June 2017 is the perfect time for a walking tour in the green hills of Ireland with Adventure Women. Walking (or “turas siúlóide” in Gaelic) is a time-honored passion in Ireland! This Irish women’s tour is the perfect way to experience the mercurial moors, relish the beauty of the mountains and explore the rocky coastal headlands of the lovely Misty Isle.
Trip Organizer: http://adventurewomen.com
Dates: June 11 – June 19, 2017
Activities: Archeology, Boat, Cruising, Cultural Exploration, Hiking, Historical Sites, National Park, Photography, Sightseeing
Price: $4,595 ($800 deposit)
County Kerry showcases the Emerald Isle at its most enchanting and mythical best. It has scenery as varied as it is beautiful. The Irish hiking trails take you from bogs and ancient woodlands to stunning coastal landscapes. You’ll dodge sheep and ponies crossing your path, catch glimpses of the rare red deer, and explore Ireland’s Franciscan abbeys and druid stone circles.
The spectacular Irish landscapes that we’ll hike through are in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Killarney National Park, in County Kerry. Home to rugged mountainous country and the highest mountain range in Ireland (Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Range at 3,600 feet), the world famous lakes of Killarney nestle at the foot of these verdant mountains. Where the mountains sweep down to the lake shores, their lower slopes are covered in woodlands, and this distinctive combination of mountains, lakes, woods and waterfalls in Ireland under her ever changing skies gives the area a special scenic beauty.
You’ll stay in picturesque villages and enjoy “a pint” in the local pub, while listening to traditional Irish music. But the best part of any trip to Ireland is meeting the friendly, unhurried Irish people who show a deep respect for nature – a respect that comes from working the land for generations – and who welcome foreign travelers like us as visitors, not tourists.
If you enjoy scenic hiking, excellent, historic accommodations and delicious cuisine, spectacular scenery, rare flora and fauna, entertaining Irish pubs and music, and the warmth and hospitality that only the Irish exude, then this is the Irish hiking trip for you!
Sunday, June 11, 2017 – Depart from the United States to Shannon, Ireland
Monday, June 12 – Morning Arrival in Shannon, Ireland/ Transfer to the Dingle Peninsula
This morning you’ll arrive at the airport in Shannon, Ireland. You guide, Gillian Arthur, will meet you at 12:00 noon for the group pick up and transfer to your first hotel.
From the airport, you’ll travel to the Dingle Peninsula. Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, it is on the westernmost tip of Ireland, and all of Europe. Here Irish is still spoken on a daily basis. This is why the Dingle Peninsula is often called “pure Ireland.” Dingle feels so traditionally Irish because it’s part of a Gaeltacht, a region where the government subsidizes the survival of the Irish language and culture.
The Dingle Peninsula is wild, deserted, and simply breathtaking in many places, an ancient landscape of archeological wonders: prehistoric ring forts and beehive huts, early Christian chapels, crosses and holy wells, picturesque hamlets and abandoned villages, and monuments left behind by Bronze Age settlers, Dark Age monks, English landlords, and Hollywood directors!
The charming town of Dingle, an active fishing port set in a bowl of green mountains, looks out over Dingle Bay to the Blasket Islands. It is chock full of friendly pubs where live traditional music plays. Another regular visitor to Dingle’s Gulf Stream-warmed waters is Fungi, a solitary Bottlenose Dolphin known for interacting with humans since 1984. He is the town’s unofficial mascot. Popular area attractions include the beaches, Mount Brandon and Ballydavid and Ballyferriter villages, and driving the area is like a trip through an open-air museum!
Arriving in the town of Dingle, take your first walk out to the mouth of Dingle harbor and the lighthouse on the peninsula. If you’re lucky, we might see Fungi! In the evenings you’ll have opportunities to listen to the finest traditional musicians in local pubs. (2 hour walk)
Your hotel for the next two nights is the Greenmount House Bed & Breakfast
Greenmount House is a 4 star luxury guesthouse overlooking Dingle town and harbor, in County Kerry in the South-West of Ireland. Each guest room has a full bathroom, large sitting area, direct dial phones, TV, tea/coffee making facilities, and wonderful views.
