Hiking in Ireland – Gap Of Dunloe

There is no doubt that Kerry has some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland and many people drive through the countryside stopping every now and then to appreciate a view. To really experience the beauty of Ireland I have to recommend getting out and hiking a bit of the Irish countryside. There is a beautiful area in Kilarney national park called the Gap of Dunloe, it is accessible by car at Kate Kearneys cottage and you can take a short hike to the top of the gap or a ride with the jarvies on a horse drawn cart. There are however a number of walking routes and I would recommend one of these in Particular.

Circular route : 

This is a strenuous walk beginning and ending at Kate Kearneys cottage. It is about 15 km long and can take up to 5 hours. The first part of the Hike is a mountain trail and brings you across open and challenging terrain, there are some steeper slopes and minor scrambling is needed in places. The recommended route Heads to the right and follows a trail into the eastern Magillacudy reeks up purple mountain. You return via the Gap of Dunloe comprising of a string of Lakes, a feature known as a pater noster of lakes. This create a stunning vista at the end of a hard walk.

Gap of Dunloe


  • Wear good climbing clotes and boots (terrain can be rough and boggy)
  • Be of a good fitness level
  • Plan your trip
  • Bring water
  • Download detailed map and gps ActiveME  iPhone App and Android App

You can find a map directions and more details here

Black Valley and Gap of Dunloe Hike

You can either start the tour at Kate Kearneys or you can start at Ross castle in Kilarney national park. I recommend starting at Ross castle as you finish your hike with spectacular views of the gap of Dunloe.

Depart from Ross castle by boat. Travel through the famous lakes of Kilarney and enjoy the views  I recommend the smaller boat as it can get into the  meeting of the water surrounded by woodland on the other side which is an almost surreal experience. You then have a short hike to Lord Brandon’s cottage. You depart from here on your hike proper. The hike is along a path so no knowledge of hiking or previous experience is needed. The initial walk is an easy gradient and very enjoyable, The gradient increases zig zaging up the hillside to the gap of Dunloe. When you summit the hill and get your first views of the Gap of Dunloe it will take your breath away. The walk down to Kate Kearneys cottage is beautiful and relaxing. Enjoy a pint in Kates before getting the bus back to Kilarney.

Gap of Dunloe

This walk is perfect for those with little to no experience, the views are stunning and the distance of 11km is accessible to most.Time to complete 2.5 to 3  hrs to do the hike and allow one hour for the boat ride

Gap of Dunloe


  • Bring sufficient water
  • Bring a snack
  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear (no special equipment or clothing is necessary)
  • Be of moderate fitness

I highly recommend this walk as the scenery is stunning especially the Gap of Dunloe, when you earn the view through a hike you appreciate it all the more!





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