WE immediately see The Kerry Way signed on the right, but pass the stile (we will emerge here at the end of the walk) and continue down the quiet Rossdohan byroad. After 0.5km, we reach the attractive view of Kenmare Bay (aka Kenmare River), the blue sea, perhaps with swans, and the Caha Mountains rising majestically on the Beara Peninsula on the other shore.
Tooth Mountain and Lackabane would be the highest scalps in view, both approximately 600m, with the occasional white-painted house sprinkled like sugar cubes on the hills that rise up from the sea. On clear days, Hungry Hill on the Cork-Kerry borders, the highest peak of the Cahas, 685m, may be in view.
The road takes us along the shore, past small inlets with mossy islands. The going is easy, and there is no traffic. At a T junction, we can walk straight ahead down to Rossdohan Pier, a pleasant spot for a picnic. 1.3km there and back.
Some Gunnera tinctoria grows in wetland alongside the road. This “giant rhubarb“, 2m tall with leaves 2m wide, is a native of Chile and has been a problem on the Connacht coast, especially on Achill Island. There’s a pretty house on the pier, and a few small boats moored in the inlet.
An option is to continue out to Rossdohan Island, adding a total of 2.8km to our walk.
Back at the T-junction, we go left. There are two small lakes nearby. After passing a big stone-faced house with large solar panels, we face a gradual climb, meandering around bends, for about 1km.
We come in sight of the main road at the gated entrance to a house on the left, with a Scots pine on either side. Here, we turn down a bohreen, passing a Kerry Way-Kenmare sign. The surfaced lane runs out after 0.5km and we continue on a green path with views of the Caha Mountains.
The path entrance has a ladder stile — when we passed, the gate alongside was fortunately open, saving us the vertiginous climb — and leads to a timber walkway, thoughtfully surfaced with non-slip metal mesh.
These boardwalks are a feature in wet spots all along the path. We pass a ruin on the left, once a substantial dwelling.
This green lane is edged by holly, birch, willow, and (ominously) rhododendron. We come out onto a curve on an unsurfaced road, and follow it a short distance until the waymarked path resumes.
We ignore a grassy path going right. A large reed bed on the left supports some lovely, solitary birches. Passing a ruined house with a front yard of bedrock, we come to a gravelled path and a “four cross roads“, with fine views of Beara down to our right.
A sign indicates the Kerry Way ahead; we pass a small house with a galvanised Mansard roof. We now enjoy high views over the Kenmare River; these become more expansive after we climb another ladder stile and walk a short distance on a driveable road, past houses. Then, we are on a green path again, with boardwalks.
Two more ladder stiles, one with wooden threads, followed by a pleasant, sometimes verdant, path, with some oaks. Look out for wood sorrel with its white flowers and shamrock-shaped leaves. After a final ladder-climb, we reach the road and go left for the church and the trailhead.
On the N70 Ring of Kerry road Kenmare to Sneem, at 19km from Kenmare, look out for a modern church on a right-hand bend. Park on the verge outside: this is our trailhead. Walk past the church, across a bridge, and take the L4048 left, signposted Rossdohan, 3km.
Distance (and time): 7km. 2 hrs — half on quiet country roads, with a 1km gradual climb, half on a green path. Some soft ground.
OS Discovery 84
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Robert’s Cove walk, grade D, 2hrs, meet in Robert’s Cove Village, 7.15pm.
Coumloughra Horseshoe, grade A (no beginners), 11kms, 6.5hrs, meet Melbourn Business Park car park on the Model Farm Road, 8am, or Fossa Church, Kilarney, 9.15am.
Carrauntoohil via The Bone, grade B+, 15kms, 6hrs, meet Fossa Church, Killarney, 9.45am.
Muckross Circuit and Torc via north face, grade C, 12km, 4hrs, meet Muckross House Park 11am.
Portrane and Donabate walk, meet Connolly Station, 10.30am, or Donabate Station, 11am.
Streedagh walk, track, beach and road, easy, 10kms, 2.5hrs, meet at the car park, Carraroe Retail Park, 10am.
Burren walk, taking in a wealth of flora and archaeological treasures, easy, 8kms, 3hrs, meet car park of Institute of Technology, Sligo, 10am.