Meeting a fellow walker this summer gave me an opportunity to get out and do some more of the Kerry Way – yay! We made a plan to do the section from Waterville to Caherdaniel and benefitted from a very kind offer of a lift to our start point. I’m one of these walkers that like to do a walk without having to do to much extra walking to and from the actual exciting bit, so being familiar with Waterville, we got dropped off at the beginning of the small road in which you could say is the start proper of this section (as opposed to walking the sea front and out along the Ring of Kerry road for a few hundred metres).
By doing this, we were straightaway in quiet surroundings with lots more of the colourful wild flowers brightening up the overall dull day. As we walked we were both snapping away with our cameras (one proper good camera and one iphone!). There soon emerged a pattern; the wild flowers, cattle in the fields and views across Ballinskelligs Bay was what thrilled me, whereas derelict cottages, road signs (in Irish) and the detail of stone walls & field shapes were catching my visitors eye.
We climbed a stile to take us off-road and onto a soft grassy path. Along this way there are information boards detailing the history of the area and we learned that we were walking along what would have been known as the Butter road or Daniel O’Connell’s road. Butter would have been collected from the local area here to be brought further along to Cahirciveen and Daniel O’ Connell travelled along this road to reach his home at Derrynane House on his way to and from London.
Despite the dull day, visibility was clear and I could point out areas around Ballinskelligs Bay, such as down towards Hogs Head, out to the Skelligs, across to Bolus head and over towards Ballinskelligs hiding behind Horse Island. We had to cast our eyes about for Lohar Fort down below us and decided against going to visit it when we also read about the children’s burial ground between the fort and us. An air of sadness seemed to sweep over me, reading about this history and neither of us wished to disturb this site.
Given that the day was dull, as we began the climb up towards the Coomakista Pass and Ring of Kerry road, we were glad that the heat of the sun was not beating down on us and we both felt it was an ideal day for walking; we had great visibility, it was by no means cold – we were both in just t-shirts – and there was a slight breeze to keep us fresh! We were both just in runners and these were perfectly fine, the only part where we needed to pick our steps was that steep climb just before where the Kerry Way crosses the N70 road, had become muddy from the rain running down off the mountain.
Once the path crosses the road, there is another short and gentle climb uphill to a saddle that gives way to probably the most incredible view on the island of Ireland. It’s at this point that I get giddy with excitement at such amazing scenery and feel like bursting with pride to think that this is Ireland – and this is home!!! Although I was walking with a visitor to our shores, I think I delayed our progress a little what with standing there with a great big smile on my face just staring down at what was below me, trying to see if there was any changes to the view, trying to recognise as many points as I could, trying to see as far over to Beara and the Bull, the Cow and the Calf rocks – and trying to take as many photos and videos as I could! We were especially pleased to be taking the slow route and walking along, getting to spend our time gently exploring the area on foot, enjoying learning more about the history, scenery and environment of the area were we lucky enough to be visiting.
After crossing the Ring of Kerry road again, we traversed a small field with placid cows. Soon we climbed over another stile and we had a choice to go left and follow the Kerry Way to Caherdaniel village, or turn right and take the mass path to Derrynane. We went right. This narrow road zig-zagged its way down towards Bunavalla pier and along our way we came across a field of the friendliest donkeys! Again, I delayed progress because one handsome chappie was looking for his head to be tickled and I couldn’t see him disappointed. By 1:30 we were at the pier and we called to say “heat up the soup!”
We then joined the mass path, that hugs the huge rocks of Derrynane harbour, and walked under the lush sheltered canopy of greenery and foliage that thrives in this micro-climate. This is the path that Catholic’s from the area would have used to walk to the mass rock in penal times. There was no breeze on this sheltered side of the land and as can be typical of dull days in Derrynane, the water was like glass. It is the type of weather where everything is so still and silent, that your breathing seems to be too loud.
We made it back to Derrynane just before 2pm, having set off at 10:30 that morning. Both of us felt that the time flew by and agreed it must have been because there was so many interesting things to see and learn about on the walk. The scenery kept unfolding and we did not feel the hours passing by!
If you would like to learn more about Derrynane, you can read here:
Or if you are tempted to complete more of the Kerry Way, you could read on the next stage here: