Kerry’s Large 5: Tackling Eire’s latest journey journey problem

 It is solely once I arrive that the dimensions of my endeavor dawns on me.

Over the following three days, I’ll try to change into one of many first folks to finish the Reeks District’s Large 5 – a brand new assortment of the largest, greatest and most thrilling out of doors adventures Eire has to supply.

The place and what’s the Reeks District? Launched as a Kerry tourism model final yr, it is a compact area that hugs Castlemaine Harbour from Inch to Rossbeigh. Assume lengthy sandy seashores, placid lakes and meandering rivers, all centred across the magnificent MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. Phrase’s getting out, too. Tough Guides named the district one in every of its high six locations to go to in 2019.

Kayaking at Caragh Lake

Kayaking at Caragh Lake

The Large 5 encourages guests to immerse themselves on this wild panorama quite than simply have a look at it by means of a automotive window. The problem consists of three water-based and two land adventures – full them inside a yr and you will get a certificates; full them in 5 days and your title goes onto the Large 5 Wall of Fame.

Problem accepted!

1. Climb Eire’s highest mountain


Piaras Kelly of Kerry Climbing

The primary problem is the largest one. Actually, an ascent of Carrauntoohil, at 1,039m Eire’s highest mountain. And whereas guests from loftier elements of the world could dismiss them as mere hills, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks are severe mountains. With steep, rocky slopes and unpredictable climate, Carrauntoohil is not to be taken calmly.

In Cronin’s Yard, the standard start line for a climb, we meet information Piaras Kelly of Kerry Climbing. In addition to an expert information, Piaras is a member of Kerry Mountain Rescue and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Entry Discussion board. With over 200 ascents of Carrauntoohil a yr, it is truthful to say that nobody is aware of the mountain higher.

The climb begins gently following a comparatively flat monitor up the valley. Stopping commonly for breaks, Piaras offers us an enchanting perception into the historical past, geology, wildlife of the mountain. Forward lies the toughest a part of the route, the Satan’s Ladder – a large gully full of unfastened scree and huge boulders that takes a direct line up the steep slope. It is thought of the simplest manner up the mountain, however is not any pushover and I want to make use of my arms in loads of spots. Nonetheless, the climbing is absorbing and it is not lengthy earlier than we arrive on the flat, grassy saddle.

Stand up paddle boarding at dusk
Stand up paddle boarding at dusk

Rise up paddle boarding at nightfall

From this level onwards the going is simpler and we slog up the broad ridge to the summit. On the high, we’re greeted with a staggering view, taking in a panorama of seashores, rivers, lakes and mountains.

After an compulsory summit selfie and a fast snack we begin the descent. Piaras’s warning that we’re solely on the midway mark rings in our ears, so we take it slowly. Descending by way of the Zig Zag route quite than the Satan’s Ladder is an extended however safer descent and presents nice views throughout the valley to the north face. From the valley ground, it is a simple stroll again to Cronin’s Yard.

I’ve climbed Carrauntoohil various occasions, however by no means within the firm of an expert information. Piaras’s intimate data and love of the mountain provides an entire new dimension to the expertise.

How one can do it:

Kerry Climbing ( can tailor the path to match your health and expertise. Plan for no less than six hours and a distance of 11km.

David Flanagan midway through his 90km cycle
David Flanagan midway through his 90km cycle

David Flanagan halfway by means of his 90km cycle

2. Surf Inch seashore


Views throughout Inch seashore

After an amazing sleep and a wholesome breakfast at Kingston’s, we set off from Killorglin for a busy day tackling the Large 5’s three water-based adventures.

First up is browsing on Inch, an enormous seashore which stretches out into Dingle Bay for nearly 6km. It is a great venue for these new to browsing, and right this moment’s situations are good, with small, clear waves and a light-weight breeze.

Right here, we meet teacher Tim from Kingdom Waves Surf College and squeeze into thick wetsuits. Down on the water’s edge, Tim takes us by means of some primary water security ideas earlier than exhibiting us how one can place ourselves on the board and paddle for a wave.

With the idea out of the way in which, it is time to hit the water. I wade out till chest-deep, flop onto the board and, after quite a lot of failed makes an attempt, handle to appropriately time my paddling in order that I catch a wave. Mendacity on the board, the feeling of being picked up and carried at pace in direction of the shore is each exhilarating and immediately addictive.

As soon as we have all caught just a few waves from a inclined place, Tim calls us out to take us by means of the method of standing up. The thought is to ‘pop’ from a mendacity place onto each toes concurrently, a manoeuvre that I discover difficult sufficient on dry land… not to mention on a breaking wave.

The following 20 minutes cross in a blur of spectacular wipeouts and one wonderful micro-second by which I handle to face on the board. Rising from the water, I am completely exhausted and I really feel like I’ve ingested no less than a pint of saltwater. However I am buzzing and might’t wait to get out once more.

Cycling the Ring of the Reeks
Cycling the Ring of the Reeks

Biking the Ring of the Reeks

How one can do it:

Kingdom Waves Surf College ( presents browsing classes, board and wetsuit rent from its base on Inch seashore.

three. Paddle the size of Caragh Lake


Kayaking at Caragh Lake

With our hair nonetheless moist from browsing, we’re on to the following of the Large 5, a kayaking journey on Caragh Lake. The 6km lengthy lake lies just a few kilometres southwest of Killorglin with the mighty Reeks as a backdrop.

