I have a friend from Ballymacelligott near Tralee in County Kerry. If any of you have friends from county Kerry, you probably know the same old story. The pride that Kerry folk have for their county is phenomenal. I made the mistake of telling my pal I was planning a trip to the south west. I was soon inundated with tips for activities in Kerry. One of the big things advised to me were the Kerry Cliffs. Higher than the Cliffs of Moher seemingly.
Where are The Kerry Cliffs
We arrived in Kerry on a warm Sunday at the end of August 2021. Our destination was Portmagee. Portmagee is a fishing village on the south western tip of the Iveragh Peninsula. Previously more known as a gateway to the beautifully picturesque Valentia Island, Portmagee is now famous as the departing point for tours to the Skellig Islands. Skellig Michael was our ultimate destination and we had a trip organised for early the following morning.
We drove to Portmagee from Dublin. It’s a 4 and a half hour journey from the capital to the pretty Kerry village. Once we hit Killorglin, we joined the Ring of Kerry (a 179km circular route that takes in the most popular tourist spots in the Kingdom). It really is a beautiful and picturesque drive that set us up nicely for our Kerry trip.
We arrived in Portmagee about 5 o clock and checked into the lovely Moorings Hotel. Armed with the knowledge that the Kerry Cliffs were close by, we asked for directions from the friendly hotel receptionist and set on our way. The Kerry Cliffs are only a 3km drive from Portmagee so it was a perfect pre-dinner sight seeing activity.
Arriving at the Kerry Cliffs
After leaving Portmagee, we arrived in a large car park at the entrance to the Kerry Cliffs. We parked up, walked towards the entrance kiosk and paid the entrance fee of €4 per person. The attendant at the kiosk advised that it was quite a misty evening and kindly offered that we could come back the next day for no charge once we showed our receipt. A nice touch.
So What Exactly are the Kerry Cliffs
Standing at over 1,000 feet (305 metres) at their highest point, the Kerry cliffs offer dramatic views over sheer drops down to the Atlantic Ocean and out towards Puffin Island and the Skelligs. The Kerry Cliffs are in fact the closest point on the Irish mainland to the Skellig islands.
Another interesting fact which the locals are fond of telling is that the Kerry Cliffs are higher than the Cliffs of Moher (305 metres versus the 214 metres high point of the Cliffs of Moher). Kerrycliffs.ie offers useful information both about the cliffs themselves and the amenities at the site such as the camping facilities on offer.
The Kerry Cliffs Walk
From the ticket Kiosk we walked about 400metres straight up to the cliffs themselves. It’s a steep enough incline but easily manageable along the gravel pathway.
The views once we reached the top of the walk were very impressive.
The only downside being the mist that we were warned about when we paid the entrance fee. There was something attractive about how the cliffs loomed out of the fog though. As such, it still felt very spectacular.
From our vantage point we could see two different viewing platforms available to visitors. One to the left/south and right/north of the path we had just walked up. We ventured right first as this viewing point was the slightly lower of the two.
The viewing platform to the right looks out over the Iveragh Peninsula. The Iveragh Peninsula is the largest in south west Ireland. Dominated by the McGillycuddy Reeks mountain range which run through the spine of the peninsula. The viewpoint here also offers views of Valentia Island with the Blasket Islands further off in the distance.
The walk back to the next viewpoint was much steeper and we needed to use the handrails in places as we made our way uphill.
The southern platform looks out towards the Atlantic Ocean.
The views on a clear day must be spectacular. The highlight of course being the two rocky islands that form the Skelligs. We could just barely make them out as we strained our eyes out towards the misty vista.
With the views to the distance blurred somewhat by the incoming fog, we took solace looking down at the spectacular drops below us from our perch over 1,000ft above the sea.
The Kerry Cliffs are a beautiful place to visit. The walk from the car park taking in both viewing platforms was just over 2kms. We spent an hour there taking in the amazing scenery. As with a lot of scenic attractions in Ireland, a lot depends on the weather. Our feeling when we left was that, the views of a clear day would offer a whole different experiences. As we made our way back to Portmagee, we made a promise that this was definitely a place we would come back to!