Kerry Way: Everything About Ireland's Finest Walk

By Natascha Langelaan

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Kerry Way: Everything About Ireland's Finest Walk
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The Kerry Way, in Irish Slí Uíbh Ráthaigh, is the most famous and popular long distance hiking trail in Ireland. The Kerry Way, which can be found 'between' the Dingle Way and the Beara Way, is a circular walking route of approximately 214 kilometers across the Iveragh Peninsula. This route starts and ends in Killarney. This is the walking alternative to the famous Ring of Kerry driving route and passes through some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery. In this blog post, we have included all you need to know to walk the Kerry Way, including the route, the map, distance, baggage transfer services, accommodations, and more!

Crossing mountains and valleys, passing lakes, old forests, and wild bogs, the route comes with a lot of variety. From the cliffs and sandy beaches, you can enjoy beautiful views over the many rocky islands. You come across numerous archaeological finds, giving the route a strong historical character. The route is divided into 9 stages and starts and ends in Killarney. Whether you are an experienced hiker or just starting out, the Kerry Way is for everyone. There are plenty of challenges in this long-distance walk for everyone! Are you ready for this adventure? Let’s go!

The Kerry Way: History and Overview

With over 200 kilometers, the Kerry Way is Ireland's longest signposted hiking trail and also one of the most popular ones. The route was first proposed and developed by members of the Laune Mountaineering Club already in 1982. It was Seán Ó Súilleabháin, the chairman, who realised "there was a spider's web-like network of roads and paths that could be combined to form a route around Kerry." He began drawing the trail that we know now as the Kerry Way. The full route was completed in 1989 and opened by Frank Fahey, TD, Minister of State for Youth and Sport.

For the first few days, the Kerry Way crosses through the foothills of the MacGillycuddy’s Range, reaching a height of 1000 meters and home to 9 of the 10 highest peaks in Ireland. As you begin to reach the coast, the hills level off and you get beautiful views of the Kerry coastline. From the colorful coastal town of Waterville, the Kerry Way heads east again to Kenmare, making the most of the views of Puffin, Scarrif and Devenish Island. On the last day, the Kerry Way leads you through the beautiful Killarney National Park, a worthy conclusion to this extremely varied and spectacular walking tour.

The Kerry Way: History and Overview

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Distance: How Long is The Kerry Way?

The Kerry Way is a circular walk and starts and ends in Killarney. The trail is 214 kilometers long, which is equal to 133 miles, and is divided into 9 stages. On the way, the route guides you past mountains, valleys, lakes, old forests, sandy beaches, and archaeological remains.

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Kerry Way: Weather and Best Season

You can walk the Kerry Way all year round. The popular season is between March and October, May being the most recommended month. What you should know is that the weather conditions are frequently wet and windy, regardless of the season that you choose, so pack the necessary wet/warm weather gear and always have an extra, dry pair of shoes to wear at the end of the day. A good rain jacket and overtrousers will be your best allies.

The Kerry Way Map and Navigation

Below, you will find a map with the 9 stages of this circular walk, with the starting and ending point in Killarney.

The Kerry Way: Route From Day to Day

The Kerry Way is divided into 9 stages, starting and ending in Killarney. The Kerry Way is a hard trail to walk on some days, however, on other days, the trail is more easy. Below, you will find the 9 stages of the Kerry Way:

Day
1

Arrival in Killarney

Today you will have to make your way to Killarney. In Killarney, you will spend the night at a hotel preparing for your Kerry Way adventure.

The Fairview Boutique Hotel (Killarney)

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The Fairview Boutique Hotel (Killarney)
Day
2

Killarney to Black Valley

Duration: 06:24 h
Distance: 23.1 km
Ascent: 410 m
Descent: 380 m
The path leads you into country lanes and trails that run through Killarney National Park. The route passes the 18th -century Muckross manor house and continues on forest and hillside trails. The path leads you into the Black Valley and from this point, the ascent begins towards MacGillycuddy’s Range. The views become more and more spectacular and eventually you descent, back to the accommodation, in the middle of the Black Valley.

