At over 200km and pieced together through a series of old roads, dating back over a thousand years, the Kerry Way has earned its title as one of Ireland’s longest and most beloved walking trails. Starting and finishing in the bustling town of Killarney, the Kerry Way has attracted many tourists from near and far—and Michael Blanton is one of them. A hiking enthusiast enamored by the Kingdom’s charm, Michael and his pals undertook a 10-day Kerry Way trek in June 2022 with Hillwalk Tours, and he generously shared his adventure with us. His step-by-step journey serves as both an inspiration and a guide for fellow and future hikers looking to take on the trail! Let’s take a look at how it went.
Hailing from the USA, eight intrepid hikers convened in Killarney, Co. Kerry to undertake 8 days of walking on a 10-Day Challenging tour. The group averaged 25.35 kilometres; 648 metres of climbing; and a minimum of 3 Guinness each day (!) Passing through some of the most isolated and dramatic Irish countryside, with views of the highest peaks in Ireland, the team never failed to capture some mesmerizing snaps of the luscious landscape too.
Day 1 – Killarney to Glencar
Dusting off the boots and stepping into the 1st hiking day is no easy feat, but Michael and his group are no strangers to the walking game. In 10 hours, they walked 33 kilometres through Killarney National Park, the Black Valley, Bridia Valley, and finally to their B&B in Glencar.
Day 1 highlight: Viewing the beautiful terrain, filled with glorious flora and fauna, including some friendly horses and sheep!
Day 2: Glencar to Glenbeigh
The 2nd day of hiking covered a variety of landscapes over 24 kilometres and 8 hours. The group traveled from Glencar to Glenbeigh, which is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Ring of Kerry’.
Day 2 Highlight: The team was often greeted by precious pets as they passed through the many farms along the route.
Day 3: Glenbeigh to Foilmore/Caherciveen
The 3rd day of hiking took approximately 6 hours. On a somewhat less strenuous day, the hikers decided to take it easy and soak up the breathtaking views of Dingle Bay along their 20-kilometre journey.
Day 4: Caherciveen to Waterville
The 4th day of hiking comprised 22.5 kilometres of trekking over 9 hours. The day included a lot of climbing; the trail leads up along a ridge of small hills and gradually up to peaks of up to 300 metres.
Day 4 Highlight: After a busy day, the group opted to make a stop at O’Dwyer’s Pub in the heart of Waterville for a much-needed rest and a pint of Guinness!
Day 5: A No-Hike Day
Typically, the Kerry Way is broken into 8 days (+2 days for travelling), however, this can be quite demanding. Those looking to make the most out of their hike while still taking advantage of the holiday experience are advised to include rest days—which is exactly what Michael and the gang did.
Using Day 5 as their rest day allowed the group to see what drew them to Kerry in the first place—the Star Wars Connection! The friends hailed taxis to Portmagee and took a boat ride out to Skellig Michael. Two episodes of the Star Wars saga were filmed on the island of Skellig Michael and in Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula. The rugged Skellig Michael is abundant with beautiful stone beehive huts and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is definitely worth the trip out.
Day 5 Highlight – Although they came for Star Wars, it was the humble puffin that stole the show on day 5. The group also stopped for a bite to eat, and fell in love with the southwest coasts’ mussels, brown bread, and butter—delicious!
Day 6: Waterville to Caherdaniel
The 6th day of the holiday and the 5th day of hiking took the group along the coastline to Caherdaniel. The 21.24-kilometre journey took 7 hours to complete and the hikers saw some great sites, including the Charlie Chaplin statue in Waterville. Michael et. al finished off the hike in the Blind Piper Pub in Caherdaniel for some authentic and local seafood chowder.
Day 7: Caherdaniel to Sneem
The group’s 7th day was pleasantly verdant as they made their way along what’s known as the ‘green roads.’ The hike includes part of the Old Kenmare Road, complete with boggy pastures and views over the Kenmare River Bay. The 19-kilometre walk took 6 hours to complete.
Day 7 Highlight – The gang celebrated their fellow hiker’s birthday. Bruce said “Slainte” with Guinness and a cider at D O’Shea’s Bar in Sneem.
Day 8: Sneem to Kenmare
Sneem to Kenmare is a long but splendid walk across some beautiful terrain. The 37-kilometre journey took 10 hours to hike, following Blackwater Bridge, the busy Ring of Kerry, uphill toward Gortamullin Hill, and down into the lively Kenmare.
Day 8 Highlight – Delighted by the day’s success, the group enjoyed some live Irish music in the Kenmare Brewhouse.
Day 9: Kenmare to Killarney
The 9th and final day of the hike took 7 hours to complete 26.5 kilometres. The fine walk looped back to Killarney, allowing the group to enjoy some gorgeous scenery between Peakeen and Knockanaguish Mountains, before bringing to an end the mammoth journey.
If you are interested in undertaking a similar journey to Mike and the gang, then check out our Kerry Way Tours. If a challenging tour might be too much, don’t fret, there’s more moderate and gentle tours to choose from too!