Statistics: 8 1/2 miles, ascent 1551′, descent 1178′, 3 1/2 hours
Julia and her friend, Eithne, prepared a delicious breakfast for us and then offered to drop us off at the trailhead. We declined her kind offer as the walk today was not a long one. We walked through Kenmare which, like so many of the towns in Ireland, was very colorful. We also passed by the architecturally ornate Church of the Holy Cross built in 1864.
Passing the church, we could see our route…a road straight up a hill. As we climbed, it became a narrow lane, then a gravel track.
This was the old Kenmare to Killarney road which, as we ascended, became very rough. The road wound its way through rock outcroppings with several, deep stream crossings and many sheep.
We had our last views of Kenmare River and pushed on to yet another “Windy Gap,” a name used frequently to describe the mountain gaps that are open to the winds generated by the harsh weather.
Upon reaching the top, we encountered and chatted with two hikers who were walking the path in the opposite direction. They excitedly described to us their recent observation of hundreds of red deer that we would see as we continued on. Unfortunately, the deer must have became shy upon our approach, since we saw none. The valley into which we descended, however, was lovely.
A swollen stream flowing down the valley was filled with yesterday’s rainwater gushing down the hilllsides. The path crossed this stream many times forcing us to leap or jump from rock to rock at each crossing, but we managed to keep our boots dry.
Our Kerry Way adventure was drawing to a close as we completed the Ring of Kerry loop, rejoining the road we had first stepped onto ten days earlier. The end of the hike was now a short walk to a road-side gift shop and tearoom at a site known as Ladies View (more on this later). On our way to Ladies View we noticed another interesting ruin, only this one looked like a castle. After a little investigation, I discovered that this ragged skeleton of a building had been the Mulgrove Barracks built in the 19th century for the Royal Irish Constabulary as they protected the Earl of Kenmare’s deer, not the local inhabitants! Legend has it that these constables dug a pit behind these barracks to trap the same deer they were protecting. Yes, they dined rather well. In 1920 these barracks were vacated when the IRA began targeting isolated British installations. And, in order to prevent reoccupation, the IRA burned the barracks in 1922.
Ladies View was so named because Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting admired the view from this location upon their visit in 1861.
Then, just around the corner, we made it to our end-of-Kerry-Way celebratory tea and cake in the restaurant at Ladies View!