Black Valley Lodge (Black Valley)

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Black Valley Lodge (Black Valley)
Day
3

Black Valley to Glencar

Duration: 06:34 h
Distance: 23.3 km
Ascent: 590 m
Descent: 570 m
The path continues through the impressive Black Valley. The tops of Braghabinnia Mountain and Carrauntoohil tower above you. The rough mountain terrain changes and now becomes wooded as the route circles Brassel Mountain. On the way to the Brida Valley, the terrain gets rougher again and the route runs along Cummeenduff Lake, located on the southern edge of the MacGillycuddy’s Range. After this, you go into the Ballycullane Valley and descend to Glencar.

The Climber's Inn (Glencar)

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The Climber's Inn (Glencar)
Day
4

Glencar to Glenbeigh

Duration: 04:49 h
Distance: 17.3 km
Ascent: 300 m
Descent: 350 m
Today, you first follow the river Caragh on a country road and forest track before reaching Drombrane Lough. You walk further into Lickeen Woods. You will then ascent to a mountain pass between Seefin and Coolroe where you can enjoy the beautiful view over Inch Point and the coast of Glenbeigh. A final descent takes you to Glenbeigh.

The Glenbeigh Hotel (Glenbeigh)

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The Glenbeigh Hotel (Glenbeigh)
Day
5

Glenbeigh to Cahersiveen

Duration: 08:44 h
Distance: 31.6 km
Ascent: 560 m
Descent: 570 m
You leave Glenbeigh via the Behy Bridge and walk on forest paths through the hills and mountains to Cahersiveen. Along the way you can enjoy the many panoramic views over the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. You pass a number of Celtic crosses, grave and memorial stones before reaching Cahersiveen.

Quinlan & Cooke Boutique Townhouse (Cahersiveen)

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Quinlan & Cooke Boutique Townhouse (Cahersiveen)
Day
6

Cahersiveen to Waterville

Duration: 08:47 h
Distance: 30.4 km
Ascent: 750 m
Descent: 760 m
Leaving Cahersiveen behind, you immediately but gradually begin to ascent further to the top of Knockavahaun. From this strategic point you have spectacular views of the Beginish, Valentia and the Church Islands. A quick descent follows to Canuig and the colorful village of Waterville.

Clifford's Ocean View (Waterville)

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Clifford's Ocean View (Waterville)
Day
7

Waterville to Caherdaniel

Duration: 04:45 h
Distance: 17.2 km
Ascent: 300 m
Descent: 290 m
Today is a relatively short walking day. You walk on avenues and mountain paths through the rolling landscape. This area is full of historic sites and you will pass memorial stones, Chillin (Irish for small church or cemetery), megalithic tombs and Ogham Stones.

The Olde Forge (Caherdaniel)

Info
The Olde Forge (Caherdaniel)
Day
8

Caherdaniel to Sneem

Duration: 05:12 h
Distance: 18.3 km
Ascent: 400 m
Descent: 410 m
The path leads you through a slightly hilly terrain and you walk on country roads, forest and mountain paths. Today’s highest point can be reached at Gortamullin. On top of the hills, the views over the many small islands and the Berry Peninsula, with its jagged coastline, are nothing but spectacular.

Coomassig View (Sneem)

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Coomassig View (Sneem)
Day
9

Sneem to Kenmare

Duration: 09:54 h
Distance: 35.8 km
Ascent: 640 m
Descent: 630 m
Today is a long but fairly easy walking day. The route is quite flat and has no significant ascents. You walk on country roads and low mountain paths with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other. Eventually you will arrive in the fishing village of Kenmare.

