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Possibly the best hike in Ireland

Posted by on July 22, 2018

After driving for miles through the beautiful Irish countryside, we were ready to stretch our legs.

The amazing landscape of Ireland beckoned us to explore it. We really wanted to go hiking in the spectacular green hills, but did not know where to go. We asked for recommendations at the Kenmare Tourist Office. One of the helpful ladies offered some suggestions for a day hike. A private reserve called Gleninchaquin Park looked promising, so we planned our next family adventure!

Since the day was already getting late, we decided to head for our next lodging to freshen up and get some dinner. We arrived at The Caha’s Bed and Breakfast Kenmare before dark and was greeted by the friendly owner. The Caha’s BnB is walking distance to downtown Kenmare, which was very convenient. After relaxing for a bit, we headed into town.

Mish really wanted to hear some good music, so we listened our way around town. Not surprisingly, we found several lively pubs with good music, enticing smells, and amiable conversation drifting out of them. We selected O’Donnabhain’s Townhouse. We made a good choice! The food, service, music, and atmosphere were all fabulous! We listened to some authentic Irish music as we ate our delicious meals and soaked in the Irishness of it all. This Irish pub life is addictive.

Well rested and fed, we headed out early the next morning for Gleninchaquin Park. Finding the park took a little effort. It is definitely off the beaten path, but well worth the trek. It is located 14 miles off the main road at the end of a very narrow and curvy gravel road. When we finally arrived, it took our breath away!

The park is at the end of a large coombe (that is Irish for shallow valley) on the northwest side of the Beara Peninsula in County Kerry. Flowing down the back wall of the coombe was a magnificent waterfall that fed a few lakes in the valley. The sides of the coombe were emerald green with rock outcroppings. Standing out against the green were the white fluffy shapes of the ubiquitous sheep grazing along the steep slopes. The whole scene was incredibly picturesque and serene.

We were greeted by a friendly docent who happened to be a member of the family who owned the park. She provided us with some background information and directions about the park. The entrance fee is 6 Euro for adults, 5 for students, and 15 for families, cash only (there is no ATM nearby). She also informed us that just yesterday, Ridley Scott helicoptered into the park with a guide to do a location check for an upcoming movie. If you do not know who Ridley Scott is, he is the science fiction guru that created such iconic films as the Alien movies, Blade Runner, and The Martian. Elijah and I are huge fans of his. We couldn’t help but speculate if he was looking to film the next installment of the Alien saga here. We are even more anxious to see the movie now. He and I were already excitedly picturing how the park would work for the film. Mish just laughed at us for being science fiction geeks.

Inspired and energized, we headed off on a trail into the park. Almost immediately we started to climb the wall of the coombe. The views were breathtaking. With each step up we were rewarded with a new and even better vista. After about two miles, we reached the top of the coombe and were awestruck with the view. Beyond the waterfall was a hidden high valley devoid of any human presence. It was otherworldly and hypnotically beautiful. I do not think I can describe the intense feeling we all had looking into it. I can see why Scott may want to film here. Elijah really wanted to explore further, but, unfortunately, time was not on our side and we were forced to break our gaze and head back down. Someday I want to come back and stay longer. Places like this are what make Ireland extremely special.

 

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