|Maggie made new friends on our hike through the Dunloe Gap.|
My mom, sister, and I spent our first afternoon in the area hiking the Dunloe Gap, a scenic pass in the peninsula's central mountain range. From a small parking lot, visitors either set out on foot or by rented horse carriage along the narrow lane that winds 3.5 miles across the valley floor to the gap's narrowest point. We opted to test our luck with the weather by walking.
Along the route, we passed reed-filled ponds and meandering streams, moss-covered trees, wildflowers and delicate ferns, and plenty of animals. There were ducks and herons, grazing horses, local sheepdogs, and of course quite a few sheep, whose owners apparently spraypaint blue and red
splotches on their sides to differentiate their herds. (At first glance, the red ones look like they've been gnawed on by some sort of carnivore.) We crossed old stone bridges and passed several country homes, but with the exception of animals and the occasional passing horse carriage we were almost entirely alone on our walk.
After successfully walking to the gap's center and back, we drove through Killarney National Park and along 20 kilometers of very serpentine coastal road—the start of the Ring of Kerry—to the scenic overlook known as Ladies' View. Though not far, this distance was enough for us to experience several near-collisions with the tour buses that careened around the tight curves of the Ring's not-quite-two-lane road. Before returning to town we stopped by the Torc Waterfall and Ross Castle, built on the shore of Killarney's Lower Lake in the 15th century.
After the day's driving and hiking, by the time we reached a pub that evening I was so tired that I just about faceplanted in my meat and potatoes.