An Bruachan (Kenmare)

Info
An Bruachan (Kenmare)
Day
10

Kenmare to Killarney

Duration: 07:35 h
Distance: 26.6 km
Ascent: 620 m
Descent: 610 m
The final stage of the trail completes the route and takes you back to Killarney National Park. Today you mainly walk on country roads and the route leads you between Peakeen Mountain and Knockanaguish. The tour ends in Killarney, where the route started.

The Fairview Boutique Hotel (Killarney)

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The Fairview Boutique Hotel (Killarney)
Day
11

Departure

After breakfast, our services and your Kerry Way adventure will be over. Have a safe trip back home!
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Kerry Way Accommodation

On the Kerry Way, you can either spend the night in a cozy hotel or in a typical Irish B&B, where you will receive a warm welcome and a typical Irish breakfast. There are also campsites along the path. Wild camping is also possible along the Kerry Way. In case you prefer this, please keep in mind to place your tent sheltered. The wind can change in a few hours from calm to strong. Ask for drinking water at the houses, water from the streams is unreliable due to the many sheep that are drinking from it.

Luggage Transport on the Kerry Way

The Kerry Way is a very popular trek and attracts thousands of tourists every year. Thanks to this popularity, there is always a possibility to have your luggage transported. Your suitcase will be picked up from your hotel each morning and it will be ready for you at your next hotel at the end of the day. Quite convenient, isn't it?

Walk the Kerry Way: Starting and Ending Point

The Kerry Way begins and ends in Killarney. Since it is a circular route, the path can be walked in both ways. Killarney is reachable by public transport.

Starting point

To get to Killarney, you first have to travel to either Kerry Airport, Cork Airport, Dublin Airport or Shannon Airport. From there, you can take the train or bus to Killarney. You can also drive to Killarney by car. Killarney is a touristic town. Here you can find many traditional farms, the Killarney National Park, castles and of course the Irish Whiskey Experience.

Ending point

Since the Kerry Way is a circular walk, the route also ends in Killarney. You can travel to one of the airports by train or bus. In case you came by car, you can pick it up where you left it.

Walk the Kerry Way: Starting and Ending Point

Packing List for the Kerry Way

No matter where you go hiking or for how long, bringing the right equipment is of utmost importance. For your hike, the first thing you need is a good backpack. The size of it will depend on the number of days you will be trekking, the season and the clothes you take with you. If you have luggage transport, the comfort level of your daypack is most important. We have compiled a packing list with a few essential items of clothing you should bring and some extras you might find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

Safety tips for the Kerry Way

Although this is far from being a trek in the Himalayas, unexpected things can always happen and you might also find obstacles on the hiking trails along the way. The Kerry Way is safe, the trails are quite straight forward and there is not an extreme difference in altitude. However, for your safety, every hike deserves a level of respect; respect for the terrain, the trails, wildlife and vegetation, local rules and regulations, and above all, your physical capabilities and safety. Therefore, for an unforgettable and safe hiking memory, please keep the following safety recommendations in mind:

  • Know your limits

    Always prepare each stage carefully to use your energy wisely, respect your physical and mental limitations, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. When ascending or descending, if applicable, always use the aids provided, such as handrails and ropes. Is this trek suitable for you? Well, familiarize yourself with the grading system and figure out if this trek matches your capabilities. If you still need professional advice you can always contact Bookatrekking.com experts.

  • Stay on marked trails

    The most important thing is to never leave the marked paths. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B in the Kerry Way. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you.

  • Fully equipped

    Make sure you have the necessary gear for the conditions you'll be facing, including appropriate clothing, footwear, and any necessary equipment for the terrain you'll be hiking on. Always wear clothing adapted to the weather of Kerry Way and protect yourself from cold and wetness or heat and sun. Besides, make sure you carry enough food and water for the duration of your trek. On the way, you might (or might not) be able to buy snacks.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Kerry Way.

  • Respect for nature

    Do not litter, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the Kerry Way?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Kerry Way and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations, organizing luggage transportation and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Kerry Way not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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