What to expect when cycling the Skellig Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way.
26 March 2021
What to expect when cycling the Skellig Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way.
If you want to see, feel and experience the beauty of South-West Kerry, there’s no better way to do that than cycle your way down the Skellig Coast Way. This route is more than 70 km long and it covers the entire Skellig coast part of the Wild Atlantic way. Too long for a bike ride? Don’t worry; you can still have a taste of the Skellig Coast on the Wild Atlantic way without completing the whole trail. In this blog post, we will guide you through some of the sites on cycling the Skellig Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way Kerry.
The Skellig Coast On The Wild Atlantic Way In Kerry
Kerry is a county in Southwest Ireland and is part of the province of Munster. On the far western tip lies the Iveragh Peninsula home to the Skellig Coast. This region is home to the UNESCO World heritage site Skellig Michael, Megalithic monuments - Stone Forts & ancient Churches, Beautiful lakes such as Lough Curran and Specular beaches such as Derrynane, Waterville, Ballinskelligs & St. Finian’s Bay.
The Skellig Coast part of the Wild Atlantic Way is 70km long stretching from Cahersiveen to Caherdaniel. This section of the legendary cycling trail is considered to be the most beautiful because of the abundance of amazing, picturesque views and other activities you can do. Being part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a cycling loop was developed within the area and is called Skellig Ring Cycle. This ring intertwines with part of the Ring of Kerry route starting in Cahersiveen and ending in Caherdaniel. The cycling loop covers amazing places such as the villages of Portmagee, Valentia Island, St. Finian’s Bay, Ballinskelligs, Waterville and Caherdaniel, Scenic sites: Cromwell Point Valentia Lighthouse, Colourful Fishing Village Portmagee, spectacular Kerry Cliffs, Coomanaspic Pass, UNESCO site Skellig Michael viewing point, 12-century Ballinskelligs Abbey and the panoramic beaches of Derrynane & Caherdaniel.
Sights And Activities When Cycling The Skellig Coast On The Wild Atlantic Way Kerry
The southern coast of the Iveragh peninsula is the start of the Wild Atlantic Way in Kerry. Here you will find the Beara Peninsula on the left and the majestic Mcgillycuddy’s Reeks on the right. The mountain range includes 9 out of 10 of the tallest mountains in Ireland, including the highest Carrauntoohil. You will also find your way to Portmagee where you will find the departure point for Skellig Michael (Skellig Rock) and its 6th century monastic settlements, a UNIESCO World Heritage site. When you reach the coastal village of Portmagee, visit Valentia Island.
Cahersiveen is the gateway to the Skellig Coast and the birth place of the Liberator Daniel O'Connell. In the centre of the town you will find the most dominant feature the Daniel O'Connell memorial Church (the only church in Ireland to be named after a layperson. Other points of interest; the Royal Irish barricks 1870's, Ruins of Ballycarbery Castle, Megalithic stone forts Cahergall & Leacanabuaile & the old pilgrim path to Conac na dtobar marked by 14 stations of the cross leading up to an imposing celtic cross on the summit of the plateau...Rio de Janerio Christ the redeemer eat your heart out - 360° vista radiates over the Skellig islands, West Cork, Carrauntoohill, the Blasket islands and the Dingle Peninsula.
Just outside of Cahersiveen - Renard Point - a ride on Ferry can be taken to access Valentia Island alternatively take the N70 anf turn off right for the R565 Portmagee/ Valentia route.
Valentia is where you will find Cromwell Point Lighthouse built in 1841 on a 17th century fort and is in operation for 180 years. Another historic site to visit on Valentia Island is the Cable Station, first telegraph link (transatlantic cable) between Europe and Newfoundland, Canada can be found “The Birthplace of Global Telecommunications”. Follow the transatlantic cable route around the Island. Other points of interest, Bray head tower, Tetrapod trackway a monumentus turning point in evolution representing the transition of life from water to land, Glanleam garden & beach (Tropical garden built by the Knight of Kerry), Knightstown (developed in 1840's as a planned town/village by 18th Knight of Kerry featuring a Town clock & Royal Hotel named after Queen Victoria's son Prince Arthur.
Don’t forget to visit the town of Waterville, a town nestled between the beautiful lake Lough Currane and the Wild Atlantic Ocean. Waterville know for it's beautiful Golf courses (Hog's Head Golf course / Hotel & Waterville Golf Links, waterfront promanade, megalithic tombs, Charlie Chaplin statue and of course home to the the legendary Mick O'Dywer.
