Majestic views, beaches, harbours, mountains, loughs, dappled sunlight, stone circles and shady woods. A beautiful day to eclipse yesterday’s deluge.
I set out early from Eyeries on this long section heading for Faunkill and the Woods, Ardgroom and Lauragh. After yesterday’s mist and rain, the weather has completely changed into a mild, dry and bright morning: perfect hiking weather.
The route out of Eyeries is stunning. Hugging the coast across stony beaches and camomile dunes, the path passes a ruined coastguard station before turning towards a short road section into the strangely named ‘Faunkill and the Woods’. I don’t have time to visit the nearby ‘tallest Ogham stone in europe’ but press on up the hill before turning off the road above the shore of Lough Fadda (‘Long Lough’) which is reflecting the bright clouds in its still water. The Slieve Miskish Mountains ahead are dappled with sunlight and cloud shadows.
Once across the broad valley, the route turns up a small road before joining a low ridge with magnificent views over the Kenmare river estuary across to Sneem and the hills of Kerry before a steep descent over rough ground into Ardgroom where I buy lunch at the well-stocked village shop and café.
The temperature has risen and the 4km road walk out of Ardgroom is wearisome. I take a 2km detour to the Ardgroom stone circle. It’s a fine example and worth the extra distance.
Off the road at last and a steep climb up to a pass between Drung Hill and Keecragh Mountain, winding up between large erratics on a track that feels ancient. (I read later that it is, in fact, a Medieval road). The valley beyond is beautiful, crossed by small watercourses tumbling down the rocks with lonesome wind-bent thorn bushes on their rocky banks.
The pair of stone circles at Cashelkeelty sit in the lush landscape bordered by forest; offerings have been left on the central stone and I add a coin while wondering what drives me to such actions even when I think I am not superstitious? I also have a grumpy thought about the intrusive power line running too close to the monument.
Descending towards Lauragh, the path enters dark tunnels of rhododendron, follows mossy boundary walls and cuts through high bracken down to the road which crosses the Croanshagh River. Lauragh is little more than a crossroads in a forested valley, the pub is now a café and Mountain View B&B seems to be the only place for an evening meal so I am pleased that I have reserved a room there for tonight.
This was a beautiful route but long and tiring, especially in the heat, and I have another long day tomorrow, so need no encouragement to get an early night.
25km (15.5 miles) in 7.25hrs