Through the High Passes

This is a fairly testing drive about 80 miles in total and the roads are narrow and steep, on the one side that is, but the views are out of this world and well worth the effort, just take your time and enjoy.

First off spend a pleasant evening at Kenmare and stay in one of the many inviting Hotels or B&B`s. The food is excellent, the atmosphere is amazing and the beds are welcoming.

Next morning after a good breakfast take the T65(N71) and follow ‘Killarney, Ring of Kerry’ to leave Kenmare, In about 1mile bear left on to the T66(N70) then follow the north shore of Kenmare River with views of the Caha Mountains to the left.

To the right the 1,1 86ft hills of Letter South and 107Oft Knockanaskill rise above the waters of the bay. After 5m from Kenmare pass the entrance to Dromore Castle on the left, and lm farther pass Droniore Wood Picnic Site on the left. In another I m cross Blackwater Bridge and continue alongside the bay.

After 7m pass another picnic site at Parknasalla Wood. Continue from here to Sneem along a tree-lined road, with glimpses of Kenmare River to the left. Approach Sneem with views of mountains which ring the town. This group is dominated by 2,155ft Coomcallee which rises to the west.

Cross the Sneem River by a narrow bridge and turn inland. Ascend along an afforested valley to the summit of a low pass, with Coomcallee on the right. Descend through wild, rocky scenery to rejoin Kenmare River. Views afforded by this stretch extend across the bay to the Slieve Miskrsh Mountains, which rise from the Scare Peninsula

Continue to Castle Cove, Situated beneath 1,786ft Eagles Hill; an unclassified road here leads to Staigue Fort . Follow the coast below the mountain to reach Caherdaniel Restored, 17th-c Derrynane House can be visited from here.

Ascend on the main road, and pass beneath 1,640ft Cahernageeha and 1,549ft Farraniaragh, Magnificent seaward views include Scariff and Deenish Islands, Continue to the Summit of Coomakista Pass, where Beenorourke rises to 1,017ft on the left.

Descend gradually to the small resort of Watervilie with magnificent views over Ballinskelllgs Bay and 1,350ft Bolus Head. Approach the town and pass Lough Currane on the right. Proceed to the north end of the town and bear left, then right. In 1mile reach New Chapel Cross and go forward on to an unclassified road ‘Ballaghisheen Glencar’, Follow the broad valley of the River Inny along a narrow but level road, with 1,639ff Foilclough in the distance to the left, Approach the head of the valley, with 1,632ft Caunoge to the left, and shortly reach a vantage point for views of 2,541ft Coomacarrea, 2,350ft Meenteog, and 2,258ft Colly.

The foothills of 2,250ft Knocknagantee and 2,245ft Knockmoyle rise to the right. Ascend past extensive woodland to the 1 ,000ft summit of Ballaghisheen Pass, between 1 538ff Knocknagapple and 1,804ft Knocknacusha Descend steeply through desolate bogland along a narrow road with several difficult bends, to the valley floor.

Continue for 4miles beyond the pass, cross the Caragh River at Sealalaw Sridge, and bear right. Follow the Ceragh Valley with the foothills of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks on the left, After l.5 miles turn right SP ‘Ballaghbeama Parknasilla’ and recross the Caragh River.

Ascend between towering rock faces, with 2,539ft Mullaghanattin on the right, to reach the 1,000ff summit of Ballaghbeama Gap. The 1 ,532ft summit on the left is part of Knockaunanattin Pass the road summit and descend along the valley of the River Kealduff, with 2,097ft Knocklornena ahead and Lough Brin to the left.

On reaching the valley floor, continue through forestry plantations and cross the river. After 1 m turn left for ‘Killarney Moll’s Gap’, and follow a wide valley with Knocklomena on the left, 2,091ff Boughil and 1,825ft Peakeen Mountain ahead, and the low hills of Knockanaskill and Letter South on the right. Climb to over 700ff and join the top end of the Finnihy Valley, with Boughil towering on the left.

Shortly pass little Lough Barfinnihy on the left, then skirt an unnamed, 1 254f hill for views of the Owenreagh Valley to the north. Meet the main road and turn right on to the T65(N7 1). Pass through Moll’s Gap, situated between the unnamed hill and 1,617ft Derrygarrjff at a height of over 900ft. Complete the drive by returning to Kenmare via a long, winding descent, which affords excellent views of Kenmare Bay and the surrounding mountains.

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