The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is the most spoken about cycle route in the county of Kerry and beyond. It has gained popularity due to the annual Ring of Kerry event hosted on the first Saturday of July each year. The event attracts thousands of cyclists with varying abilities who come to enjoy the scenery and the challenge.
However it is important to remember that the roads around the Ring of Kerry are open 365 days per year and with many people actually enjoying cycling the route over multiple days. The route and it’s side roads can be a more serene adventure to cycle away from the large crowds.
|Starting Point||Anywhere in Killarney town center|
|Fitness Required||Level 2/3 (See here for our guide to fitness levels)|
|Bicycle Type||Any, but a hybrid or racing bike is recommended.|
|Safety Concerns||The Ring of Kerry is a very popular route for tourists to drive on and in high season is regularly busy with cars and tour buses. Some descents, particularly toward the end of the Ring, from Moll’s Gap to Killarney can also be busy with traffic on narrow and twisting roads, so just take your time and let the freehub do it’s job :)|
Killarney-Killorglin 22 km
This road is called the N72 and is generally a flat road running parallel with the River Laune. Possibly the busiest part of the route traffic wise and the least spectacular. For a quieter and picturesque alternative, take a left over Beaufort bridge and a right into the village (Deelish Park). Follow the route through Beaufort village until you reach Killorglin.
Killorglin-Caherciveen 40 km
Caherciveen-Caherdaniel 28.7 km
Continue on the N70 to the seaside town of Waterville with it’s Charlie Chaplin links. From here on you start the gentle climb up Coomakista Pass with it’s spectacular ocean views. Once at the top stop to enjoy the fantastic views of Derrynane and the small Islands dotted around the coast. Hold on tight and go carefully down the Pass to the tiny village of Caherdaniel.
Caherdaniel-Sneem 22.3 km
A nice stretch of the route which takes in the some stunning ocean views. The quaint O’Carroll’s Cove is a must see to your right with its mediterranean like hidden beach and cafe. The road meanders for a while close to the coast before cutting inland slightly. For the historians an interesting sight just off the road in this area is the Staigue Fort, on a narrow road to your left. Just before Castlecove village.
Sneem-Kenmare 26.3 km
On leaving Sneem, the road to Kenmare takes on more “rolling” effect, with gentle hills dotted along the route. From here on the sea views are replaced by more of a tree/foresty lined route. The main village between the 2 towns is Templenoe, which is within striking distance of Kenmare, so don’t get caught on this leg without food and drink.
Generally when doing the actual Ring of Kerry cycle, this part of the route can catch many cyclists as tiredness sets in. So take your time and eat well in Sneem.
Kenmare-Killarney 32.7 km
Once in Kenmare there is that feeling of being almost there. Certainly a lovely town and a great fuel stop. On leaving Kenmare though you are straight into the Molls Gap climb. Although not quite a lung buster of a climb it does seem to go on for a bit and has it’s twists and turns. Heading through the Gap at the top you immediately have views of the Black Valley. Don’t expect an immediate downhill free fall either, as there is still work to be done well into Killarney National Park, before enjoying a technical descent down from Ladies View. Once the free-wheeling stops you have a relatively flat ride into Killarney, through a forest of trees,the odd lake and the added bonus of viewing a deer if you are lucky.
Each kilometer of this route is a highlight in itself with stunning Wild Atlantic Way views, some old world charm and fabulous scenery. If you are more int he mindset to explore then we would recommend the following highlights, some deviating a little from the main route, but if you have the time, we thing the rewards will speak for themselves:
Options for Food and Refreshments
There are too many to mention for this route with many bike friendly cafes and restaurants along the way. Depending on your constitution and this long distance you will need to judge for yourself how often you need to refuel. Other than typical snacking all along the way, people often stop for a more substantial meal in Caherciveen and later in Sneem if attempting the route in one day. Be sure to keep hydrated also.
There are several options for Bike Rental in Killarney. A simple walk around the town and you will more than likely find outlets during high season in Summer. Below are a few options: