Castlegregory - Cahir Road Walk
Distance - 2 miles/3.5 km. Ascent- None
Starting at the Information Centre, walk north towards the Maharees to the crossroads at the end of the village and turn right. Remember to walk on the right, facing the oncoming traffic. On your way to the beach you will pass the local National School and the football field, where you might catch the occasional Gaelic Football match during the season, especially on Sunday. You will soon arrive at the car park, known locally as 'Boathouse Gap'as this is where the boats used to harbour in times past. Go down to the water's edge and turn right. You should have a full panoramic view of Tralee Bay. Across the Bay you can see the port of Fenit and the rich farmland of North Kerry, also Banna Beach, made famous by Roger Casement's gunrunning attempt in 1916. Sitting further out in the bay is the large rock known as 'Mucalough'. Across to your left is Europe's largest tombola 'The Maharees'. At the point of Maharees, the 'Seven Hogs' or 'Maharees Islands' are visible.
Continue on to the right as the mountain range which shelters this area comes into full view. This is the Slieve Mish range, which includes Baurbregan (851m), Caherconree (828m), Benoskee and Stradbally (824m). This is a beautiful, safe beach for swimming. It also has an array of colourful seashells and unusually coloured stones. The flat backed stones, which are plentiful, are ideal for skimming on the sea (a much-favoured pastime by many beach walker - beware of flying missiles!). On the sand dunes you will see the marram grass which was planted to prevent erosion. Sea holly and other plants are also visible on the dunes. As you walk along the beach, you will come to an abundance of rock known locally as 'The Lough', where people used to gather seaweed and shellfish such as mussels when in season. At low tide, it is an ideal place to study the sea habitat. In the pool one can often find small crabs and birds are always present. As you continue , you will come to the Owenmallagh River. It is usually shallow enough to cross, but you may prefer to use the stepping stones which bring you to a path to the south which you follow for a few yards to the tarmacadam crossroads.
On your left is a small hill, which we leave for another outing. Ahead is the route to Kellysheight. Take the road on your right which takes you back to Castlegregory. You are now walking in an area called Cahir. You will cross the Boat Bridge where boats used to anchor in olden days. The marshland on either side provide an abundance of flora and fauna. Before you reach the village you cross a second bridge which is called 'The Washing Bridge', where women used to do their washing on Monday mornings. Near the end you will find 'Tobar an Gabha'which was the main water source for the village. At Bowler's cross you are back in the Village.
Castlegregory - Arraglen Walk
Distance 5m/8km Ascent- moderate
This is a lovely walk that takes you on a very quiet country road leading to Glanteenassig forestry. The scenery is spectacular and there is a little climb, but nothing too strenuous. It is such a contrast from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. At the Information Centre, turn left and walk south on the road out of Castlegregory Village. Walk past the garage and on your left you will see a two storey house. The old railway station is beside this. Keep walking along the road. On the left you will see where the old railway line was. It is now overgrown. Take the second right turn at the bend of the road. This lane is called 'Rocky Road'.Walk up here and you will reach a crossroad. You are to take the road straight ahead, so you will have to cross the main road - carefully!This is the main Tralee - Dingle road. Cross and walk straight ahead. This area is called Cloghananode. Keep on walking and you will pass Twilight Stained Glass studios. Follow this lovely, peaceful road to Arraglen and take note of the flora and fauna en route. There is gorse,bramble,holly,ivy,bogcotton and heather. The yellow gorse and the purple heather are very eye-catching and beautiful when in bloom. The bog cotton (in Irish called ceannban) blooms in early spring and resembles cotton wool. There is also a good selection of birds and wildlife up here. The birds found here include sparrows, swift, stonechat, hawks, herons, grouse, curlew, golden plover etc. Some of the animals found here include blue hare, rabbits, frogs, stoats, foxes and badgers. Time to sit and relish the peace and quiet! You will see some lovely mountains in front of you and behind you is the beautiful beach at Aughacasla. After walking for approximately 2.5miles/4km you will reach the forestry gates. Glanteenassig means 'Valley of the Waterfalls'. You may return to the village at this point, but if you are feeling adventurous, continue into the forestry where you will find three lovely lakes, some waterfalls and some beautiful picnic areas. You may wish to return via the same route taken to get there, or you may continue on through the forestry and take the road through to Keelballylahive which would then take you to the main Tralee-Dingle road at Aughacasla where you would then turn left. At the Kellysheight Shrine, you turn right and continue back to Castlegregory Village.