Lough Currane covers an area of 10 km2 and is home to Church Island the 6th century monastery founded by St. Fionán. The oak church (oratory) was replaced in the 12th century by a Romanesque stone building called a Clochán (beehive hut), some of which survives today. To access Church Island why not hire a kayak / paddle board - Sea Synergy provide a 2-hour kayak tour or paddle boarding on the lake. Certified instructors accompany you on this beautiful trip where you can enjoy unique views of the local landscape and biodiversity and savour the bliss of being on the water. No experience necessary, all equipment provided. https://www.seasynergy.org/
After visiting Lough Currane, take time to cycle back the Lake Road (quite but narrow ) to soak up views of the lake & listen to nature. Head southwest towards Hog’s Head golf clubhouse on the N70, turn off for the Lake Road on the left hand-side opposite the clubhouse. This 8 km cycle captures beautiful views of the lake & forestry.
Looking for unique accommodation with only the sound of the oceans waves crashing to send you to sleep – Book the Smugglers Inn Boutique Accommodation & gourmet restaurant just 1.5 km from Waterville village; overlooking Ballinskelligs Bay and 200 meters from Waterville Golf Links. Smugglers Inn’s 15 bedroom guesthouse, sport storage facilities & 50+ seater restaurant overlooking the sandy beach of the Inny beach is the perfect location to base your stay on the Skellig Coast Way. Contacts T: +353 (0) 66 947 4330 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DERRYNANE / CAHERDANIEL
If beach views are more of your thing, you can stick to the coastal areas and travel the N70 southwest towards Caherdaniel / Derrynane or back on the Skellig Ring road towards Ballinskelligs / St.Finian’s bay, good places to visit to soak up the salt air. Derrynane beach is the Copacabana of Ireland, it’s protected, dune-backed beach soft, white sands & the ruins of a medieval church on Abbey Island. Why not take a splash to cool down in the crystal clear waters on this blue flagged beach.
BALLINSKELLIGS / ST. FINIAN'S BAY
Ballinskelligs (R566 / R567) rests to the South West of the Peninsula. Overlooking McCarthy’s Castle & Ballinskellig Abbey, this Blue flag beach is one of the best kept secrets in south Kerry and is a favourite with families for many years. Reenroe beach adjacent to the Inny beach (Waterville Golf links) but separated by the Inny estuary is a 1.5 km beach due to its low gradient offers shallow waters for smaller swimmers and vast expanse of golden sand. St. Finian’s Bay in The Glen is well worth a visit, lies half way around the Skellig Ring and hosts fantastic views of Skellig Michael. The beach here is small and suitable for Surfing but be aware for the strong rip currents!
Continue your cycle on the R567 towards Portmagee – this part of the cycle will be the toughest, 2.5 km of Steep Mountain cycling averaging between 15% gradient (Max gradient 26%) which will really work those calves. It will be worth the climb when you reach the top of Coomanaspic the views from this incredable height is breathtaking Skellig Michael, The Blasket Island, Kerry Cliffs & the colourful Fishing village of Portmagee. Kerry Cliffs are just at the end of the mountain so make sure not to pass the entrance without stopping at "one of Ireland most spectacular Cliffs". Portmagee is the next port of call, named after the 1700's Theobald Magee Ireland's most notorious smuggling goods from France & Portugal. Here is the main departure point for trips to Skellig Island. A substantial meal is required after your trek – why not stop off in the Smugglers Café Portmagee to refuel and sample some of Head Chefs Henry Hunt’s gourmet food (Chowders, gourmet sandwiches, Fish n’chips, open seafood mix or some artisan coffee & cakes).
The Skellig Ring Coast is a great trail that every cyclist should consider. Lots of discovery you will find when you cycle in this portion of the Wild Atlantic Way with amazing landscapes and ocean views you can truly enjoy. To make your cycling more fun, don’t forget to visit ancient forts, Skellig Rock, lighthouses and watch towers. When you want to have some down time, take time to have a picnic at any of the sandy beaches you can find along the way.
Important Things to Consider
Cycling around the Wild Atlantic Way in South West Kerry an absolute must. Before you plan out your trip to this part of the trail, there are some things consider first. •
There are some parts of the Atlantic Way in Kerry that have steep and narrow roads. These roads are more suitable for more experienced cyclists.
The Skellig Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way has a 70km stretch and can be done within a day if you’re up for the challenge. If you want it more relaxed, however, you can break your trip down into three days.
The Skellig Coast section of the Wild Atlantic Way can be busy in the middle of the year. To have the place virtually by yourself, plan your visit August onwards.
As they say, the Wild Atlantic Way on the Skellig Coast is the most rewarding part of the 2000km-long trail. If you happen to pass by the place, drop by at the Smugglers Café, Portmagee for the best coffee in Kerry or Smugglers Inn Boutique Guest House & Restaurant, Waterville for exquisite gourmet seafood, steaks & wines.