Discover the enchanting lakes of County Kerry and trek the lush forests of County Cork on a walking tour of bonnie Ireland.

Discover the beauty of the Emerald Isle, from rugged oceanside cliffs to tranquil lakes to grand historic estates as you make your way between coastal marvels and inland wonders. Beginning in County Cork, trek through the pristine valleys of Gougane Barra Forest Park, and take in sweeping coastal views from the famous Sheep’s Head Way walking trail. Visit several of the sights on the ring of Kerry as your walking tour takes you to the enchanting Killarney Lakes, through the dramatic Gap of Dunloe and to historic, Muckross House. Stay at local accommodations sampling warm Irish hospitality—and perhaps a Guinness or two at the local pub. Ireland’s natural beauty, rich history, and lively spirit come to life on this self-guided walking tour.

Highlights

  • Follow the Dingle Way along pristine coastline enjoying views of the Blasket Islands and passing by Neolithic clochán, beehive-shaped drystone huts.
  • View the countryside through Irish eyes, as your friendly hosts share their knowledge of the area during stays at locally owned accommodations.
  • Admire the same view of the Killarney Lakes that impressed Queen Victoria in 1861, as you walk from Ladies’ View further into Killarney National Park.
  • Explore the beautifully preserved 19th-century country estate of Muckross House, one of County Kerry’s famous historic homes.
On all Self-Guided Adventures you can count on...
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A local representative available 24/7.
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Detailed maps & route notes featuring turn-by-turn directions and places of interest.
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Delicious meals—many are included.
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Scheduled taxi transfers to bring you to and from each day’s walks.
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Gracious accommodations that are a clean, comfortable home away from home.
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Experts to handle all the details, including moving your luggage between hotels while you’re out exploring.
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Access to a Self-Guided Flight Concierge—ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync with your planned trip.

Itinerary

Mon, Apr 15 to Sun, Jun 30 - 2019

Show Itinerary:

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.

Accommodation: Gougane Barra Hotel, Gougane Barra

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 mountains, valleys, stream, and lakes. 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.

Accommodation: Gougane Barra Hotel, Gougane Barra

6.6 miles, moderate, 500-ft. elevation gain and 1,000-ft. elevation loss

Today, stroll along a section of the Sheep’s Head Way, a long-distance trail over 93 miles (150 kilometers) in length, which passes along the coast of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula and throughout the general Bantry area. Walking here, you’ll discover a peaceful, unspoiled peninsula which has some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Ireland—low, rugged hills and cliffs that feel wonderfully remote, despite being no more than a few hundred meters from roads at any point. After a short taxi transfer from your hotel, the route starts at a pass along the spine of the peninsula and follows a stretch of this ridgeline, with extensive panoramas of the Atlantic. The Caha Mountains and the Beara Peninsula are clearly visible across Bantry Bay to the north and to the south the more sheltered Dunmanus Bay, with its pretty villages nestled along the shore. At the end of your walk, you arrive at Bantry House, a stately 18th-century mansion set in formal gardens on the southern shore of Bantry Bay. It was the seat of the Earls of Bantry and has extensive gardens, as well as a very pleasant café, on the grounds. Admission here is included on your tour (please note that Bantry House is closed on Mondays from April 14–May 31 and September 1–October 31; please avoid starting your tour on a Saturday during this time frame should you wish to visit Bantry House on Day 3). Your final destination of the day is just a few miles away in the quiet coastal village of Ballylickey.

Accommodation: Seaview House Hotel, Ballylickey

7 miles or 9 miles, easy to moderate, 850-ft. elevation gain and 1,050-ft. elevation loss

Today begins with a transfer (approximately one hour) over Moll’s Gap, with the famous Ladies’ View over the Killarney Lakes, and to the start of your walk at Derrycunnihy Church on Galway’s Bridge. 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 transfer to your accommodation for the next two nights in Killarney.

Accommodation: Cahernane House Hotel, 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 seven 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.

Accommodation: Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney

7.4–9 miles, easy to moderate, 900-ft. elevation gain and loss

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 clochán, beehive-shaped drystone 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, before walking to dinner at a restaurant of your choosing.

Accommodation: Benners Hotel, Dingle

The town of Dingle invites exploration—with its colorful houses, lively fishing port (and resident dolphin, Funghi), pubs and restaurants, quaint 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.

Accommodation: Benners Hotel, Dingle

After breakfast, a complimentary transfer from Dingle to Tralee is provided (60–90 minutes) to make your train or bus connections.

What's Included

Tour Only
Boutique accommodations Check
11 meals: 7 breakfasts and 4 dinners Check
Detailed water- and tear-resistant Route Notes and maps Check
Orientation meeting with a Country Walkers representative Check
Local representative available 24/7 Check
Scheduled taxi and luggage transfers (Please note: If unable to walk, it is possible to transfer with your luggage from one accommodation to the next at no additional charge.) Check
Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary: Entrance to Bantry House & Garden Check
Travel assistance available 24/7 provided by One Call International Check
Access to Self-Guided Flight Concierge—Ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync perfectly with your planned trip. Check
Morocco: Marrakesh, Foothills of the High Atlas & Essaouira

Dates & Prices

2019 Dates Number of Travelers
2 3 4 5 6 Single Supplement
Solo Surcharge
Jul 1 - Aug 31 $3,298 $3,198 $3,098 $3,098 $3,098 $565 $1,010
Sep 1 - Sep 30 $3,198 $3,098 $2,998 $2,998 $2,998 $530 $975
This tour is available daily, on request, from April 15 through September 30, 2019. Please note that Bantry House is closed on Mondays from April 14–May 31 and September 1–October 31; please avoid starting your tour on a Saturday during this time frame should you wish to visit Bantry House on Day 3. The tiered tour price is based on a guarantee of a specified number of guests—should your group decrease in size, we reserve the right to alter the per person price if necessary as reflected in the Tour Price table. Please also note that the tour price includes one arrival transfer from Cork to Gougane Barra on Day 1 of the tour and one departure transfer from Dingle to Tralee on Day 8 of the tour. If traveling in a group of two or more with separate arrival and/or departure times, additional charges will apply for multiple transfers. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy.
2020 Dates Number of Travelers Pre Hotel Night Post Hotel Night
2-3 4+ Single Supplement
Solo Surcharge
2+ Single Supplement
2+ Single Supplement
Apr 15 - Jun 30 $3,198 $3,198 $548 $998 $148 $148 $148 $148
Jul 1 - Aug 31 $3,498 $3,498 $548 $998 $148 $148 $148 $148
Sep 1 - Sep 30 $3,398 $3,398 $548 $998 $148 $148 $148 $148
This tour is available daily, on request, from April 15 through September 30, 2020. Please note that Bantry House is closed on Mondays from April 14–May 31 and September 1–October 31; please avoid starting your tour on a Saturday during this time frame should you wish to visit Bantry House on Day 3. Please also note that the tour price includes one arrival transfer from Cork to Gougane Barra on Day 1 of the tour and one departure transfer from Dingle to Tralee on Day 8 of the tour. If traveling in a group of two or more with separate arrival and/or departure times, additional charges will apply for multiple transfers. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy.