Skellig Michael (Irish: Sceilig Mhichíl), or Great Skellig (Irish: Sceilig Mhór), is the larger of the two Skellig Islands, 11.6 kilometres (7.2 mi) west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. A Christian monastery was founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century and remained continuously occupied until it was abandoned in the late 12th century.
If you’ve seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and now know the story behind this amazing site, you’ll surely want to visit! Access to the Skelligs is by ferry from the town of Portmagee. A number of boat tours make the trip from May to September (weather permitting); see Skellig Michael Cruises, Skellig Boat Trips, Casey’s, Owen Walsh, Sea Quest, Skellig Trips and Skellig Tours (which departs from Derrynane Harbour). You’ll find contact details for many of the individual boatmen here. The trip takes approximately 45 minutes, but be sure to book well in advance. The surrounding area on the mainland is also well worth a visit – the Skellig Ring (part of the greater Ring of Kerry route) runs along the coast and offers fabulous views of the crashing Atlantic and the Skellig Islands, as does Bray Head, one of Wild Atlantic Way’s Signature Points.
The Kerry Way
DISTANCE: 200+ KM | ASCENT: 4,000+ M | TIME: 8+ DAYS
The Kerry Way covers a wide variety of terrain, from the firm footing of tarmac roads to more rugged sections out on wild mountainous countryside. The trail follows small roads commonly known to the Irish as ‘boreens’, long-abandoned coach roads and mass paths that are now overgrown with grass but nonetheless quite firm underfoot. There are also sections that cross through forestry, national parks and farmland which can get quite boggy in places.
Anyone setting out to walk a long distance trail such as The Kerry Way is embarking on a serious test of physical endurance. Our Walking Advicecontains some useful safety tips and pointers and we strongly recommend that everyone considering embarking on this walk should spend a few moments to read them and incorporate them in their pre-hike planning.
DISTANCE: 8 KM | ASCENT: 535 M | TIME: 2+ HOURS
Torc Mountain is an extremely popular and scenic moderate 2-2.5 hour (7.5 km) walking route to the summit of Torc Mountain (535m) with spectacular 360 degree views of Killarney town and lakes, Muckross House, the Killarney National Park and the McGillicuddy’s Reeks, County Kerry in the south west of Ireland. This walk starts from the upper Torc Mountain car park which is also the starting point for the Old Kenmare Road Walk, a stage of The Kerry Way, Mangerton Mountain and other smaller loop walks in the area. From Killarney, continue approx 5miles / 8km before turning left on the road signed for the ‘Old Kenmare Road’ just before you get to the Torc Waterfall car park itself (see the map). The famous Torc Waterfall is at the base of Torc Mountain off the main Ring of Kerry Road about 5 miles (8.0 km) from Killarney.
Even though the summit is 525m, this walk is very popular as it is accessible to almost anyone due to the clear paths and wooden sleepers on the mountain. I brought my son when he was age 2 to the summit of Torc using a backpack but he decided to walk the majority of the way on the wooden sleepers. If you try this take care as the sleepers can be over a foot off ground level at some points and can be a little slippery when wet.
DISTANCE: 10 KM | ASCENT: 839 M | TIME: 4+ HOURS
Mangerton Mountain is a moderate 4 to 5 hour hour (10 km) walking route to the summit of Mangerton (839m) taking in the wonderful Devils Punchbowl lake near the summit and passing the Tooreencormick Battle Field Site near Killarney, County Kerry in the south west of Ireland. It is a relatively gentle climb to the summit and should be no problem to most of reasonable fitness and is one of the most accessible mountains over 800m in Ireland. The walk has spectacular views of the Devil’s Punchbowl, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Horses Glen, Killarney National Park and on a good day south west to Kenmare Bay. Mangerton Mountain may only be in the top 30 highest mountain in Ireland but the area of the mountains southern slopes form a huge plateau, one of the most extensive areas of mountain wilderness in Ireland stretching 13km from Killarney to Kenmare.
The Old Kenmare Road
DISTANCE: 24KM | ASCENT: 320 M | TIME: 5+ HOURS
Kenmare to Killarney or vice versa is known as the Old Kenmare Road. This is a moderate to strenuous 5 to 8 hour (24 km) walking route through amazing scenery and the Killarney National Park and has a number of steep and steady climbs and descents. A shorter 9km (3 hour) section of this stage from Torc Waterfall to Galways Bridge is also popular.
It is probably one of the most popular stages of the Kerry Way. Starting from Kenmare is follows a well worn path between Peakeen and Knockanaguish Mountains into the Windy Gap with superb views of the MacGillicuddy Reeks Mountains. From there it passes Mangerton Mountain, Torc Mountain and Waterfall and finally Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farm.
Killarney National Park Loop
DISTANCE: 28 KM | ASCENT: 206 M | TIME: 3 HOURS
This easy cycle goes through the best of Killarney National Park – much of it is on narrow but well-paved traffic-free paths. You will share it with walkers and horses, so it might be a little slow, but it is so beautiful around that you are unlikely to mind.
This route takes you past most of the great locations and sights of the national park, such as Ross Castle, Dinis Cotttage and Muckross House. Torc Waterfall is also only a small detour of the main loop.
