Cycling Ring of Kerry
Cycling The Ring of Kerry attracts a great number of visitors to Sneem each year to experience its 180km of magnificent scenery. Most cyclists recommend riding in an anti-clockwise direction i.e. the same as the coach tours.
The annual Ring of Kerry Cycle Challenge takes place on the first Saturday in July. A group from Sneem takes part annually, completing the loop in about 8 hours, starting and finishing in the village.
If this sounds like too much of a challenge, it is a route that rewards if you take your time. Why not spend a few days enjoying the journey while staying in a different village each night? You'll encounter plenty of attractions along the way, making for a great holiday.
Beginning Your Ring of Kerry Cycle in Sneem
Starting out from Sneem in an anticlockwise direction, you'll ride east towards Kenmare. The earlier you set off on your cycle, the better, as the roads will be quieter then.
Cycling Sneem to Kenmare - 26km relatively flat section of the Ring of Kerry
The Sneem to Kenmare stage of the Ring of Kerry cycle is 26km and is relatively flat because it skirts the coastline of Kenmare Bay. You will pass by Parknasilla and the small village of Tahilla before reaching some wonderful stretches with views of Kemare Bay and The Beara Peninsula. It's worth getting off your bike and having a look at the lovely Blackwater Bridge with the Blackwater river flowing well below. When you reach the road junction at the outskirts of Kenmare, you can to turn right to visit the town itself. Kenmare is such a nice town that it would be a shame not to at least complete a loop of its triangle main streets.
Kenmare to Molls Gap - 10km First of two main climbs on Ring of Kerry
Returning to the aforementioned junction, you turn left to continue your cycle to Molls Gap. This section is one of the two main hills on the Ring of Kerry, with fantastic mountain and valley views near the top. The good news, however, is that the road with a height gain of 250m to the top is winding and as a result the cycle gradient is not too steep.
Molls Gap to Killarney - 23km mostly descending
From Molls Gap to Killarney you enter into one of the most beautiful regions in Ireland. The Magilicuddy Reeks, Ireland's tallest mountain range and the Black Valley to your left. Ahead you will be cycling through Killarney National Park with the Torc Waterfall and Muckross Estate the main attractions before reaching Killarney.
From Killarney to Killorglin and Glenbeigh - 35km mostly flat
Having spent your desired amount of time in Killarney,Kerry's tourism capital, the section to Glenbeigh is flat and relatively uneventful. Upon reaching Glenbeigh, a detour to the beautifu Rossbeigh beach might be in order.
Glenbeigh to Caherciveen - 26km mixed section
Beautiful views across the bay to the Dingle Peninsula to your right and Drung Hill, Beenmore and Been Hill Mountains to your left are the feature of the section. When you reach Kells, I hear the Kells Bay Fern Garden is well worth a visit and is on my personal list of things to do. Between Kells and Caherciveen is dominated by Knocknadobar mountain with its Pilgrim Path, a lovely hillwalking trail if you've brought your boots!
Caherciveen to Waterville 16.5km mixed section depending on route chosen
When leaving Caherciveen you have a number of route options depending if your time allows.
Option A 16.5KM - Stay on main Ring of Kerry Route.
Option B - Cycle 5k to to Velentia Ferry terminal and board the ferry to Knightstown on Valentia Island. When here, visit the tourist office for information on the Tetrapod tracks, Valentia Slate Quarry, Valentia Lighthouse, Bray Head Walk, Geokaun Viewing point and The Skellig Experience. You could easily spend a a full day visiting all these Valentia Island attractions and it would be a day well spent. Knightstown to Portmagee is 8KM. In Portmagee it's possible to take an Eco Boat trip aroud the UNESCO preserved Skellig Michael and Little Skellig islands.
Option C - From main Ring of Kerry Route, take right turn to the signposted Skellig Ring. This will bring you to Portmagee 16KM, avoiding Valentia Island.
Option B & C From Portmagee to Waterville via Skellig Ring Route and Ballinskelligs - 30KM.
The Skellig Ring is an extension to the Ring of Kerry Route and it's westerly section is a natural wonder treasure trove. Highlights here include:
- The Kerry Cliffs, which are taller than the Cliffs of Moher;
- Glen Pier
- St Finán's Bay and Beach
- Bolus Head Loop Walk
- Ballinskelligs Blue Flag Beach
- Skelligs Chocolate Factory
Waterville to Derrynane - 13km second of two main climbs on Ring of Kerry
This section of the Ring of Kerry Cycle features the second of the two large hill climbs from Waterville to mountain pass at Coomakishta. The hill involves a 200m heigh tgain but agin it's not to challenging due to the winding road. Spectacular views abound, steep mountain wall to your left and sea view to your right. Below you is An Lothar Stone Fort, which dates back to the 9th century.
Spectacular views are your reward for reaching Coomakista Pass. Upon reaching this point, you are 200m above sealevel with wonderful views of Scarrif Island, Derrynane Estate and the Caha Mountain on the Beara peninsula. What better place could there be for a rest after the hill climb!
Now prepare for a fabulous descent back to sea level and towards Derrynane. Past the Scariff Inn pub you will see a turning to the right signposted for Derrynane.
Derrynane to Sneem - 23km mixed section
Derrynane is a magical spot, full of history and beautiful beachfront envirornment. This is the home of Ireland's Liberator Daniel O'Connell, after whom Dublin's O'Connell Street is named. One could easily spend a day or more exploring Derrynane's wonders. Firstly for some refreshment I recommend the cafe at Derrynane House and Gardens. You can visit the Derrynane House iteself and learn all about Daniel O'Connell and Ireland during his lifetime. Derrynane Beach is a blue flag beach and one of the most beautiful beaches in Kerry and indeed Ireland. It will be hard not to be enticed in for a swim.
Abbey Island, The Derrynane Mass Path Loop Walk, The Seashore nature trail and Keating's bar near the pier are a few of the attactions of Derrynane. I also recommend the local horseriding and tasty seafood in the Blindpiper Bar & Restaraunt.
Climbing back on your bike, your next stop is the small colourful village of Caherdaniel. From here, the road will bring you through Castlecove and to a number of popular and beautiful beaches. Why not pack some pack a travel towel and swim suit to enjoy a quick dip? Furthermore, if you've built up a thirst, The Black Shop Pub in Castlecove and O'Carroll's Cove and Beach Bar are great destinations.
As you pass the signpost for the White Strand Beach you have only 13KM remaining to finish the Ring of Kerry Cycle. However, one innocuous looking climbs remains between the turn for Gleesk Pier and Sneem itself. It has forced many a hardy cyclist off his/her bike to walk. I'm told it's got to do with the bog road, that makes this such a challenge. Like all good challenging climbs, slow and steady will get you to the top, from where it's pretty much down hill to the end in Sneem.
At Álaind Lodges B&B Sneem, we provide secure storage for bicycles and packed lunches on request. If you want to ride the Ring of Kerry, book your hotel in Sneem b&b accommodation with us directly for the best rates. You can also rent a bike in Sneem for day trips to, for example, The White Strand or Derrynane.
Annual Kerry Cycling Events
The Ring of Kerry Cycle is on Saturday 4th July and the Beara Cycle takes place on SATURDAY MAY 23rd. Due to cycling's popularity both annual events sell out in a very short time.
However, the organisers have reserve lists in the event that registered entrants cancel.
Of course, cyclists are most welcome at Álaind Lodges. While you're getting resting ahead of your next day's cycling, we'll securely store your bikes.