Depending on where you start when doing the Ring of Kerry route, the scenic Gap of Dunloe could either be among your first or last stop. This narrow mountain pass smack between MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain is hard to miss.
The area was formed by glacial flows from millions of years ago. Today, a river called Loe runs through the gap and it, hence the name.
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5 Things To Do in Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe starts at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, where the most narrow road winds through the pass and leads into The Black Valley as it passes five lakes.
Just a few steps away from Kate Kearney’s cottage is a pretty old bridge called the ‘Wishing Bridge’. Remember to stop by and make a wish, many attest that they really do come true!
From north to south, the wild and scenic Gap of Dunloe spans around 11 km. There are tours on offer where you can either hire a jaunting car (horse-drawn wagon) or boat to explore the Gap. You can also rent a bike and navigate this stunning area on your own.
If you’re doing the Ring of Kerry Tour, the Gap is about 12 kilometers west of Killarney. You may also start from the national park and head towards the west if you want to hike the area, which takes a good 2 and 1/2 hours.
Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe and its surrounding areas are dotted with interesting places to see and exciting activities to make the most of your visit.
Visit Kate Kearney’s Cottage
A must visit Gap of Dunloe attraction is a 19th-century pub located at the northern end.
If you want to relax before or after exploring the area, go and have some hot drinks or pub grub at Kate Kearney’s Cottage.
This is practically an institution in the Gap of Dunloe area, as this is the usual starting point of tours and hiking trails. During summer, Kate Kearney’s hosts live traditional Irish music sessions every night.
Bike or walk around the Gap
Going on a relaxing stroll or pedal around the Gap is one of the best ways to enjoy the area. There’s a track designated for those who want to go on this scenic and mostly quiet tour.
Take in the spectacular beauty of the area, as you walk up into the mountains. Stop every once in and appreciate the views of the craggy boulders, lakes, streams, old ruins, and a few houses.
How about a hike up Carrauntoohil? If you’re physically fit enough, enjoys challenging hikes, and some rock climbing, then this Gap of Dunloe attraction is a must.
This is Ireland’s highest summit, at 1040m, which has several trails up to cater to different fitness abilities.
Go on a boat trip
Another fun thing to do in Gap of Dunloe is to go on a boat trip. This is a different yet still equally stunning perspective of the area.
Most boat trips depart in the area close to an old Victorian hunting lodge and Cafe Lord Brandons.
Considered as one of the world’s oldest boat trips, the journey will take you from Lord Brandon’s to Ross Castle on the lower lakes of Killarney.
Visit Ross Castle
Visitors who opt to explore Gap of Dunloe and surrounding areas by boat will surely find themselves marveling at Ross Castle at some point. This is also where some boat tours depart so stop for a while and look around.
The 15th Century Tower House Ross overlooks the picturesque Lough Leane. It is located by the edge of the lake and is also regarded as one of the best places in Killarney to view the sunset.
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