Day 6, Two Gaps and a Valley

Kenmare → Killarney via Moll’s Gap and the Gap of Dunloe

Mileage:  35.6 miles                                                        Elevation gain:   1,591′

Total mileage so far:  257.7 miles           Total elevation gain so far:  15,114′


I’m thankful for the rain today because it’s sending us on a route I would never have discovered otherwise. The rain is steady enough to make it tough to leave my B&B, but stalling in a dry room really only delays the end of the day. It doesn’t change how much time will be spent getting wet. And once I get out on the road I realize the rain’s not as heavy as we expected.

I’m only leaving with a twenty minute head start this morning but it’s enough to get me to the top of Moll’s Gap before Noel. I make a video of him cresting the hill as I cheer congratulations for his second place finish, ha!

The descent into the Black Valley is just awe inspiring. It’s not a desolate or scary place as the name implies. It’s only called the Black Valley because it was the last place to get electricity. Once we get down to the bottom we race alongside a raging creek. The small rolling hills are again like mini roller coasters and we zip up, down and around quick narrow corners for miles. All in all I think we pass three houses, only two of which may be inhabited.

On the far side of the valley we begin the ascent up to the Gap of Dunloe. A gap in Ireland is a mountain pass. It’s a tough climb filled with sheep on both sides of the road. The views stretch for miles but nothing prepares me for what’s coming at the top. I almost can’t believe it when I get there.

I wouldn’t know how to begin to describe the Gap of Dunloe. I can share a picture.

I can tell you about the Wishing Bridge,

the men driving horse buggies, the dips and turns and the beautiful lakes. But nothing will compare the experience of being there.

Before continuing down into Killarney we stop for tea and one of the most delicious berry muffins I’ve ever had at The Coffee Pot Cafe.

And for the rest of the day we explore the old city from end to end including my first castle, Ross Castle, and of course more ice cream, this time from Murphy’s. Noel knows the city well and insists we end our night at The Killarney Grand. From the outside you’d never think to give it a chance, but the locals know it’s the place to be for the best Irish music in town.

This is a very bittersweet night for me. It’s exactly the experience I’ve been excited to have, but it’s also my last night with my impeccable tour guide Noel until we meet again in Galway.