Soar above The Gap of Dunloe and the Killarney lakes and bask in their beauty, from the top of Purple Mountain – a hike in the heart of the Reeks District that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.
Kate Kearney’s Cottage provides the ideal starting point with its ample parking, cafés and location at the base of the world famous Gap of Dunloe. An easy 60-minute walk up through the glorious Gap is a picturesque start to the day.
One of the five lakes passed is Black Lough, where the last wolf in Ireland was killed in the 18th century. At the head of the Gap, hikers leave the tarmac and tourists behind and head north-east on a well-defined trail that leads up to Glas Lough. The lough’s still waters at 472m are an ideal resting point before the steeper climb up to the summit of Purple Mountain.
Climbing on loose rocks and scree, the first peak is reached at 793m, and this leads onto a saddle up to Purple Mountain at 832m. From the top, the views of the MacGillicuddy Reeks are spectacular with a unique perspective of Carrauntoohil, Caher and Beenkeragh, Ireland’s three highest mountains. To the north lies the beautiful Lough Leane, to the south the depths of the Black Valley and, to the west, the iconic Gap of Dunloe stretches out for what seems like an age.
Descending Purple Mountain to the lower peak at 757m, leads climbers onto a ridge to Tomies Mountain. This is an enjoyable ridge with stunning views towards Killarney and its five lakes. Reaching Tomies Mountain there is a choice of descents with a detour to Tomies Rock an option for more experienced walkers.
The loose scree and rocks at the start of the descent turn to heather further on. While the deep heather and open hillside descent is tiring in places, it’s the most straightforward route down the mountain, which leads to the main Gap road. A final pit stop in Kate Kearney’s, or either of the cafés, provides the perfect end to a day in the hills.
This route, though easier than most, requires basic navigation skills as the trail can come and go in spots, walkers should have a map and a compass / GPS handy.
Suggested Bar & Restaurant
Heather is an artisan restaurant set right at the entrance of the iconic Gap of Dunloe offering a genuine ‘farm to fork’ experience. This bright and spacious table service restaurant opens onto five acres of kitchen gardens, containing polytunnels and ornamental landscaping. The focus is always on fresh, simply prepared, seasonal food in a vibrant, welcoming venue.