Castlegregory - Sandy Bay (Beal Geal)
DISTANCE: 3 Miles - TIME: 1 Hour - ASCENT: None
A beautiful walk which takes you on the beach, headland and dune. There are no steep climbs and the scenery is spectacular. The Maharees is the largest tombola in Europe. It is on the northern tip of the peninsula, which is a sandy geological link between mainland and islands. Maharees is a narrow strip of dune, which separates Tralee Bay on the East from Brandon Bay on the West. It is renowned as one of the prime habitats of the natterjack toad. It is also famous for its growing of carrots and onions, and is a very popular tourist attraction, especially among watersports enthusiasts. WALK At the Information Centre, turn right and walk north to the crossroad at the end of the village. Take the road to the right to Castlegregory beach. This passes the National School and the football field (where matches are played most Sundays). When you get to the car park, go down on to the beach and turn left towards Maharees. The scenery here is beautiful. There are some lovely shells along this beach, e.g. oyster, razor shell, cockles and mussels, whelk, etc. Keep on walking until you get to the Trench river (where it joins the sea). Here you might have to come up onto the road for a little while to prevent getting wet. Continue walking along the road until you reach Sandy Bay beach, but be careful as this can be a very busy road, during the summer season especially. Sandy Bay is a very short distance away and here you can take a well deserved rest. This is a beautiful beach which is very popular with both swimmers and water-sport enthusiasts. There is also a lifeguard on duty in the summer months. Keep walking along the road and you will cross a bridge at an S-bend over the Trench river (if you prefer, you can return via the beach again). This river comes from Lough Gill, which is a lively lake at the west end of Castlegregory Village. Lough Gill is a wildlife sanctuary which is a must for any bird watchers among you. Continue on this road and you will then reach Castlegregory. We hope you have enjoyed this short walk and that you may now feel ready to try something more adventurous.!
Lough Gill - Killiney Church Walk
Distance 1-2 miles - Time 1 hour - Ascent - None
This is an especially nice walk which can be done at a leisurely pace and would interest both lovers of archeology and history and those interested in the local flora and fauna. At the Information Centre, turn right and walk to the crossroads. At this point turn left and follow the road until you see the Community Hall on your left. Across from the hall is a road leading to Lough Gill. Follow this road to the parking lot and observe the many species of birds that nest in this area. The lake is stocked with brown trout. This area is also home to the Natterjack Toad, a creature indigenous to the area, and is easily identified by the distintive yellow stripe on its back. Return to the main road and continue towards Killiney on your right. You will observe the ruins of a medievel church adjacent to the present Protestant Church, which was built around 1812. Behind the ruined church is evidence of an even older settlement in the form of an old stone cross nine feet high (2.7m), possibly once a Gallaun, chiselled into its present shape with the coming of Christianity. Within the churchyard there is a monument to the memory of the crew of the Port Yarrock, a ship that was lost in Brandon Bay in 1894. You may now return to the village along the same route.
Glenaloo-Maghanaboe-Liscarney Walk Easy/Moderate walk. Ground can be wet. Hiking boots recommended. A mile and a half along the Conor Pass road from Kilcummin, at a hairpin bend where the road crosses the Glenahoo Riveris the entrance to Glenahoo, an untarred road to the left. The glen has the classic 'U' shape of a glaciated river valley. The road in climbs steeply at first then drops gradually towards the valley floor and the Glenahoo River. This is a very pleasant two mile walk (3.2km) through the glen to Maghanaboe where the last wolf in Ireland is said to have been killed in 1712 at a place which bears the name 'Wolf-Step'. To the west rise Been Bo and Slieve na Gower linked together by a curving ridge. East is Beenator joined to Beenoskee and Stradbally mountains. The glen curves round to the east at Maghanaboe and ends under the slopes of Beenoskee. Above the steep grassy slope at the head of the valley is a boggy plain across which is an old route to Annascaul to the south-east. According to Foley's 'History of West Kerry' this route was once used by people going to Annascaul and Ballinaclare fairs. They drove their herds over this road. Foley (writing in 1907) obviously regarded the road as being 'old' and disused in his time. The same road may have been the route taken by the garrison fleeing from Castlegregory to Minard after being attacked by Cromwell's forces. Half a mile further up the Conor Pass road, beside a narrow road to the right, is Tobar Nioclais (St. Nicholas' Well) a Holy Well in the middle of a field. The well is now dry but the waters appear today a little way down the field. Beside the well is a low stone with a simple cross incised in it. A little way east on the other side of the main road is the old Churchyard of Ballyduff. Just beyond the site of St Nicholas' Well an untarred road to the left leads to Barleymount, passing the ruin of the old Poor House. This was originally Liscarney House. In 1819 Peter Bodkin Hussey, who had restored the fortunes of his family and built Farranakilla House in Dingle, purchased Killmore Lodge and Liscarney from the Fitzgeralds. He was a fiery red-headed lawyer and a friend of Daniel O'Connell's, but he is chiefly remembered for being the father of Sam Hussey, one of the best-known figures in 19th century Ireland, a land agent immortalised in folklore as the epitome of tyranny and oppression. The house was converted into a Poor House during the Famine. Those who died were buried in the 'pauper's corner', which was the north-west corner of the Ballyduff graveyard.