The Gap of Dunloe
DISTANCE: 22 KM | ASCENT: 550+ M | TIME: 4+ HOURS
The Gap of Dunloe, starts at at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, heading up the gap to the Head of the Gap, on to Lord Brandon’s Cottage, hop on a Boat with Bike travel 22 KM’s to Ross Castle. or alternately go to Moll’s Gap, Ladies View and Muckross House by road.
The MacGillycuddy Reeks of Kerry
The MacGillycuddy Reeks of Kerry are Ireland’s highest mountains and include the only three peaks in Ireland over 1000 metres, Corrán Tuathail at a lofty 1039 metres, Binn Chaorach at 1010mtrs and Caher standing at 1001 metres.
We are the leading provider of guided ascents of Carrauntoohil (translated from the Gaelic “Corrán Tuathail” meaning: “Inverted Sickle” or “Tuathails Serated Sickle”) and of the other numerous routes in the magnificent MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.
On the day of your climb we will provide you with a qualified & highly experienced mountain guide who will share a wealth of information on the history, geology, flora and fauna, along with lots of entertaining & interesting tales from these mountains, gained through many years spent climbing their slopes along with all important local knowledge. You will be given assistance, encouragement and guidance and will never have to worry about navigation or route finding. Any ascent of Ireland’s highest mountain is a tough challenge requiring a good level of fitness enabling you to hike in mountainous terrain for 6 hours+.
For more details check out KerryClimbing.ie.
Gap Of Dunloe Traditional Boat Tours
For 250 years the most famous visitor excursion in Ireland… the O’Donoghue brothers have a long tradition of boating experience passed down through generations on the Lakes of Killarney.
A mini adventure for young and old through Ireland’s Lake District. You can travel by boat through the majestic Lakes of Killarney and the National Park, during which you can enjoy the huge natural oak woodlands of the Upper Lake and the Old Weir Bridge, where the boat may be able to ‘Shoot the rapids’. This leads you to the meeting of the waters, where the three lakes join.
Then under the Toothache Bridge into the Middle Lake, where you can see Torc mountain and the Colleen Bawn Rock. You may be lucky on the day to catch a glimpse of the White Tailed Eagles soaring over the mountains.
Under the Brickeen Bridge and into the Lower Lake where you can see Innisfallen Island, and in the distance Ross Castle – an ancient seat of the O’Donoghue Clan, where the tour finishes.
The Magical Ring of Kerry Coach Tour
An essential part of any visit to Ireland, this coach tour circles the magnificent MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range (Irish: Na Cruacha Dubha, meaning “the black stacks”). Extending to just over 19 km (12 miles), it includes the highest peaks in Ireland and the only peaks on the island that are over 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). The highest of these is Corrán Tuathail or Carrauntoohil (1,038 m), followed by Binn Chaorach (1,010 m) and Cathair na Féinne (1,001 m). The range also includes many other peaks of over 2,000 feet. The mountains are comprised of glacial-carved sandstone and are on the Iveragh Peninsula near the Lakes of Killarney. here is an unspoilt nature to Ireland’s most beautiful region and the Ring of Kerry provides many unforgettable scenes to commit to memory as it passes through the many picturesque villages such as Glenbeigh, Waterville and Sneem, and returns via Ladies View, the famous Lakes of Killarney and through the Oakwoods of Killarney’s magnificent National Park.
For more details or to book, check out Derostours.com.
Dingle Peninsula & Slea Head
The Dingle Peninsula has the most rugged coastline in Ireland and is scattered with ancient huts and historic buildings such as the Kilmalkeadar Church which is a stop on the tour.
A great deal of traditional Irish heritage is maintained in this Irish-speaking (Gaelic) region (a Gaeltacht), including traditional music art and crafts.
Considered by many to have some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery, the peninsula also supports both a rare and unique assortment of flora and fauna. Slea Head is the most westerly point in Europe and standing there, looking towards America, instils a feeling of excitement and empathy with the millions of emigrants who took this route.
There are splendid views around Slea Head, especially of the Blasket Islands and the scattered rocks which are all part of an exploded volcanic area.
For more details, or to book, visit Derostours.com.
Wild Card Adventure Tours
An Adventure of a Lifetime
Their mobile Water Sports School takes you to some of the most captivating coastal locations along the Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Route, offering Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Surfing and Kitesurfing Packages for all levels.
For those that want a complete outdoors experience, they also offer bespoke Hiking and Stand Up Paddle Boarding Packages that bring you on a journey of discovery through some of Kerry’s most famous mountains, lakes and hidden waterfalls to ensure you experience the unique beauty of the Kingdom in one unforgettable experience.
For more details or to book, check out www.killarneyh2osports.com.
Kayaking in Dingle
Enjoy a half-day's sea kayaking in Dingle Harbour, see Fungi the Dolphin at the mouth of the harbour and explore some of the many sea caves. This trip is available to all - beginners to advanced paddlers. Although not physically demanding, it provides a great introduction to sea kayaking, covering basic kayaking skills.
For more details, or to book, visit www.irishadventures.net.