The Kerry Way - Glenbeigh to Kells
The Kerry Way is without doubt Ireland’s most attractive national long-distance marked walking trail – a 180km circuit of the ancient oak woods, bog/moorland, inland valleys, coastal paths and sand dunes. Add in the various spurs and loops and the walking distance reaches some 260km – scope for more than a week’s walking.
We’re quite proud of the fact that one of the parts of the overall route that comes through Reeks District was actually the inspiration for the development of the trail as a whole. Learning about an old coaching road that passes through the Reeks inspired the initiators to adopt the idea of conserving old highways, communication routes, droving paths and butter roads and turning them into a marked, unified route in the 1970s and 80s.
Today, the Reeks District contains a number of interesting legs: through the Black Valley, the Bridia Valley, Glencar, Glenbeigh and Mountain Stage. The Glenbeigh-Mountain Stage-Kells leg allows visitors to walk through history while getting close to nature and enjoying spectacular views.
Navigation should be straightforward. Simply download a map and follow the signs and trail markers (black posts with yellow arrows, used for national walking trails).
Start in Glenbeigh at the picnic area on the Rossbeigh Road. A woodland path takes you along the southern slope of Curra Hill. You are led onto the Drom road which follows the line of a late-18th century coach road, through Mountain Stage (where horses were changed on a coach journey) and onto the most interesting part of the leg – along the northern slopes of Drung Hill on a former coach road.
This offers spectacular views – into and across Dingle Bay and out to the Atlantic and also back to the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range.
The coach road was developed from what must have been a route in use from earliest times with the summit home to a cairn and ogham stone, both of which feature in the mythology of the Fianna, the small, semi-independent warrior bands from Irish mythology that are said to have roamed these very hills.
While you can tell yourself that you are walking in the footsteps of earliest man, there was also a commercial purpose to these routes. Locals recognise this as a butter road. You look down on the abandoned railway line and can see the mouths of its tunnels and, later, the viaduct at Gleensk.
Reaching the top of the saddle (approx. 330m/1,050ft level), there are extensive views west to the Atlantic Ocean and Valentia Island, said to have been home to the blind mythological magician Mug Ruith who roamed these very paths around Coomshanna woods. The walk can end as you reach surfaced road at Cahernaman, which acts as a pick-up point.
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