilities. More awareness of the risk of Lymes and the importance of how to check yourself each day.
Lastly, don't be afraid to pull the plug on a trip if the weather turns. The weather can kill /injure/debilitate people through poor visibility, torrential wind & rain leading to hypothermia on the high passes. Make sensible decisions and always remember to check forecasts and listen to local advice before setting off.
Bring adequate food/snacks as some of the stretches are quite isolated with no services. Will return to finish it some day.
Aina from Austria
Mark from United Kingdom
There are treats everywhere en route and I just walked to Cahersiveen! which allowed me to branch off to Valentia Island and so finish the Irish Coast to Coast which was my own trail.
I didn't break day 2 at Glencar as some do and walked onto Glenbeigh instead, a decision I was pleased with - however I took the road from Cloghfune to Curraghbeg rather than adding distance and time by taking the Way to Lough Acoose.
I will, without doubt, return to complete the Kerry Way.
Gina from United States
Mark from Australia
Mark, Kerry and Karmen ( Aussies abroad)
Mary from Limerick
Highly recommended for scenery and variety of terrain. Something there for everyone.
Beware the newly redirected section at Templenoe. It avoids the busy main road by taking you north on a (not particularly scenic) minor road and back down again but it does add at least an hour to an already long section into Kenmare.
Put it on your "to do list" and enjoy :-)
Con from Limerick
Excellent mixture of contrasting scenery.
Woodland road fading into open moorland with great views Kenmare bay and Mountain ridges encircling Sneem.
Leisurely walk 45 minutes
Conor from Dublin
• Day 1: Killarney to Black Valley, Difficulty 5/10, 23km
• Day 2: Black Valley to Lough Acoose, Difficulty 7/10, 18km
• Day 3: Lough Acoose to Glenbeigh, Difficulty 3/10, 17km
• Day 4: Glenbeigh to Cahersiveen (Foilmore), Difficulty 6/10, 20km
• Day 5: Cahersiveen (Foilmore) to Waterville, Difficulty 7/10, 23 km
• Day 6: Waterville to Caherdaniel, Difficulty 2/10, 13km
• Day 7: Caherdaniel to Sneem, Difficulty 4/10, 18 km
• Day 8: Sneem to Kenmare, Difficulty 7/10, 34km
• Day 9: Kenmare to Killarney, Difficulty 5/10, 23km
o Trail Difficulty - 7/10
o Total Distance Hiked - 189kM
I’m an experienced hiker that has hiked mostly in Ireland. My trails include the Kerry Way, Wicklow Way, Slieve Bloom Way, Western Way, Duhallow Way, and the Tour de Mont Blanc.
The Kerry Way is FANTASTIC. There are some bad parts and a lot of great parts but overall there is a high level of care and thoughtfulness put into the trail. For us, it is the variety of this trail that is most impressive; you’re never walking on any surface or terrain for too long, be that road, boreen, bog track, or forest. I think this is probably the best hiking trail in Ireland (the northern half of the Wicklow Way is also excellent). Hiking trails in Ireland do not have a lot of supporting infrastructure but the Kerry Way is very well supported by Irish standards because it passes through so many lovely towns. The Kerry Way also generally stays off of main roads; when it does use road, it uses infrequent sections of back road. I would say there is less than 10km of main road on the entire trail.
The trail was very wet underfoot and we spent a lot of time with our feet sinking into bogs. I wore trail runners, and my wife wore waterproof boots; we both ended up with wet feet eventually. I’m not sure if even the best waterproof boots would keep your feet dry when the bog is that wet. Based on other reviews, I think the bog stays wet for most of the year. We brought hiking poles which was useful for the bog but also useful for a couple of technical sections.
The weather in this region always changes very quickly so you must prepare for the rain and wind. Luckily the showers are often short and pass by quickly. Some sections of the trail, particularly the Black Valley become impassable in the heavy rain; check ahead before walking. I highly recommend that you download the Met Eireann app for predicting the weather, it offers a brilliant rainfall forecast radar that shows the predicted rainfall for the coming days. As with most trails, your enjoyment will highly depend on the weather, if it’s cloudy you won’t get the best views and your enjoyment will be hindered. I’ve tried to ignore the weather conditions in this review.
Some of the highlights include:
• Walking in the Killarney National Park is stunning. Both days, from Killarney to Black Valley and Kenmare to Killarney, were some of our favourite walking.
• Walking in the Black Valley and the Bridia Valley was amazing. There are some lovely climbs and views, however you are very exposed to rain and wind.
• Blackstone’s bridge is very pleasant and just off the trail. There’s a lovely picnic bench to sit at and eat your lunch
• Windy Gap outside of Glenbeigh has lovely views back over the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and lovely views across to the Dingle peninsula
• There is a small wood outside of Glenbeigh that is very pleasant
• The Mountain Stage between Glenbeigh and Cahersiveen is amazing
• Cahersiveen to Waterville is a long day with two big ridge walks. Stunning but very exposed and the ground is very boggy. It’s a big and tough day. Worth it if you are able
• Waterville to Caherdaniel had some lovely grass roads and forest sections. Very short and easy day.
• Sneem to Templenoe was one of the best days of hiking on the entire trail. Drastically different to the mountainous regions, this is a low-lying section with huge off-road sections varying from grassy tracks/highways, boreens, forest trails, and seaside walks. Instead of walking all the way to Kenmare, we recommend finishing at Templenoe and getting a taxi to Kenmare
• The section from Blackwater Bridge to Templenoe is one of the best sections of hiking on the entire trail
Lowlights, which are quite few:
• There is a long road section between Glenbeigh and the Mountain Stage. About 5-7km. It is pretty boring.
• The road into Cahersiveen is best avoided, I recommend getting a taxi from Foilmore church into Cahersiveen. There is a trail spur that you can walk. I didn’t walk it.
• The Sneem to Kenmare day is 34km. Some guidebooks measure it as 25-30km. From our experience, the day is 34km. The final 7km (Templenoe to Kenmare) is bad walking, after such a lovely walk from Sneem to Templenoe you are directed to walk over wet boggy hill tops before entering Kenmare. The last thing I wanted after walking 30km was to walk over another boggy hilltop. I recommend getting a taxi from Templenoe into Kenmare and skipping this section.
We stayed in B&Bs the entire way which were lovely. Wild camping is possible but you must ask permission of the land owner first. Camping is not allowed in Killarney National Park. From what I saw, most camping options were on bog and it can be difficult to find a dry spot.
• Day 1: Cores Cascade, Lord Brandon’s Cottage
• Day 3: Blackstone’s Bridge, Bench after the Windy Gap
• Day 4: Bench near the start of the Mountain Stage after the long road section
• Day 6: Waterfall in the woods near Caherdaniel
• Day 8: Benches along the sea after Blackwater Bridge