Ireland: Cork & Kerry

Self-Guided Walking Tour, Ireland: Cork & KerrySelf-Guided Walking Tour, Ireland: Cork & Kerry

Ireland

Cork & Kerry

overview

Walk apace with history on this Irish adventure, as you meander between coastal marvels and inland wonders. Ice Age landmarks and medieval sites coexist with modern pleasures in the colorful towns. Begin in the mountain wilds of Gougane Barra Forest Park, where valley vistas sweep to lakeshores. Sample local flavors in the golfing and shopping haven of Kenmare, before a splendid interlude in Killarney National Park where waterfalls and red deer await. Victorian elegance is on display in the restored Muckross House and Gardens, while the Muckross Traditional Farms re-create 1930s rural life. Take a horse carriage to the Gap of Dunloe, one of County Kerry’s most beautiful sights. Visit 15th-century Ross Castle and 4,500-year-old Bronze Age mines. Discover beaches and Neolithic beehive huts on the Dingle Peninsula, where you can sail to the Blasket Islands, go whale-watching, and sing along in local pubs as fine Irish tradition warms your heart.

2014 Downloadable Itinerary

2015 Downloadable Itinerary

Activity Level
Easy to moderate;
4-9 miles daily
Meet
Cork, Ireland
Depart
Tralee, Ireland
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
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From our blog

Self-Guided Walking 
8 days, 7 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Full Irish breakfast daily and four dinners (days 1, 2, 4, and 6); beverages not included
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Local transfers as noted in the itinerary
  • Luggage transfers between the hotels
  • Detailed route notes and maps
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
Compare Dates & Prices
Prices Starting from...
Departure Dates 2+ travelers Single Supplement Solo Surcharge
2014
April 15 - June 30
$2,348
$475
$845
July 1 - Aug 31
$2,448
$525
$875
Sept 1 - 30
$2,348
$475
$845
2015
April 15 - May 31
$2,398
$495
$945
June 1 - 30
$2,498
$495
$945
July 1 - Aug 31
$2,498
$545
$975
Sept 1 - 30
$2,398
$495
$945
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Gougane Barra
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2
Gougane Barra
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3
Kenmare
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4
Killarney
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5
Killarney
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6
Dingle
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7
Dingle
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8
Dingle
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Day 1

Gougane Barra

Arrival in Cork. Transfer to Gougane Barra. Optional 2.5 miles, easy

From your arrival point, you are met and transferred to the small hamlet of Gougane Barra in western Cork, a wonderfully pristine part of Ireland, and to your lakeside family-run hotel overlooking St. Finbarr’s Oratory on a small island. Surrounded by heather-clad mountains, the lake is a beautiful and peaceful place, and there is a lovely walk available to stretch your legs.

Gougane Barra Hotel

Ballingeary, Ireland

On the shores of tranquil Lake Gougane Barra, a traditional three-star hotel, in the same family for five generations, is adjacent to a national forest park with a large network of trails. Comfortable modern rooms in warm colors have either lake or mountain views. Available for guests’ use are boats and bicycles, also several cozy sitting rooms, and a bar. An excellent restaurant serves updated traditional fare. The stone remains of a 7th-century monastery are on an island in the middle of the lake.

Day 2

Gougane Barra

Gougane Barra Forest Park; 6 miles, easy to moderate

Awakening to lakeside tranquility and a full Irish breakfast, today you explore the Gougane Barra Forest Park, which offers a range of trails of varying distances and degrees of difficulty, each one with a specific theme that best showcases the spectacular panoramas of mountain, valley, stream, and lake. Developed as a forest park in the early 1960s and officially opened in 1966, the Gougane Barra valley and lake owe their dramatic geology to glacial origins. The Forest Park of over 350 acres was planted in the late 1930s over what was once farmland. Now you walk amidst impressive stands of lodgepole pine, Sitka spruce, and light green Japanese larch. Finbarr, the founder of Cork, established a monastery here in the 6th century as well as a hermitage on the small island in Gougane Barra Lake (Lough an Ghugain), which can be reached by a short causeway.

