As I was Going over the Cork and Kerry Mountains……
Recently I posted on the spectacular Killarney National Park. Though the blog only saw the light of day in December it related to a trip completed in June.
Now six months later I had the notion to revisit these mountains. Storm Caroline had dumped snow all over Ireland so I wanted to see the National Park covered in white. In this regard I was disappointed. It seemed the show was restricted to the north and the very highest mountains,. So I didn’t linger along the road from Killarney to Moll’s Gap, the road I covered in my previous blog (Part 1). It certainly put on a different face. Firstly hardly a tourist. I was the only car at the Ladies View. Indeed I was almost the only car on the road. No buses and this time my brakes worked.
Funny how you miss things. But last time I didn’t see the ruins of the castellated Musgrave Barracks of the Royal Irish Constabulary right on the edge of the road. The lush green forests I talked about last time were not so welcoming with the now leafless trees. There was still in many places the carpet of mosses covering the land, that impressed me so much in June. Sometimes as if a green billiard cloth had been draped over the rocks
I decided to explore the Black Valley and the Gap of Dunloe which runs up the western side of the National Park and maybe head into the higher mountains. Good decision but unrealistic timewise. It was bitterly cold and and walking was not particularly inviting but it was truly spectacular even from the roadside and I just kept stopping so I ultimately ran out of light. Just past Moll’s Gap on the inland road to Sneem (Not the Ring of Kerry) you see a small single lane road to the right. No sign of any indication where it actually went. But as it seemed to be the only way to head into the mountains and with no Google, I took it. The road crosses the broad glacial valley framed to the north with the snow capped ranges of the MacGillycuddy Reeks before heading back east and then cutting sharply back up to the north and over the ridge towards the Gap of Dunloe.
This next series of photos were taken on the Black Valley Road. Beautiful interplay of light.
This is my kind of country. Wild, rocky, desolate and seemingly nothing living here except sheep with identifying patches of pink and purple. The Gap itself is a very impressive break in the sandstone hills caused by a glacial breach. It has been a famed tourist route since Victorian times. Also easy to see why the area is so popular with rock climbers. We follow along the valley of the River Loe and pass a string of lakes crossed by a number of single arch stone bridges. The entrance to the largest of the lakes is guarded by by two giant boulders through which the road passes. This locality known as The Pike seems little changed since the 19th century.
Just the occasional car today but I can well imagine the chaos on this one lane road with the summer tourist traffic, cars, vans, bikes, walkers and pony traps.
Go in Winter!