I’ve just returned from a ten day trip to southwest Ireland and one of the main intentions was to tour the Ring Of Kerry. To be honest I was a bit disappointedly with my first impression when driving from Killarney (Lake Hotel €115). It starts along a fairly uninteresting stretch of main road through Killorglin. It continues on with the mountains a distant view before the road really gets to become interesting somewhere before Cathersiveen. From there on it is picturesque and even spectacular in places until Sneem when it again becomes quiet nondescript to Kenmare. The final return over Molls Gap down to the lakes and in to Killarney is however spectacular. That was my first impression, however looking at the map I figured that there must be a more interesting route to travel, one that I’ve named the Figure Of Eight Of Kerry. We started at Kenmare, a nice traditional town where the buildings are painted in outstanding colours that in other situations would seem garish. It’s as though the town had been given the end of lines at a B&Q each wall is a different bold colour. Leaving Kenmare Bay Hotel (€89) we drove to Molls Gap but instead of continuing along the Ring road, turned left and then right towards the Black Valley, a narrow but traffic free road through the valley bottom. We were able to get to Lord Brandon’s Cottage at the foot of the Purple Mountains on the far side of the lough in the National Park. From there we drove up and over the Dunloe Gap avoiding the jaunting cars ferrying people from the tour buses over the gap to be ferried across the lake to Killarney. At the far end of the gap we emerged from the mountains at Kate Kearney’s Cottage where we turned left along a road hugging the north of Carrauntuohill, Ireland’s highest mountain. Turning left again the road cuts through some close-up mountain views and on through a wide valley floor then up through the Ballaghisheen Forest on to Waterville where we stayed at the Smugglers Inn (€50 + €75 for dinner). The next section went against the flow as it were heading north out of Waterville for a few kilometres to a left turn along the Skellig Ring with fantastic coastal views to the Skelligs on to Portmagee where we drove over the bridge to Valentia Island. We drove around the island and took the tiny vehicle ferry (€5) from Knightstown to Reenard Point then rejoined the “Ring Road” at Cathersaveen. Drove north to Glenbeigh where we turned right, off the main road, and followed the narrow road alongside a Lough Caragh to Blackstones Bridge. After that we crossed over our previous route at Glencar and headed up and over the pass between Mullaghanattin and Knocklomena mountains to Sneem where we overnighted at the Sneem Hotel (€119) with dinner at at Sacre Coeur Restaurant (€75). The final leg of this made-up Tours Of The Ring was along the north shore of the Bay Of Kenmare back to our start point and had a fabulous meat at An Leath Phingin Eile restaurant. If you are not restricted to having to “do the ring” on a bus tour I’d highly recommend touring on the interior roads for a true taste of the spectacular Kerry mountains.over 4 years ago
|5 places I want to go||242 places I've been|
1. Viaduc De Millau
2. Cirque De La Navacelles
3. Monte Argentario
Greece: Greek Islands: Aegean Islands: South Aegean: Cyclades
5. Santa Margherita
The drive along the Amalfi coast is spectacular and not to be missed, but I’d suggest that it’s not for the feint-hearted, nervous or unconfident driver. The road twists, turns, dives and climbs continually and is extremely narrow especially the stretch between Amalfi and Praiano. We drove this in the quiet season (March) I think it must be stressful, frustrating and dangerous in the summer.
I think that a much more pleasant and in some parts equally scenic road is a bit further down the coast from Santa Maria Di Castellabate to Marina Di Camerota in the Cilento region. Far, far less traffic.