Warm fires welcome you back to the comfortable guest lounges. The lounges are ideal places to relax after a long day of hiking. Breakfast is served in the conservatory with a fabulous view. The Curran family is famous for their hotel breakfasts.
Tuesday, June 13 – Hike on Great Blasket Island
Take a scenic ocean drive this morning to visit the Great Blasket Island Center. With stunning views of the wild Atlantic coast and islands at the halfway point of the Slea Head Drive, the Blasket Center is a fascinating heritage and cultural center/museum honoring the unique community who lived on the remote Blasket Islands until their evacuation in 1953.
The Center details the community’s struggle for existence, their language and culture, folklore and customs, and their extraordinary literary legacy – with classics such as The Islandman, Twenty Years A-Growing and Peig.
Board your ferry for a short ride to the island and a six mile walk along its ridge, with spectacular sea views all around. This is the largest of the Blasket islands. Over 1,100 acres of unspoiled largely mountainous terrain, the Great Blasket Island is approximately 4 miles long by 1/2 mile wide, and it is the largest of the Blasket Islands, which lie scattered about off the western end of the Dingle peninsula. Occupied from pre-history, the island overlooks the location where a number of the Spanish Armada ships were wrecked.
The small farming and fishing community exceeded a population of 150 in the early 20th century, but had dwindled to a small number when the island was vacated in 1953. The old village above the Trá Bán (White Strand) is situated on the north-eastern side of the island, facing the mainland and Slea Head. Great Blasket has a rich cultural heritage, with up to twenty books having been written by islanders describing their everyday life and conditions.
Late afternoon you are free to explore Dingle town itself, with its local crafts, cafes, pubs and shops.
(4 hour walk)
Breakfast and Lunch
Overnight Greenmount House Bed & Breakfast
Wednesday, June 14 – Climb Ballydavid Head/Transfer to Portmagee
One of the finest areas of the whole Dingle Peninsula is the western side of the Brandon Ridge: Ballydavid Head. Spend this morning climbing Ballydavid Head (950’ climb), through heath and purple moor grass to reach a fine vantage point with expansive views of the surrounding hills, fields, mountains, beaches, seas, and cliffs. This area could be described as a “photographer’s paradise”.
The Dingle peninsula has one of the highest concentrations of archaeological features in Europe, some dating back to the Mesolithic period, and after lunch you’ll wander through an array of archaeological monuments which dot the route.
Leave Dingle this afternoon and travel to the pretty coastal village of Portmagee, just off the Ring of Kerry, one of Ireland’s most famous scenic drives.
(3 hour walk)
Breakfast and Dinner
Your base for the next two nights is a small maritime inn in the village of Portmagee. Many rooms have sea views, and the inn boasts an excellent restaurant, with its specialty of locally caught fish, crab and lobster.
Even more interesting is that this hotel was involved in the filming of the new Star Wars VII, The Force Awakens! Lots of the magic happened at this hotel as the little town of Portmagee was awash with film crews, reporters, and Star Wars fans. The pre-production site was at the Moorings, and it was at their bar where Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) poured his pint of Guinness! Read More
Thursday, June 15 – The Magical Skellig Islands and Star Wars!
NOTE: This day is optional and weather dependent. If the sea is too rough for the optional excursion to Skellig Michael, you will visit Valentia Island instead.
A forty-minute ferry ride takes you to the mysterious and enchanting Skellig islands. These floating pyramids of sandstone have been home to some of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland. They also provide sanctuary to fantastic numbers of birdlife in the area. Passing close by Little Skellig, thousands of nesting Gannets contribute to the cacophony of seabird calls. Shortly afterwards we land on Skellig Michael, which rises to 714ft.
The climb to the summit takes you past hundreds of Puffins, Kittiwakes, and other seabirds. Near its summit nestles the well-preserved remains of its 6th century monastery, with its beehive-shaped huts, tiny stone oratory, and walled garden. Despite Viking raids from 812 AD onwards, the monastic community survived until the 12th century.
BUT WAIT!! It was at the top of Skellig Michael that the last scene of the new Star Wars movie was filmed! The island made the perfect hideaway for an ageing Jedi knight, the place where Luke Skywalker will hold the new Jedi Academy, the future of the Jedi Order.
