The Gap of Dunloe is a beautiful mountain pass located on the eastern side of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks near Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland.
This spectacular glaciated valley is best seen by foot so you can slowly take in the surrounding beauty, all the while getting some exercise. We parked our rental car at the free lot near Kate Kearney’s Cottage, walked right past the horse drawn traps (also known as jaunting cars), and into the glorious…
Gap of Dunloe
Within just a few minutes of walking, we came upon the arch bridge known as the ‘Wishing Bridge’, as wishes made while on the bridge are supposedly destined to come true.
The distance from Kate Kearney’s Cottage to Lord Brandon’s Cottage is close to 7 miles (11 km) with an elevation change of about 700 feet (200 m). If you park a car at one end and walk, you probably won’t want to walk the entire length and back. Many people loop back at the halfway point, while others arrange a pick-up on the other end. Several tour companies will drop you off at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and pick you up at the other end (Lord Brandon’s Cottage) later in the day.
You may even encounter people brave enough to drive the road end to end. This is certainly not the most popular method of exploring, as the road is extremely narrow (only wide enough for one car) with sharp curves and extremely limited places to pull off. Because the road was only recently paved, the traditions of walking or riding in a horse drawn trap still win out as the most favored ways to experience the Gap of Dunloe.
Whether you walk or cycle (another popular way to see the ‘Gap’) be sure to watch out for horse droppings!
The low hanging clouds during our visit made for a magical experience, and because of the abundance of rainfall in this region, the surrounding fields and mountains were exceptionally lush and green!
With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to carry an umbrella or water resistant outerwear when exploring the Gap of Dunloe. You never know when the skies above will open up!
During our (July) week in Ireland, we felt fortunate to only have small showers each day, not interfering too much with our plans to explore the beautiful countryside.
Horses and sheep are plentiful along the route, so plan to stop and make a few new friends along the way!
Within the Gap of Dunloe are five lakes (north to south): Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough. These lakes are connected by the River Loe.
Although we didn’t even make it to the halfway point, we were delighted with what we saw and would recommend the Gap of Dunloe for your next visit to the Emerald Isle.
If you visit on a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday in July or August, after your walk you’ll be privy to nightly entertainment with traditional and costumed dancers at Kate Kearney’s Cottage!
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