Killarney

Spring is in the air in Killarney. The weather has been kind, the sky is blue, the chill is minimal. A perfect day for a walk through Killarney’s National Park.  Killarney is a town in County Kerry, located in the south-west of Ireland.

Right on the shores of Lough Leane, Killarney is a charming town that is both modern and historic. It is also home to the vast and inviting Killarney National Park. Inside 10,236 hectares (or 26,000 acres) there are mountains, lakes, woodlands, waterfalls and even a castle to explore.

On this quiet spring day, there is a mystical air as we walk along the well signed paths. We pass greenery, colourful flowers in the gardens and woodland to reach Ross Castle. The castle was built in the 15th century by O’Donoghue Mór. It sits on the edge of the lake, with views out to the island of Innisfallen. Tourists can enter the castle for a tour; we opt not to do the tour and keep exploring the national park. In summer, you can take a boat trip across the lake to Innisfallen.

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The view is spectacular and we sat atop a hill to simply take in the beauty. Further down the path we can see walkers and a few people on horseback. Looking out to our right, the view is perfect. The lush green parkland and trees gives way to the blue waters of the lake which is rimmed by mountains. There are delicate wisps of cloud in the blue sky above. The soft green grass we’re sitting on is dotted with bright yellow flowers.

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It is a place to relax and recharge…and do a reel. Yes, I did indeed do a reel on the hilltop at the national park. It is my first time in Ireland and I simply had to do an Irish dance in Ireland. I learned to dance years ago just for fun and fitness; I am not a professional by any means but it was something I just had to do. It was just a few steps really, before I collapsed back on the grass, laughing. It’s exhilarating to be here. To be in Killarney, to see the landscape and enjoy the atmosphere.

Home to the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland, rising to heights of over 1000 metres. Just 6km from here lies Muckross House and Gardens with immaculate gardens, a lovely craft shop, traditional farms and a restaurant. You can admire the historic Muckross House with guided tours allowing you to step back in time and learn about the history, not just of the house but the local area.

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Nearby, the Torc Waterfall (approximately 70 feet high) awaits and is just a short walk from the N71 Killarney Kenmare Road. Walking through lovely woodland to see the waterfall, the gush of the water reaches your ears. Explore further by climbing the steps next to the waterfall (around 100 steps) to look out into the distance at the Killarney Lakes.

This is Ireland, a beautiful country with landscapes that simply take your breath away. There is no going home unaffected once you have seen and experienced a location as picturesque as Killarney. Perfect for hiking, enjoying scenic views, immersing yourself in the history of the area as you learn about Innisfallen Abbey and Ross Castle, taking a boat trip or kayaking on the smooth lakes, or simply relaxing in such a peaceful location.

As a writer, places with such outstanding natural beauty are inspiring. They inspire that spark, that creativity, the ideas that lead to anything from articles to full length books. Killarney is such a place. It is an experience to be re-lived and a place I hope to visit again and again. If you visit the Emerald Isle, Killarney is a place that should be on everyone’s list. Filled with the lush greenery that Ireland is so well-known for, a charming small town to explore and a natural beauty that is breathtaking.

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Adventures in the wild

Well, not really. I went into the forest but it wasn’t exactly wild. There are numerous marked paths for easy, moderate or difficult walks. The choice is up to you! It was a rainy day which made the trail muddy but this did not affect the ease of walking. It’s a well maintained path that leads you to the Upper Lake and beyond. The bottom of my jeans became splattered with mud without me even noticing but I didn’t care, I was enjoying the experience and amazed by the incredible beauty of nature.

I am talking about Glendalough – a place filled with history and the site of impressive forests, waterfalls, loughs (lakes), mountains and valleys. It is just an hour outside of Dublin – an easy weekend escape from the city.

The day is wet and foggy but this adds to the mysterious beauty of this location.The first thing I notice beyond the wild beauty, is the silence. You cannot find this kind of silence – only in nature. Mountains rim the lake, rising into the fog which hangs low and obscures their peaks.

For history buffs and lovers of architecture, the Glendalough Monastic Site is just a short walk from the visitors centre. You can see the 30 metre high round tower before you even enter the walking paths. It rises high in the sky and draws the eye towards it. Founded by St Kevin in the 6th century, there are a number of historical buildings to see. When you finish exploring this ancient site, continue on your way down to the loughs. I have learned this Irish word which means lakes, and I intend to use it!

Glendalough is set in a valley between mountains and is an area with spectacular scenery and an abundance of wildlife.

Lower Lake

I was surprised by how quickly I was rewarded on my walk by coming across the Lower Lake. The rain drops falling caused gentle ripples to appear on its smooth surface. Across the lake I can see a few buildings nestled within the trees. It is a calm sight, one that can still your mind as you take in the view. On this day, all I can hear is the rain drops falling around me and the call of birds. After spending time just relaxing as I took in the view, I returned to the track to continue my journey towards the Upper Lake.

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It is a wooded path that takes you through a green paradise of trees and on your left, the trees rise up along the mountain. It is well signed and maintained, there is no need to worry about getting lost, signs are plentiful and what is required in regards to your ability is also signed. Arrows help you along the way, different colours depending on which walk you take. I am following the green arrows today (along the Green Path) to take the easiest walk to the Upper Lake.

Upper Lake

Both sides of the lake are rimmed by mountains, I stand in the valley on the edge of the lake. Trees rise in rows on the mountain, like green soldiers in the distance, silent protectors of the mountain and lake. Some of them are completely obscured by the fog. If I look carefully I can just make out their shapes.

Ducks dot the lake close to the edge and are seemingly curious about the day’s visitors. Here I stand, taking in the views and colours of the landscape. Greens, browns, reds and yellows dominate. The lake itself is dark, reflecting the gloomy sky above it as rain continues to fall. It is breathtaking, a place of rugged beauty.

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As I stood and took in the peaceful surroundings, ironically, it was nature that broke me from my reverie. One of the ducks had quacked loudly, a sound that made me jump as I enjoyed the silence. This is a mountain paradise, calming and beautiful. I didn’t want to leave and stayed at the lake to walk around its perimeter and take in the views. It is a scene I could not tire of. The lake in the valley between mountains; the fog covering the mountains across the lake; the natural and beautiful environment.

Glendalough is a peaceful place to escape the city. Surrounded by mountains, it is a place to walk, hike and relax. I have taken just one walk of many here, there are many more parts of Glendalough to explore. Have you visited this beautiful area? Let me know if you have and share your thoughts!