The remains of the monastery and most of the island were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
(2 hour walk)
Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Overnight at The Moorings
Friday, June 16 – The Ring of Kerry
Today you head to the Ring of Kerry, a panoramic road that surrounds the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland´s Southwest with a length of nearly 100 miles. The loop road mostly leads along the coast through a spectacular, almost mystic landscape; the majestic mountains in the hinterland and an unbelievable coast line; the lakescapes around Killarney; beautiful beaches at Rossbeigh and Derrynane; untouched nature in the western peninsula; and magnificent panoramic views over the Atlantic.
The Iveragh Peninsula also allows a deep insight into ancient Ireland with a great variety of stone forts, ogham stones and standing stones.
Driving the Ring of Kerry, you’ll explore some of Kerry’s most famous coastal landscapes. Stop along the way for a walk on the beach at Derrynane, famous for its golden sands but also as the home of Ireland’s liberator Daniel O’Connell.
In 1829 he won Catholic emancipation for all Catholics under British rule. Visit his home and gardens during your walk. After lunch, head inland for Kenmare, a pretty 19th century market town with a reputation for good food.
Your base for the next three nights is a boutique Bed and Breakfast in the middle of the town, the Brook Lane Hotel.
(3 hour walk)
Breakfast and Dinner
The Brook Lane is a family run 4-star boutique hotel. Its staff are friendly and local, the design is contemporary, hospitality is instinctive, and the atmosphere is easygoing. And it’s all just a short walk from the pretty town of Kenmare on the Wild Atlantic Way. The perfect location to explore Killarney! Read More
Saturday, June 17 – Muckross House
Today you begin your exploration of Killarney National Park with a visit to the 19th century Muckross House, the ancestral home of the Herbert family. This 19th century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes, famed world wide for their splendor and beauty.
The principal rooms are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the 19th century landowning class. In the basement, one can imagine the busy bustle of the servants as they went about their daily chores.
A stroll through the lovely gardens starts a six-mile walk along lake shores to the unusual yew woodland of the Muckross peninsula, one of only three large yew woods in Europe. Take a boat ride across the lake to return to our starting point.
This evening you are free for dinner to find a great restaurant or pub in town, or stay to eat at the hotel.
(3 hour walk)
Breakfast and Lunch
Overnight at the Brook Lane Hotel
Sunday, June 18 – Hiking Old Kenmare Rd. on the Kerry Way
Today you will hike the Old Kenmare Rd., one of the most popular walks in Ireland, and part of the Kerry Way. As you hike, be alert for wildlife such as deer, eagles, and the elusive pine marten. Ascend to Windy Gap, at a little over 1,000 feet, the highest point of the walk.
Here you will have spectacular views of Killarney National Park, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the Lakes of Killarney, Kenmare Bay and the surrounding countryside. Descend beside the Owengarriff River on ancient path and through oak forests, before arriving at the dramatic Torc Waterfall.
At the end of the hike, meet your vehicle and transfer back to Kenmare for dinner and your last evening together.
(4 hour walk)
Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Overnight at the Brook Lane Hotel
Monday, June 19 – Transfer Back to Shannon for Departure
This morning you will be dropped off at the airport in Shannon at 11:30am for your return flights home. Say goodbye to your friends from Adventure Women.
- 8 days/7 nights with lodging in twin-bedded, double-occupancy rooms with private baths in fine hotels and family run inns
- Transportation and all transfers in Ireland, beginning from, and ending at, Shannon Airport, Ireland
- Fully guided walks each day with Gillian Arthur, our Italian-based guide
- All luggage transfers
- Meals specified in the daily itinerary including 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 5 dinners
- All gratuities for meals covered in the itinerary
- Round-trip airfare to Shannon, Ireland
- Meals not specified in the itinerary
- Optional Skellig Michael excursion by boat (additional 60 Euros)
- All drinks, including alcoholic beverages, wine, and beer
- A recommended tip to your main guide is $100 per person, assistant guide is $50 per person
Adventure Women is a women-owned and women-run adventure travel company founded by adventure travel pioneer, Susan Eckert. Adventure Women operates tours exclusively for women. We run exceptional and unique adventures that we hand-craft with women in mind. Collectively, we have been to more than 65 countries around the world. We know what it takes to put together an extraordinary travel experience from start to finish.