Walk Distance: 2 km
Walk Duration: 1 hour at toddler speed (more if you linger long in the Fairy Woods)
Map: OS Ireland Discovery Series – Kerry 1:50000
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, all ages, all-terrain pushchairs, good normal buggies in dry weather.
Walk features: Beachside walking, beautiful gardens of Derrynane House, fairy garden, ice-creams and coffee shop, toilets, lovely sea views, child-friendly beach with life-guard.
Derrynane is the most magical little spot on the south of the Iveragh Peninsula of Kerry. This circular walk is perfect to stretch your legs and a great walk in particular for toddlers who will enjoy hunting for the houses of the Little People hidden in the fairy garden of Derrynane House. If you are driving around the Ring of Kerry this walk, combined with a quick splash on the beautiful beach, makes a perfect stop off. Best of all, coaches can’t make it down the tiny lanes to the car par so you can leave the large groups of day trippers behind for an hour or two.
The walk starts from the car park behind Derrynane Beach. Head out of the car park towards the life-guard station. Turn slightly left and join the grassy path that runs along behind the beach, enjoying the beautiful views as you go.
Towards the end of the beach the grass path turns left inland towards a dark bricked building. This is Derrynane House, home of Daniel O’Connell – a famous statesman and national icon known sometimes as ‘The Liberator’. There is an exhibition in Derrynane House where you can learn more about his role as a 19th century politician in championing the cause of the Irish in British Parliament and achieving Catholic Emancipation – a first step in the eyes of many towards Irish Home Rule.
Turn left just after Derrynane House’s main entrance and towards the courtyard. There are toilets here and a cafe that serves incredibly creamy locally produced ice-cream! If you’re not stopping then turn right into the gardens just opposite the first bench in the courtyard. The path leads through a green little wooded glade. Look out on the left for a little hollow – just toddler sized!
Follow the path round to the left and through the small tunnel that leads under the road. You will emerge in more formal gardens beyond and can explore Derrynane House ‘s South American plant collection here at your leisure.
To continue the walk, follow the path diagonally left from the tunnel and head up over a small step and onto a narrow path about half way up the left hand side of the garden boundary. Here you suddenly walk into an avenue of palms – an unexpected sight!
Just beyond here the walk rejoins the road. If you have young children and an extra 10-20 minutes then cross over and head through the gate on the opposite side of the road. A short circular walk in the woods here will delight tiny tots whose eager eyes will soon find the many tiny houses hidden at the foot of trees – no doubt belonging to Little People. When we visited, previous children had left notes, gifts of leaves and flowers and even the occasional coin next to the fairy front-doors.
The easiest way to carry on from here is to head back to the gate and turn left up the road. You will walk through a gateway with a large bell – seemingly to announce your presence to the fairies in the wood beyond but in all likelihood there for more mundane and human reasons related to Derrynane House!
Turn left on the road beyond and follow the quiet lane steadily downhill. The pinks and orange of the hedgerow Fuchsias and Montbretia are lovely here in summer. Turn left at the bottom of the hill and back into the car park from where you started out. A paddle in the sea on gorgeous Derrynane Beach is highly recommended to cool down tired little feet!
Map of Route:
Free parking is available next to Derrynane Beach for low topped vehicles. