Wild Atlantic Way's Southern Peninsula in Counties Kerry & Cork
Where to begin? It was a great time spent in County Kerry I must say. Now getting used to sitting in the car for hours, gripping the steering wheel with both hands while I whiz past other drivers. Lots of lorries (trucks) here and more particularly, large tour buses! County Kerry has its own unique feel. For me the highlights are the following:
- I stayed overnight in Dingle town after driving out to view the Blasket Islands from the cliffs there. This WAW stop is a pretty cool place with a walk down to a secluded cove or up around the hill to get a clear view of the Blasket Islands just off the mainland. The drive is as dramatic as ever and Dingle town which is not far away, has a great vibe. Lots of tourists here but lots of locals too, so it feels very authentic.
- The first stop on the drive the next morning was Inch Beach. One of my two favorite surf beaches in Ireland (my other is now Salthill in Sligo). I swam here in the past, the water a bit warmer than elsewhere in Ireland) and was happy to see the surfing industry thriving. Really consistent waves for it and perfect as a place to just swim, body surf or walk the long beach. Two cafes and a place to stay close by too. This region is well known as the home of the famous Irish Antarctic explorer, Thomas Crean who was from Annascaul, Co. Kerry.
- The next long leg of the journey took me out to Skellig Michael. This beautiful drive is part of the 'Ring of Kerry'. I didn't go over to the island of Skellig Michael although you can. Lots of cyclists seem inclined to do that on the ferry. I also saw a couple hitchhikers which seemed a throwback to the 1980s. I didn't pick anyone up, although I was tempted just for the company alone! Traveling alone can be a little lonely but the radio stations and radio chat are fabulous. Really one of the highlights of the whole trip is listening to the radio!
- One of the nicer stops I made was at the very remote but yummy, Skellig Chocolate factory and cafe. The chocolate is really good! Well worth the stop and the perfect place to pick up gifts. Sure to be much appreciated! personally, my purchases didn't make it out of the County.
- I was really impressed with the lovely, tidy and charming towns of Waterville, Sneem and particularly Kenmare. Wish I had arranged to stay there. All busy towns with tourists but they were each very nice and worth a stop at least.
- If you want to backtrack a bit from the Coastal Route it is worth driving up to Moll's Gap in the Ring of Kerry, just to say you did it. You can approach it from both ends and the drive is something else! They have cycling races, Ironman's etc here at different times. I would rather do it in the safety of a car, thank you!
- I ended up skipping the Dursey Island Peninsula and drove from Kenmare directly to Bantry as I didn't want to miss a tour of Bantry House and Gardens. An impressive, original Manor house and grounds with the original family still resident. It includes all their furnishings, artifacts and old gardens intact. Great view and you can stay overnight here too.
- The final leg this day was out to Sheep's Head. Yet another winding road with glimpses and vistas of the sea and cliffs.
I am finding it hard to keep my awe and excitement levels up at this stage, as I become accustomed to one startling view of impressive Mountains and Seaviews after another as the trip continues. I am beginning to realize that taking this in digestible bits is a better tactic to doing it all in one go. The Wild Atlantic Way has so many Gems, Views, Hikes, Antiquities, Castles, Towns, etc you need time to really do them justice.
That being said, however, I venture on to the final stage over the next two days. It's on to the Haven Coast of County Cork.
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