Gougane Barra Hotel

Ballingeary, Ireland

On the shores of tranquil Lake Gougane Barra, a traditional three-star hotel, in the same family for five generations, is adjacent to a national forest park with a large network of trails. Comfortable modern rooms in warm colors have either lake or mountain views. Available for guests’ use are boats and bicycles, also several cozy sitting rooms, and a bar. An excellent restaurant serves updated traditional fare. The stone remains of a 7th-century monastery are on an island in the middle of the lake.

Day 3

Kenmare

Beara Way to Kenmare; 7 miles, easy to moderate

Today’s walk is on the Beara Way, in an area that is probably one of the least-developed regions of Ireland. The route starts at Bonane Heritage Park. The walk around the archaeological site takes approximately 30 minutes and provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. An amazing Bronze Age stone circle with complex lunar and solar alignments, a ringfort, standing stone, famine house, and a fulacht fiadh (ancient cooking pit) can be seen. These structures reflect the long history of habitation in this area, dating back 5,000 years. Your final destination of the day is Kenmare. Founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty, it is one of Ireland’s few “planned” towns, and with its wide range of pubs and restaurants where you can sample the “local flavors,” it has been chosen by the Irish Tourist Board as one of only two Heritage towns in County Kerry. The county is a golfing destination, and the town’s 18-hole golf course is just across from your deluxe lodge. In addition to walking, nearby are options for horseback riding, cycling, and fishing. The town also has one of Ireland’s finest woolen shops.

The Lodge

Kenmare, Ireland

A small and unique guesthouse, surrounded by secluded private gardens, is just opposite Kenmare’s 18-hole golf course. Guestrooms are elegantly decorated with rich colors and traditional furnishings, some with marble bath fixtures. A planned 17th-century town, Kenmare is not only a center for outdoor activities such as golf, walking, and horseback riding, the charming town also has interesting shops (including Quills Woollen Market), services, and several excellent restaurants within walking distance of the Lodge.

Day 4

Killarney

Derrycunnihy church to Killarney; 7 miles or 9 miles, easy to moderate, 1000-ft elevation gain

Today begins with a transfer (45 minutes) over Moll’s Gap, with the famous Ladies’ View over the Killarney Lakes, and to the start of your walk. The route takes you through the Killarney National Park, the home of the only natural herd of red deer in Britain or Ireland. You continue through the mountains to the Torc Waterfall and on to Muckross House and Abbey, where Queen Victoria paid a visit to the Herbert family in 1861. Today, many of the rooms in this magnificent mansion have been restored to their original Victorian splendor, and between the months of April and July, the mature rhododendrons of Muckross Gardens are in spectacular bloom. Adjacent to the house are Muckross Traditional Farms, which portray the farming methods and way of life of a typical rural community of the 1930s. The workshops, shops, and restaurant here are all worth exploring. From here you can either continue on foot, or take the famous “jaunting car,” a local horse-drawn carriage, on into Killarney.

Victoria House Hotel

Killarney, Ireland

This welcoming, family-run boutique hotel is situated in an ideal location, on the scenic Muckross Road in Killarney, to access both the national park and the town. Guest rooms are stylishly updated cozy retreats, with goose-down comforters and pillows. The convivial fine-dining restaurant serves locally sourced fare. The hotel’s bar has two fireplaces and, on certain nights, traditional music.

Day 5

Killarney

Layover day in Killarney

At your doorstep are a plethora of options in and around the town of Killarney, from a range of walks, to castle touring, town strolling and shopping, bike riding or pony trekking. Perhaps one of the best-known natural sites is the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass between Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain. About 7 miles in length, from north to south, within it are five lakes—Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough,—all connected by the River Loe. Connecting the first two lakes is the Wishing Bridge, so-called because it is said that wishes made while upon it are destined to come true. Nearby is Ross Castle, standing on the shore of Lough Leane. The original home of the O’Donoghue Ross Chieftains in the 15th century, the castle has been magnificently restored. The site holds evidence of human habitation going back 9,000 years, with one of Europe’s earliest Bronze Age copper mines dating back some 4,500 years. One walking option here is a 90-minute route around the archaeological sites of Ross Island. You can also walk into the vibrant and charming town center of Killarney, with its long tradition of late-evening shopping, and the tall-spired St. Mary’s Cathedral, as well as a Gothic Franciscan church.

