Closing the circle – Templenoe to Kenmare
I wake in my bright yellow room in Greenwood Hostel where there is just enough space for a small double bed and a shelf; a roof window providing light but only a little ventilation. A poster of ‘A World of Whales’ (I count 34 species) on one wall, sailor’s knots (12 plus galleon) and a few lighthouses on the other, plus a teeny-weeny mirror. Through the skylight, swallows are clearing a few midges, wheeling around in tight circles.
From here to Kenmare by the N70 ‘Ring of Kerry’ road is only about 8 or 9 kilometres but the Kerry Way makes several loops above it, taking in the scenery and doubling the distance. Some walkers stay on the road all the way but there is no footpath and fast traffic: not much fun.
Out of the hostel, across the main road and I am back in the forest. It’s a cool, hazy morning as I go down the forest track then back onto the main road for a few hundred metres, no path and cars speeding past making the most of the 100km/hr limit.
The route turns uphill on a small lane that climbs for 2.5 kilometres then turns and comes back down to the main road less than 2km further on from where it left. There is not much point to it: expensive looking dormer bungalows, a golf course and a view of the hills near the top.1
Just before meeting the main road again, the path hops over a stile and into woodland, bare tree roots and drying mud underfoot. Rising slightly I enter forestry, the path going along a little ridge of rock through the quiet trees, peaty brown water trickling alongside.
Out of the forestry and onto a boggy slope down, the ground deeply poached by cattle who are grazing nearby. It’s possibly one of the most difficult surfaces to walk on, each step is a potential ankle-turner. The waymarkers are hard to spot in the tall bog-grass but I eventually get on track heading towards the corner of the fields over a short boardwalk.
Kenmare is not far off now but the route has a final challenge, turning up towards the summit of Gortamullin at 205 metres. It’s a stiff climb for tired legs but a welcome bench has been placed at the top where I eat a light lunch: just a tortilla that was left in the hostel and a small piece of cheese I had in my food bag.
From here it is a downhill stretch towards Kenmare, ending on a quiet lane and a footpath into town. I am annoyed by some passing schoolboys who make comments about “Father Christmas bringing presents in his sack” referrring to my white (but certainly not Santa’s) beard and backpack. In hidsight I suppose there was some wit there, but in the hot sun at the end of a tiring hike, I find it annoying.
Kenmare is packed. I look in vain for an ice-cream but the shop selling the locally made version is shut. I seem to have caught an ice-cream jinx in the last two days! I eventually get a 99 in the supermarket. It’s a good one.
I wait for Herself in the garden of the vegetarian café where we were at the start of my hike 11 days ago. I intended to do some sketching in Kenmare but am too tired. She arrives looking bright and summery and we exchange news.
Back home, I extract the smelly clothes from my backpack and relax.
Tomorrow I will post an entry about my overall experience of the Kerrry Way.
About the route
This was an easy route but the section looping up from and back to the main road seemed a little pointless. Some boggy stretches before the final climb. The final footpath into town could be easily missed but it does avoid a short section on the main N70.
18km (11 miles) in just under 5 hours. Total ascent: 426m. Max. elevation: 192m