On the roadside, we meet Rhys Llewellyn and Enda Prendergast from Cappanalea Out of doors Training and Coaching Centre to get kitted out. As our sea kayaks are steady and the water calm we do not want wetsuits – only a spraydeck to create a water-resistant seal across the kayak’s cockpit, a water-resistant jacket and a buoyancy support.

After a security briefing, we get into our boats and push off into the reedy water on the southern finish of the lake. The slim sea kayak feels slightly wobbly at first, however I quickly chill out and discover my rhythm, having fun with the feeling of gliding simply throughout the nonetheless water.

A mild breeze carries with it a rain bathe, however we paddle on, watching the sunshine change on the encircling hills. The wind drops as we enter the widest a part of the lake and, stopping to regroup, we sit gently bobbing as Enda encourages us to absorb the silence, remarking that it’s extremely uncommon for the lake to be so nonetheless. All of a sudden a braying donkey shatters the quiet and all of us burst into laughter, impressed with Enda’s timing.

As we paddle alongside, Enda inform us what Reeks District means to him: “It is journey with out the crowds. There are elements of the area the place for those who go for a stroll it is nearly as if you’re the primary particular person ever there.”

How one can do it:

The 6km paddle throughout Caragh Lake takes between one and two hours relying on the wind. Cappanalea Out of doors Training and Coaching Centre (, offers kayaks, gear and a information.

four. Night time sup on Lough Cloon


Rise up paddle boarding at nightfall

After an incredible dinner at Ard Na Sidhe ( overlooking Caragh Lake, when wise folks retire to the bar for a drink, we’re taken on the Large 5’s most uncommon problem – Stand-up Paddleboarding at night time.

We head deep into the center of the Reeks to Cloon Lake on the sting of Kerry’s Darkish Sky Reserve. Surrounded by the Atlantic and tall mountains, it presents a novel alternative to watch the night time sky free from mild air pollution.

Right here, we observe a community of tiny boreens to the lake shore, the place the lads from Cappanalea have gear prepared for us. Stand-up Paddleboarding, often known as SUP, includes a board just like a surfboard, however wider and extra steady. Because the title suggests, the thought is to face up and manoeuvre utilizing a protracted, single-bladed paddle.

Again in a wetsuit for the second time that day, I wade out and step very tentatively on to the board. It is extra steady than I count on and after a couple of minutes I’ve constructed up the arrogance to paddle out into deeper water.

Sadly, the sky overhead is cloudy. As we paddle across the lake, nonetheless, we’re handled to the spectacular sight of the complete moon illuminating the encircling peaks.

Again on dry land and in heat garments afterwards, standing overlooking the lake with a glass of sizzling port in hand, I can not assist however really feel slightly proud and really glad that I swapped the sofa for a paddle board.

How one can do it:

Cappanalea Out of doors Training and Coaching Centre will set you up with every thing you could expertise the Darkish Sky Reserve from a paddle board.

5. Cycle the Ring of the Reeks


David Flanagan halfway by means of his 90km cycle

The ultimate day of our Large 5 problem dawns slightly overcast and there’s a mild drizzle as we meet our information and help driver for the day, Jay Scully And Leif Winchester from Trailflow Biking Adventures. Forward lies the Ring of the Reeks, a 90km cycle route that takes in three of essentially the most scenic mountain passes within the nation.

Heading south from Killorglin, we heat up on some rolling hills earlier than the primary of the day’s large climbs – Ballaghbeama. The street climbs gently in direction of a wall of mountains, however on the final second swings left to disclose a slim cross. Because the steep rocky partitions shut in, it takes an enormous effort to maintain the pedals turning… I nearly handle to achieve the highest with out strolling.

After a clean descent on contemporary tarmac, it is not lengthy earlier than I am heading uphill once more. The second climb of the day, Moll’s Hole, is not as steep as Ballaghbeama so I can sit again and benefit from the view. After a fast sandwich right here, we drop down into the distant Black Valley. Descending to the valley ground, we observe the course of a mountain stream by means of a panorama lined with slabs of purple sandstone and scattered pockets of woodland.


Biking the Ring of the Reeks

Forward lies the ultimate problem, the climb into the Hole of Dunloe. Despite tiring legs, we push laborious to the highest of the cross the place we’re met with an incredible view down the glacial valley. Lifted by the spectacular environment, we swoop down and out of the mountains. One last pit cease and, powered by espresso and cake, we type a peloton worthy of the Tour de France and blast again to Killorglin.

How one can do it: The Ring of Reeks is 90km, so permit a full day. Trailflow Biking Adventures ( provide guided excursions and bike rent.

How one can do it

David was a visitor of the Reeks District ( Particular person actions begin from €30pp, with a package deal bundling all 5 and 4 nights’ B&B from €529pp, primarily based on 4 sharing. The Large 5 may be self-guided, however contributors should have appropriate ranges of kit and proficiency.

You’ll be able to decide up a Large 5 passport from the Reeks District customer centre in Killorglin, have adventures ticked off by taking part journey corporations or log them on Komoot, the Large 5’s official monitoring app.

Learn extra:

Kerry like an area – 50 issues to do in Eire’s ‘nation inside a county’

Weekend Journal

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