An Sas or Sauce Creek
A well marked easy to moderate walk. Would take 3 to 4 hours to Sauce Creek and back. Longer route would take five to six hours. Essential Gear: Wet gear, fleeces, gloves, map, compass etc. Cliffs run from Brandon Creek (where St. Brendan sailed from) to Brandon Point. Between these cliffs is a cove called An Sas, or Sauce Creek. Easily reached from Cloghane or Dingle. From the village of Cloghane follow the road to Brandon Pier for about three and a half kilometre. At the sharp right-hand bend, keep left and follow the signs for Teer Gallery. There is a car park at the end of the tarred road. Go through the turnstile, follow the bog road for two kilometres, until you come to a white post that points to Sauce Creek. A grassy track will bring you uphill to the first marker which is on a mound. The next marker is on a low ridge to the north. Follow the ridge to the next marker, then go north again to the edge of the cliffs. Follow the fence that runs along the cliff top to Slieveglass, a flat heathery area with great views of the cove. Three families farmed on a flat piece of land at the base of the cliffs during the 19th century. The last family left here in 1910 when, reportedly, a local midwife fell to her death on her way down the cliffs to deliver a baby. Retrace your steps to the marker at the edge of the cliff. From there continue west towards a little settlement on the lower slopes of Mas an Tiompan. This is Arraglen (deserted village) which once housed 13 families. From here you can head back along the bog road to the car park, or, you can keep going to the summit of Mas an Tiompan. As you get higher and look back, the scale of Sauce Creek becomes even more apparent, and beyond you can see from Kerry Head along the Slieve Mish Mountains and on to Brandon. From the summit you can see from Brandon Creek to the Three Sisters and the Blasket Islands. Back down from the summit to where the Dingle way crosses the mountains and follow the track back to Arraglen village and from there to the car park.
This route is difficult and takes up to seven hours to complete. Proper hiking boots, compass, map and rain gear are essential. This walk starts at the car park at Annascaul Lake. Annascaul is on the N86 Tralee to Dingle road. At the bridge in the village head north along the road to Annascaul Lake. Keep right at the first crossroads. To get to the car park you will have to open and go through a gate. Please close the gate once you are through. From the car park, follow the beautiful scenic green road that winds its way up the side of a cliff-bound, glaciated valley to the waterfalls that tumble down its head wall.(This walk is very enjoyable for those of you who are not into hill walking and just want a scenic walk).Past the waterfalls, the track zig zags up onto a small boggy plateau where there is a way marker pointing left towards the track which leads down into the Glenahoo valley. To continue with the Beenoskee walk, head towards the Beenoskee Ridge (826m) which is ahead of you. It's not possible to head directly there as there are steep sided grassy gullies in your path. To get around them, head North and then contour over to the cliffs which run up to the spot height. (Take a few minutes to relax and enjoy the view!)Heading east from the cliffs it is easy going on heathery boggy ground across to An Com Ban (610m). From here you will get your first view of the sweep of the tombola linking Castlegregory to Maharees. (Tombola is a sand spit which has grown seawards to connect an island to the mainland.) After negotiating some boggy ground, there is a steep pull on stony ground up to Beenoskee, with the stones getting larger the higher you go! The view from the summit is spectacular!! The Brandon Ridge lies to the west and the 12km beach that runs in a great arc from Fermoyle to Fahamore, is below you. To the north east Kerry Head and Loop Head mark the entrance to the Shannon Estuary. It is a relatively easy walk around the top of the coombe to the scree-covered summit of Stradbally Mountain (798m). The descent from Stradbally Mountain is easy. It is best to head South first until the ground begins to level off and then head West across the bog to the top of the track which leads back to the car park. Take care on the lower slopes because there are tiny streams which are hidden by the heather.
Brandon Mountain and Brandon Ridge (from Cloghane).
Difficult walk. Essential Gear: Wet gear, fleeces, gloves, map, compass etc. Will take about 8 hours. Start from Cloghane. Keep going through the village. Turn left for Faha where the mountain track starts. It leads up to Faha Grotto, the starting point for pilgrimages to the summit, and then west, up and across the mountainside. The path turns to the northwest. A series of small punchbowl corrie lakes, one flowing gently into the next are beneath you. The track now contours along the side of the valley to the floor of the coom, and crosses over bare rock outcrops marked with painted arrows to the southwest corner where a steep ramp provides your route out of the coom. The path is well eroded and has patches of loose scree on it. It's a short easy walk to the summit from here which is marked by a large cross. At it's base is a stone structure known as St. Brendan's Oratory. If the day is clear there are magnificent views in all directions, the Kerry mountains, the Skelligs, the Blaskets. The ridge south to Brandon Peak and Gearhane is a superb hike on easy ground. The track keeps close to the edge of the cliffs the whole way. Drop to Drom na Muic (Pig's Back) at 750m, then back up to Brandon Peak, 840m. From here, the ridge gets progressively narrower for the last 200m up to Gearhane, 803m. Follow the spur south westwards and then south. Turn left down a stony track which brings you to the top of the road which leads back to Cloghane.
