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Cycling Kerry, by Donnacha Clifford and David Elton

A guide to cycling in the south-west of Ireland

Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael
Getty

Cycling Kerry - Great Road Rides, by Donnacha Clifford and David Elton Title: Cycling Kerry - Great Road Routes
Authors: Donnacha Clifford and David Elton
Publisher: Collins Press
Year: 2017
Pages: 152
Order: Collins
What it is: A guide to cycling in Kerry
Strengths: Comprehensive coverage of the area with easy to follow instructions
Weaknesses: It's a bit utilitarian and doesn't really sell the place

Dublin for the cup, Kerry for the holidays.
~ Traditional Irish saying

They call it the Kingdom. Westeros is away up north, the Stormlands and the Land of Always Winter. Down in the Kingdom it's all Ryan's Daughter and Excalibur, with a bit of Harry Potter thrown in for the kids. And, these days, a lot of Star Wars. An awful lot of Star Wars. But now, with Donnacha Clifford and David Elton's Cycling Kerry - Great Road Routes Kerry is also the Kingdom of la petite reine, the Tralee-based duo behind KerryCycling.com letting others in on the secret of the best places to ride in Kerry.

The Ring of Killarney

The Ring of Killarney

Clifford and Elton's selection of routes caters for all tastes, whether you're just looking to pooter about for a couple of hours or whether you're looking to really stretch your muscles:

The Casement Tour Tralee 38 kms 230 metres ascent
Brandon Point to Point Castlegregory 44 kms 452 metres ascent
Ballyhar and Milltown Loop Killarney 45 kms 361 metres ascent
Kerry Head Tralee 48 kms 306 metres ascent
Camp and Maharees Loop Camp 48 kms 328 metres ascent
The Butter Road Maglass 52 kms 542 metres ascent
The Three Counties Cycle Castleisland 53 kms 652 metres ascent
Slea Head Dingle 54 kms 603 metres ascent
Valentia Island and the Skellig Ring Cahersiveen 56 kms 733 metres ascent
The Ring of Killarney Killarney 59 kms 607 metres ascent
Annascaul, Minnard and Bóthar na gCloch Camp 62 kms 915 metres ascent
King Puck's Route Milltown 62 kms 428 metres ascent
Priest's Leap and the Borlin Valley Kenmare 65 kms 1,050 metres ascent
North Kerry Hurling Tour Ballyheigue 68 kms 388 metres ascent
Killarney to Tralee: the Hidden Roads Firies 68 kms 739 metres ascent
The Gap of Dunloe and the Black Valley Killarney 73 kms 1,076 metres ascent
The Lacey Cup Circuit Tralee 74 kms 662 metres ascent
Cromance, Rossbeigh and Caragh Lake Killorglin 74 kms 756 metres ascent
Sliabh Luachra Loop Rathmore 80 kms 885 metres ascent
The Dan Paddy Andy Figure of Eight Maglass 83 kms 950 metres ascent
The Conor Pass Circuit Blennerville 89 kms 1,201 metres ascent
Sneem and Kenmare Loop Torc 90 kms 1,243 metres ascent
The Three Climbs and Two Counties Cycle Killarney 100 kms 1,201 metres ascent
North Kerry and the Coast Road Listowel 100 kms 870 metres ascent
Kenmare and Croom Kenmare 100 kms 1,344 metres ascent
Mini Ring of Kerry Glencar 104 kms 1,358 metres ascent
The Ring of Beara Kenmare 140 kms 1,485 metres ascent
The Ring of Kerry Killarney 170 kms 1,741 metres ascent
The Wild Atlantic Way - Day 1 Tarbert 126 kms 842 metres ascent
The Wild Atlantic Way - Day 2 Castlegregory 148 kms 1,548 metres ascent
The Wild Atlantic Way - Day 3 Glenbeigh 161 kms 1,932 metres ascent

The route descriptions tend toward the utilitarian, descriptive without ever really selling the selected routes. Each route comes with a bit of an introduction, with the turn left here, turn right there bit following. Here we are being introduced to the Gap of Dunloe:

Cycling Kerry - Great Road Routes, by Donnacha Clifford and David Elton

Cycling Kerry - Great Road Routes, by Donnacha Clifford and David Elton

"The Gap of Dunloe and the Black Valley are among the most renowned areas for tourists in Kerry and with good reason. The glacial landscape appears timeless and for the most part untouched by modern life. The majority of the route is on quiet roads with little traffic and ample opportunity to soak up the surrounds, including views of [the] Lakes of Killarney, the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Purple Mountain, Ladies View and Muckross Park. The surface for most of the route is as good as you would hope for in a remote area such as this; however, caution is required in one or two areas. This route is relatively short but due to the varied terrain and some challenging climbs it is a good idea to begin the cycle with plenty of provisions as options for buying food are located only at the start and towards the end of the cycle."

The Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe

And here we are being instructed through the Skellig Ring:

The Skellig Ring

Cycling Kerry - Great Road Routes, by Donnacha Clifford and David Elton

"Leaving Ballinskelligs, follow the signposts to the right at a fork in the road for Portmagee and continue along the Skellig Ring. Shortly after this fork in the road the first climb of the day, up to Croom, begins. This climb has a steady average gradient of 3% and is just under 3km in distance. Descending from Croom there are fantastic views of St Finan's Bay ahead as well [as] the Skellig Islands in the distance. The larger of the two islands, Skellig Michael, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was visible in all its glory in the 2015 Star Wars film The Force Awakens, which has boosted tourism and interest in the area significantly. The Skellig Islands will be a prominent feature for much of the remainder of the cycle. At the base of the descent is the home of the Skelligs Chocolate Factory and café, which is very difficult to pass without at least a quick peek in the front door."

Slea Head

Slea Head

In addition to Kerry the Great Road Routes series also includes Cycling South Leinster (by Turlough O'Brien) and Cycling Munster (by Dan MacCarthy). Additional titles are due to be added in the coming months.

Great Road Routes, by Collins Press

Great Road Routes series, by Collins Press