The 213-kilometre-long Kerry Way is a spectacular, circular, waymarked footpath that starts in Killarney, takes in the Muckross Estate, Torc Waterfall, the Upper Lake and the Black Valley before crossing to Glencar, then goes right around the Iveragh Peninsula anticlockwise, with short offshoots to Glenbeigh, Cahersiveen, Waterville and Caherdaniel, finally passing through Sneem and Kenmare. Mostly following a network of green roads, many of which are old “butter roads”, the route provides magnificent views both of the Iveragh’s mountains and of the neighbouring peninsulas, Dingle and Beara. OS 1:50,000 map numbers 78 and 83 are essential, and Cork Kerry Tourism produce a useful Kerry Way Map Guide. The whole thing can be done in nine or ten days, or, with careful study of bus timetables, you could do day-walks along the Way beyond Glenbeigh in summer, or on the section between Glenbeigh and Waterville in winter.
An excellent website, wwww.kerryway.net, provides trail descriptions, maps and full details of hostels and other walker-friendly accommodation, offering services such as luggage transfer, evening meals and packed lunches, along the route.
Experienced walkers may well be tempted off the Kerry Way to tackle Ireland’s highest peak, Carrauntoohil (1038m). Two of the finest approaches are described in Best Irish Walks by Josh Lynam: the Coomloughra Horseshoe, a seven-hour, occasionally vertiginous circuit, starting from the bridge at Breanlee on the Beaufort–Glencar road, which also takes in the second and third highest peaks, Beenkeragh and Caher; and a tough, nine-hour Macgillicuddy’s Reeks ridge walk, beginning at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, bagging six peaks and ending at the Breanlee bridge. Guided ascents are offered by Hidden Ireland Adventures (t064/664 4733, wwww.hiddenirelandadventures.com), Nathan Kingerlee and Irish Adventures, based in Dingle.