Mas an Tiompain-Piaras Mor-Brandon-Brandon Peak Ridge Difficult Walk.
Essential Gear: Wet gear, fleeces, gloves, map, compass etc. Will take from 3-4 hours. Follow the normal route to Cloghane village. Keep going through the village in the direction of Brandon village. About a mile out of Cloghane, the road will take a dog-leg turn to the right, with a minor road/track continuing straight on. This rapidly becomes a rocky track. Follow the track as far as it goes. The track finishes up at a stone built shed with a green roof, and there are signs for the Pilgrims Path up towards the ridge and Piaras Mor. This is the beginning of the walk. Mas-an-Tiompain is to the immediate right of the Pilgrims route and can easily be added to this ridge walk. Follow the Pilgrims Path (signposted) up to the ridgeline, where views of the Blaskets can be seen in the far distance. Once up to the ridge, turn to the left and follow the ridge in a south-westerly direction towards Piaras Mor and further on, Brandon. On the route, you will have spectacular views down over Lough Dubh, the Faha ridge and the Cloghane Route, with its chain of Paternoster lakes. Once Brandon summit is reached, either descend by the Cloghane Route or continue on southward towards Brandon Peak. Beyond Brandon Peak, you can either follow an airy arete back down to the valley or continue following the entire length of the ridge back toward the Conor Pass. At various points along the route you can see east back towards Castlegregory and Slieve Mish, west towards Dingle, Smerwick harbour and the Blaskets.
FAHA RIDGE - WALK VERY DIFFICULT - EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!
Essential Gear: Wet gear, fleeces, gloves, map, compass etc. A GPS is very handy if the weather is bad, as visibility can be reduced to next-to-nothing and path can be treacherous. The Faha Ridge walk proceeds from an East to West direction towards Brandon Mountain. Faha Ridge is on the above and to the North of the regular route up Brandon from Cloghane, known as the Pilgrims Path and Locha Chom an Chnoic to the South, and Coimin na gCnamh to the North. Follow the Pilgrim's Path uphill from the Faha Car Park, until the marked path comes close to the ridgeline. Leave the marked route, which proceeds parallel to and below the ridge, and hike up to the ridge line in a Northerly direction until you come to the remnants of a stone wall. Hike parallel to the wall up the ridgeline. The wall continues almost two thirds of the way up. A faint path mark should be visible on the South side of the wall. On the Northern side, the slope drops away quite precipitously towards the Owennafeane river. Once at the top of the slope the ridge-walk begins. The path becomes more noticeable here, and is quite easy to follow. The route initially starts with a gentle decline along a grassy slope towards a lower summit. The ground then becomes a little more rocky but the path remains quite visible as it continues down to the first notch. The first notch can be dealt with without difficulty, and the walk then starts a gradual incline up a mixed rock and grass slope, until the ridge flattens out somewhat. The path then declines again, down towards the second notch, where there is need for some gentle scrambling down to a slightly inclining rock plateau. Quite suddenly, the walker comes to the end of the rock plateau (third notch) and is faced with a sheer drop of perhaps 10-15 metres down the saddle. Any evidence of a path seems to disappear at the edge of the drop, and it takes a few minutes examination before a pssible route down a rock chimney is found to the right. Both hands and feet are needed to obtain the bottom. Once at the saddle, you leave the rock wall you've just come down, but are faced with an altogether more formidable wall looming above you. Though there are some signs of a path going toward the South and possible in the direction of the Cloghane Pilgrims Path route, igonore this and take the path to the right hand side of the rock wall, on the side of Coimin na gCnamh. The route now becomes a traverse across and up a mixed rock and grass slope, which in places is quite steep. In wet and/or snowy conditions this section of the route can be quite treacherous. Any slip could very easily result in a slide and drop over the cliff beneath. Traverse along the slope in an East-West direction until you come close to a rocky outcrop and start following a faint gully up to the right. Keep traversing upwards until you've passed over the rocky outcrop. Once over the outcrop, the slope becomes more rock than grass, and the hiker, continuing in an upward East-West direction, should traverse across until a shallow grassy gully, running down the slope in a North-South direction, is reached. Scale up the gully in a Southerly direction until the top. Mount Brandon summit is a short hike away in a Southerly direction, along a well worn path, joined by the Cloghane Pilgrims Path route where it rises out of the Locha Chom and Chnoic coum.