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If you are thinking of hiking in Ireland, be sure to add a Killarney National Park walk to your list. The trails lead you by sites like Torc Waterfall, Muckross House, Muckross Abbey all while spying red deer, Kerry cows and more wildlife in the national park.
Killarney National Park Walk
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I love my daily walks. I throw on a podcast, grab my trusty water bottle, and head out the door. The thing is, the scenery in my neighborhood is just not that enticing. I may get lucky and see some herons, a squirrel, and sometimes unfortunately, snakes. I live for my walks in gorgeous settings. I find myself soaking them in. The way the air feels, the smells, the colors. I will recall these walks when my daily stroll is less than exciting!
I was looking forward to our Killarney National Park walk and I'm happy to say it exceeded all my expectations! How often can you stroll past the ruins of a Franciscan friary, a waterfall, an incredible estate and view wildlife? The fall colors were just starting to make their appearance. Linda Woods, the founder of Ireland Walk Hike Bike was our fantastic tour guide. She was incredibly knowledgable and as charming as could be. Her dog joined us on our walk and I couldn't resist shooting a picture.
Our Killarney National Park walk began just across the street from the Muckross Park Hotel where we had our fantastic gourmet lunch. We started down a simple country lane, and suddenly, just beyond the cows and trees, we spotted Muckross Abbey.
Although the abbey has been out of service for a long while, the cemetery is still active. Since I'm always on find a grave for genealogy, I'm a sucker for a good one, and this one didn't disappoint. The iron gate, ivy covered stones and flowers were as storybook as they come.
The abbey is missing it's roof, but the ruins are in great condition. The arch entrance was inviting, showing just a hint of the back window wall.
It was so bright and airy on this side of the abbey. Head to the middle and you get more of a surprise. There are hallways that are a bit dim, but are worth going down to see the Yew tree growing smack dab in the middle of the abbey. It is spectacular!
From the abbey, we winded down more Irish lanes. We went through dense trees, past pastures of Kerry cows, and saw the horse drawn carriages Killarney is famous for. Walking down a small lane with trees on each side, we came upon the Muckross House. The estate is known for Queen Victoria's visit. The house is simply gorgeous, even in the rain.
Muckross House and Estate
The house was built on the perfect spot. The view of Muckross Lake is excellent, with MacGillycuddy's Reeks just off in the distance.
I would love to have a cup of coffee on this bench. How about you?
The grass was still a lush Irish green, but the trees were just beginning to turn to their Autumn colors.
After cutting through some of the Muckross House gardens, we found ourselves on a path with the fields of Red deer just beyond. Before my trip to Ireland, I watched Ireland's Wild Coast. It is a fantastic documentary with stunning cinematography. It covers the red deer in the park, so I had my fingers crossed that we'd see some, and see some we did!
After passing the fields, we again entered into a forested area. This was the most challenging of the walk, and I say that very very very loosely. The walk towards the Torc waterfall has the tiniest incline, but some of the rocks and paths are the tiniest slippery, so you should be careful. It is not strenuous at all though, and I'd feel comfortable taking my boys there, even when they were younger.
The waterfall didn't disappoint, with it's graceful curve. The leaves on the trees were still thick and lush, and this angle doesn't show the entire water fall. It does go up a bit more. The steps to view it from are well maintained. After viewing the Torc waterfall, we went back by moss covered trees that almost glowed neon in color. They were so bright and dense. It reminded me very much of Iceland, with all the rocks covered in moss and lichen.
Linda ended our tour with a glass of gin and juniper berries. It was divine. A Kerry coach was waiting in the car park to shuttle us back to our hotel. The walk was invigorating and inspiring, but I was happy to be able to rest for a bit. There are many days when I'm slugging along in my neighborhood that I recall my Killarney National Park walk and smile from ear to ear.
If you are thinking of hiking in Ireland, there are many options, with many skill levels. I would suggest Killarney National Park hiking be added to your list- especially if you are hiking as a family. It's very family friendly with lots of sights the kiddos would enjoy. Ireland Walk Hike Bike offers many tours, both guided and self guided, so be sure to visit their site for even more ideas of what to see and do on your visit!
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Want more ideas for spending time in Killarney? Be sure to see my Lakes of Killarney Kayak Adventure HERE.