Victoria House Hotel

Killarney, Ireland

This welcoming, family-run boutique hotel is situated in an ideal location, on the scenic Muckross Road in Killarney, to access both the national park and the town. Guest rooms are stylishly updated cozy retreats, with goose-down comforters and pillows. The convivial fine-dining restaurant serves locally sourced fare. The hotel’s bar has two fireplaces and, on certain nights, traditional music.

Day 6

Dingle

Ventry to Dunquin; 6.5-8 miles, easy to moderate, 650-ft elevation gain

This morning’s destination is the Dingle Peninsula, just over an hour’s drive away. A first short stop is at the fabulous Inch Beach, made famous in David Lean’s 1970 film, “Ryan’s Daughter.” The drive takes you past Dingle (though you’ll have plenty of time upon your return to explore the town and surroundings) and on to Ventry Beach, where you begin the day’s walk. The route starts out along the beach before rising slightly to skirt the base of Mount Eagle. Here spectacular views open up over the Blasket Islands and the Atlantic Ocean as you pass beside Neolithic beehive stone huts. The walk ends at the excellent Blasket Islands visitor center, which provides an informative overview. You soon return to Dingle, perhaps for a pint of Guinness at one of the town’s 52 pubs!

Benners Hotel

Dingle, Ireland

In the heart of the town of Dingle, this luxurious, family-run town hotel is a local landmark. Spacious guestrooms blend traditional antique-style furniture with elegant comforts. The bar and common rooms are richly decorated with antique furnishings and have fireplaces. Bustling Dingle’s many restaurants, shops, harbor, and walking routes are all easily reached on foot.

Day 7

Dingle

Layover day in Dingle

The town of Dingle invites exploration—with its colorful houses, lively fishing port (and resident dolphin, Funghi), pubs and restaurants, inviting shops, and livestock market. Nearby are local walks, as well as boating options. A vibrant town of only 2,000 residents, it is a flourishing tourist, fishing, and agricultural center. Boat trips from Dingle include whale-watching excursions and deep-sea fishing. As a market and fishing town, its numerous pubs not only provide delicious food and drink, but some also specialize in selling items from Wellington boots to sheets, blankets, and fertilizer! The town is a center for traditional music, and you can listen to it in the pubs in the evening, and by day perhaps visit the Dingle Record Shop on Green Street, or the Dingle Music School, dedicated to making Irish music as accessible as possible. Pottery is another local craft.

Benners Hotel

Dingle, Ireland

In the heart of the town of Dingle, this luxurious, family-run town hotel is a local landmark. Spacious guestrooms blend traditional antique-style furniture with elegant comforts. The bar and common rooms are richly decorated with antique furnishings and have fireplaces. Bustling Dingle’s many restaurants, shops, harbor, and walking routes are all easily reached on foot.

Day 8

Dingle

Departure from Dingle

After breakfast, a complimentary transfer to Tralee is provided (45 minutes) to make your train or bus connections.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guest Comments

N., K., and R. Nolan, New Hampshire, September 2013

Great job! We felt we saw a good representation of Cork and Kerry. The mountains, forest, beach, picture perfect hillside, historic sites and both small and larger towns were all included in the trip. This was our first CW adventure and a perfect place to start. The route was organized perfectly so each hike got better and better.  Hotels were clean and stocked with everything a traveler might need. All CW contacts both in the US and in Ireland were of the highest quality. Attention to detail made all the difference.

E. Borden, Rhode Island, August 2013

It was a new and fun way to travel, loved being in motion and out of cars, buses etc, close to the land and people, exhilarating.

V. Riley, California, August 2012

The time spent in the small towns and on the trails were a great way to see a country—getting out of the car and looking at the areas from the perspective of hillside trails changes your view and understanding of a place. This is a great way to see a country and it gives one the opportunity to meet interesting people.

C. Brownell, Vermont, June 2012

Josie and I enjoyed seamless transportation from point-to-point during our trip. The one caveat I have is that there's a fair amount of car time. I understood that going into the trip, but people need to be clear on that point. We used it as an opportunity to speak with our drivers and learn more about the area. It also affords the traveler a chance to see more of the Irish western peninsulas than other trips...a lot is packed into that one week! The hotels were great too

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