We have had a very cold and wet January thus far which has made getting out cycling in Kerry difficult. That being said if you want to remain active in Ireland throughout the Winter then getting a little wet and dirty is all part of the fun.
Why am I cycling the Gap in the Winter?
I have recently committed to taking part in the Killarney Adventure Race on March 14th so I really need to get some miles into my legs over the next few weeks. With this in mind, and after convincing my lovely wife Janet to accompany me, we decided that Sunday was going to be the first day of our new training programme.
How I smiled when I awoke on Sunday morning to find bright winter sunshine beaming through the curtains and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect weather to hit the cycle route
Where do we start the cycle?
We quickly loaded our bikes onto the car and started out for Killarney which is a short 30 min drive from my home in Tralee in County Kerry. Thankfully when we arrived at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, in Killarney National Park. As we drove along Muckross Road the sun was still shining and as you will see from my photo’s it was looking spectacular in the winter sunshine.
This route is one we recommend that any of our cyclists experience if they have a free day in Killarney. You can also cycle through the Gap on the last day of our Ring of Kerry BIKE tour. You do have the option in the Summer to cycle in through the Gap of Dunloe. You can take a boat trip through the famous Lakes of Killarney arriving at Ross Castle, a short cycle back to Killarney town centre.
It also makes for a fantastic day trip from Killarney. You can rent a bike and pedal the day away. You will get to see the Iveragh Peninsula from a different perspective to driving.
The Black Valley
So, we made it to the top of the Gap and descended into the Black Valley. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s actually one of the most beautiful places in Ireland and somewhere you really feel you have escaped the everyday “rat race”.
The name is derived from the fact that homes in the Valley were not connected to the national electricity grid until 1976! As you can see here the views as you descend along narrow roads into the valley are out of this world.
Lord Brandon’s Cottage
We cycled onward to Lord Brandon’s cottage, the hunting lodge for Lord Brandon. This title was given to the Right Honorable and Reverend William Crosbie (1771 to 1832), also known as the Baron of Brandon, who worked as Rector of Castleisland.
He was well respected as a warm, generous person and was known as “a man of superior order of mind and of great literary attainments”. For much of the last twenty years of his life he lived in his lakeside cottage in Killarney now called Lord Brandon’s Cottage.
Top of the Gap
After a quick photo stop we set off again to climb back up to where we had descended from. The climb is challenging but enjoyable and you will certainly need to stop to get photographs, thus making convenient rest stops! The view looking down towards Lord Brandon’s cottage makes the climb much easier as you admire the lakes in the distance.
The Home stretch
After a quick stop at the top of our climb to capture the Gap of Dunloe in all its Glory, we set of back towards Kate Kearney’s Cottage for a well-earned cup of coffee.
I hope to get out to more of my favourite locations around the country over the coming months. So keep checking here for a first-hand view of Ireland in the winter & spring.