Trip: Forest, lakes & mountains walk
Route: Tomes Woods-Lakes of Killarney-The Black Valley-Gap of Dunloe
Duration: 1 Day (4-5hrs walking)
Gear: General trekking gear for mixed weather
The walking will take 4-5 hours of gentle strolling through some of the most picturesque scenery in Ireland
The Oak Forest:
Tomie’s Woods, we walk through one of the oldest oak forests in the country and the largest in Europe. We take our ease and relax as we make our way through this ancient forest strewn with moss-covered boulders. We can admire the vivid colours and serenity of a place that could have been part of the Alice in Wonderland fairy tale.
The Oak Forest is a magical, mystical place that calms the senses as we take in the sights and sounds. The first leg of this beautiful walk is to O’Sullivan’s Cascade, a picturesque three-tiered waterfall at the edge of Lough Leane (Lake of Learning). We depart by boat to carry us to our next destination through the Lakes of Killarney.
Through the Lakes of Killarney:
From the lakeshore, we continue our way along the forest’s edge. We see the Island of Innisfallen with its monastery ruins. It was once the seat of the king of Munster, and the famous Annals of Innisfallen originated from here centuries ago. We continue under Brickeen Bridge which takes us to the Middle Lake (Muckross Lake). Legend has it that this lake is named after a fair maiden. When drawing water forgot to replace the capstone on the well as she was distracted by a handsome warrior.
The scenery on the next section of our journey is spectacular; Europe’s largest yew forest. Muckross House and its beautiful gardens. Built-in honour of Queen Victoria in 1861. We pass Torc Mountain and the Colleen Bawn Rock, commemorating one of Ireland’s most tragic love stories.
We continue our journey past an old hunting Lodge on Dinis Island under Toothache Bridge and the meeting of the waters to the Old weir bridge before we continue our way to the Long Range and the Upper Lake of Killarney. The vegetation gets more luxurious as the boat makes its way through mosses, liverworts and, of course, the famous Arbutus trees, an introduced species that have intermingled and grown wild with native plants in the natural woodland.
We make our way to the Upper Lake, also known as Serpent’s Lake, where legend has it that Saint Patrick imprisoned the last of the great snakes. We pass Ronayne’s Island and Eagle’s Nest Mountain. Which inspired Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem “Set the wild echoes flying”. We break for lunch at the end of our boat journey at Lord Brandon’s cottage before continuing on the final leg of our walk for the day.
The Black Valley
The Black Valley is between the towns of Killarney and Kenmare in County Kerry, Ireland. To visit the Black Valley is to have one of the finest scenic experiences in the world. The valley has a wild, rugged and extreme beauty, yet it also has calmness, friendliness and tranquillity. It is a natural, untamed place that reflects the people’s struggle to make a living throughout the ages.
The Black Valley is one of the most remote regions in the country to have a living community. It saw its whole population wiped out by the potato famine. Now home to a mere handful of families. It was the last valley in Ireland to benefit from the rural electrification scheme.
As we make our way through the valley, we see the towering mountains overhead. The MacGillycuddy Reeks have numerous peaks, many over 3000 feet and are home to Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntoohil. Although bare of vegetation today, up to the middle of the 17th century, they were covered with vast woodlands – destroyed by the charcoal works by Sir William Petty for his ironworks at Glencar.
The Gap of Dunloe
As we leave the Black Valley, we make our way through the famous Gap of Dunloe. The Gap of Dunloe is a wild and rugged place, gouged out by ice flows during the last ice age. The scenery is spectacular as we make our way through this deep gorge with imposing cliff sidewalls. We also pass several deep corrie lakes as we make our way for a well-deserved drink back to our starting point at Kate Kearneys Cottage and meet up with the rest of our group before retiring to The Mountain Lodge for a shower before dinner.
Due to the nature of Irish weather, our walking adventure will have options that we can alter depending on the condition.
If we are going to an island, we will be able to alter our walking days to pick the best time to take advantage of sea conditions. We will also be able to adjust high level walks to coastal walks depending on conditions on the hills.
Suggested add on
Visit Kate Kearney’s Cottage. Kate was a local beauty in the mid 19th century who ran a shebeen (illegal drinking house) and was reportedly free with her favours. She was constantly in trouble with the law, as she also sold poteen (moonshine) to passers-by. Her luck ran out, though, when blight attacked
the potato crop. She fled, leaving only her poteen still behind.
Nowadays it is a pub, restaurant and shop and is a popular venue with locals and visitors alike for a quick pint or something to eat after our treks.