Most Inspirational Moment
Not so much one particular moment but for me the history of the area was the highlight. South West Ireland was hit hard during the famine in the 1800s and there is still evidence of that in the area with memorials, museums and graveyards. The Irish fight for independence is also a big part of the history of this region with key figures such as Daniel O’Connell coming from near Cahersiveen. You can also see ancient stone ring forts and rock tombs on the trail. The side trip to see Staigue Ring Fort on Day 4 is well worth it. One notable moment was making it to the hotel at Glenbeigh in time for the All Ireland hurling final! We joined the locals at the bar and cheered on Limerick to a well deserved win!
Thoughts on Group Leader
This is a self-guided trip so there was no leader but you will have the support of the local operator whenever you need it. Our contact, Maurice, met us at the first B&B and ran through what would happen over the week. He was really helpful and kept in touch every day to see how we were getting on. True to form in Ireland, all the people we met from B&B hosts and restaurant staff to taxi drivers were so friendly and helpful. In particular the driver who took us back to Killarney at the end of the trip was brilliant and went out of his way to help, suggesting a local castle to visit and taking us to the airport.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Although the walking isn’t difficult, there are some long days over the course of the week. A good level of fitness is essential. It is relatively flat with a few undulating hills and some steady ascents and descents. There plenty of stiles along the way so expect to climb a few of those! Most of the walks are over farmlands and walking tracks and are quite remote. There are no facilities along the way so you will need to take a picnic lunch with you. I went mid August and saw only a few other people along the track, generally going in the opposite direction to the way we were walking. The tracks are all well marked and the directions were clear and easy to follow. Be prepared for all sorts of weather. Being Ireland it will rain at some point so take a good waterproof jacket. Layers are important as when the sun did come out briefly it was warm but it could also get chilly when it was raining or windy. I made use of my woolly hat even in August. It did rain most days so quick dry clothes are a good idea. Walking boots are recommended but not essential as a good pair of trail shoes with a sturdy sole would be fine. The tracks are at times rocky and/or very muddy so waterproof footwear is strongly advised. Don’t rush it – there is plenty of time to stop and take in the views (if it’s not cloudy!). Each day is planned to start about 9.30am and if you go in the summer months it is light til quite late in the evening so you have the whole day to get from point to point. Take time to stop and speak to the locals when you can. Most of the towns we stayed in had live music in the pubs in the evenings which are worth taking in. Expect to eat a lot! Most mornings a full Irish breakfast was on offer and the size of meals when eating out were very generous. There are plenty of options to choose from for dinner in the towns we stayed at and the B&B hosts were always happy to make a recommendation. The restaurant at the Towers Hotel in Glenbeigh was especially good. Fresh seafood is also on the menu everywhere. Stop and have a Guinness at the Blind Piper pub in Caherdaniel. Nothing better than a cold Guinness after a long walk.
Do not hesitate to do this trip! If you like walking and dont mind a bit of rain, Ireland is the perfect destination.