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Ireland

Spectacular coastal walks, paddling on the beach, and a pint of Guinness or two

For the second year running we headed down to the south-west of Ireland for a long weekend of guided walking to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. With the ‘beast from the east’ still very much around in the mountains, and snow still near Dublin, a lot of thought had to go into the walks, but we certainly made the most of it.

For the first of our three days we ventured down to Caherdaniel, a village on the coast of the Iveragh peninsula, and walked a loop of the spectacular Kerry Way. The journey over the inland crags may have been a bit wet, but it gave us stunning views over the rocky islands that dot the near-shore. Descending to the coastal path, the sun finally came out after lunch and we had an extended break on the beach. We admired the ruined 10th century Abbey on Abbey Island while a brave few even went for a paddle in the sea!

St Patricks trip

After coffee by the beach in Waterville, and the sun shining in a blue sky, we took in one further walk, a saunter out to Bray Head on the island of Valentia. Views back to the Kerry Cliffs and out to the famous Skellig islands (from Star Wars) made the detour well worth it, and it was after a big day that we finally sat down to dinner in Cahersiveen.

St Patricks trip

Having explored the Iveragh peninsula, the next day saw us head to Dingle, the peninsula in the north of County Kerry. Today was a bit more hilly, with the cliffs dropping hundreds of metres down into the sea and the mystical summit of Mount Brandon appearing now and then in the mist. We then spent a well-earned hour or two in the cafes and exploring Dingle itself, before a brief paddle on Inch Beach where we watched the sunset over dinner.

St Patricks trip

For the final full day, and St Patrick’s Day itself, we stayed closer to home, taking a boat trip from Ross Castle all the way up the several lakes that make up Killarney National Park. At the far end, disembarking at Lord Brandon’s Cottage, we walked back to Killarney along the Kerry Way, following some beautiful trails over the moors near Mangerton Mountain and stopping to admire Torc Waterfall.

That evening, after some much-needed time in the spa, the group hit the town in Killarney for a memorable St Patrick’s night. But you’ll have to come along next year to find out what happens…

St Patricks trip

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