Iveragh Peninsula

  • Reeks, south-west  down Iveragh from saddle below Carrauntoohil - © William Mackesy
  • Broghnabinna, Black Valley - © William Mackesy
  • Windy wall, Upper Black Valley - © William Mackesy
  • Lake and waterfall,  Black Valley - © William Mackesy
  • Hag"s glen head, Carrauntoohil touched by cloud - © William Mackesy
  • East along Reeks from Bro O"shea - © William Mackesy
  • Reeks, Ridge toward Caher - © William Mackesy
  • South from high Reeks ridge - © William Mackesy
  • Reeks, Caher from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy
  • Main ascent from near Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy
  • Reeks, Cnoc na Tionne and Cnoc an Chuillin from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy
  • Reeks, descent to Cnoc na Tionne - © William Mackesy
  • Looking south from Reeks main ridge - © William Mackesy
  • Reeks, Hag"s Glen from Cnoc na Tionne - © William Mackesy
  • Across Caragh valley toward the Reeks - © William Mackesy
  • Looking north from Valentia Island - © William Mackesy
  • Valentia Island - © William Mackesy
  • Valentia Island from Ballynahow Hill - © William Mackesy
  • Derryname beach - © William Mackesy

Key information: Iveragh Peninsula

  • The largest of Ireland's rugged south-western peninsulas includes Ireland's highest mountains, the peculiarly named MacGillycuddy's Reeks, and a host of other fine mountains and ridges. And lakes, waterfalls and gorgeous valleys; miles of superb coastline. 
  • A number of great walks, including the Kerry Way circuit of the peninsula

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating88.5
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest15.5
  • Human interest8
  • Charisma33
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating88.5
  • Note: Likely bad weather.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,040m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Reeks, Cnoc na Tionne and Cnoc an Chuillin from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

The Iveragh Peninsula is the largest of the rugged peninsulas which make up Ireland's far south-west, sitting at the heart of the region, south of the Dingle Peninsula and north of Beara

Iveragh includes Ireland's highest mountains, the peculiarly named MacGillycuddy's Reeks, and a host of other fine mountains and ridges. And lakes, waterfalls and gorgeous valleys; miles of superb coastline; and pleasing towns and fishing villages. 

Much of Iveragh is painfully beautiful on a good day: high rock-and-grass ridges with the sea ever-present from higher ground, all luminous in vaporous light… until a shower comes through. While some of the hills are rough in the extreme, there is a melting prettiness about the valleys, with their gurgling steams and frequent waterfalls.

The area has plenty of historical interest, particularly its prehistoric hill forts and stone circles; its castles and its many remarkable examples of early Christian architecture. Western Ireland had a crucial role in the survival and revival of Christianity in Western Europe during the turbulent Dark Ages, and the peninsula is sprinkled with evidence of this, and not just Skellig Michael.

Iveragh boasts colonies of seabirds, common species to rare ones (check out the puffins in early summer), choughs, corncrakes and hen harriers on land. It is no slouch on the mammalian marine life either.

The peninsula boasts some superb walking routes although, as we lament elsewhere, there is no general right of access to the countryside in Ireland, and no traditional footpaths/rights of way, so walking options are not as extensive as they might be. That said, you could easily spend a week here without feeling sated.

The great long-distance trail here, and one of Ireland’s finest routes, is the famously beautiful 214km Kerry Way, which circuits the peninsula. Follow old lanes and tracks through varied scenery: mountains, moorland and boggy slopes, to sheep-studded fields, to beaches and clifftops. Stay in traditional villages, enjoy the local ways and friendliness. There is a section of the Kerry Way near you wherever you are in the Iveragh, so you always have a fine day walking option at hand. Most of the Way is magnificent, so you can simply head for your nearest stretch. But, if you want to be choosey, our Kerry Way page has suggestions for the best sections.

The famous walking area here is MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, with Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain at 1,040m, the particular mountain that any keen walker wants to tackle but many days’ worth of other varied delights.

Another unforgettable area is beautiful Killarney National Park, with a selection of fabulous walks, lakesiders to an ancient hill track, to Torc Mountain and Purple and Tomies Mountains, hills with meltingly pretty views.

Other excellent walking includes:

  • Skellig Michael: a weird - and indeed wonderful - rock off the west of the Iveragh Peninsula, famous for the exceptionally interesting and dramatically sited early Christian monastic remains which are perched on its impossible flanks. A wander (or rather clamber) here is truly thrilling.
  • Bentee Hill: above Cahersiveen, for outstanding views of the north-west end of the peninsula and across to the Dingle Peninsula.
  • We love the look of the high ridge west of Ballaghbeama Gap – Mallaghanattin to Finnarargh to Knochnagantee to Coomavanniha, with its cliffs and corries and often narrow, airy ridges. How well pathed this is, is as yet unclear to us. Community comments requested!
  • Circuit Knochanaskill Hill west of Kenmare on quiet country lanes.

We would love to hear of more top walks: Community Suggestions Requested!

The South-west gets a lot of rain and wind, plus cloud/fog and winter snow on high ground. Take great care with wayfinding in foggy/mist/cloudy conditions, indeed the high ground isn’t much fun if you won’t be able to see! There is little shelter on the mountains, either from sun or rain. Be prepared, both mentally and with the right kit.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Broghnabinna, Black Valley - ©William Mackesy

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Reeks, Caher from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy...
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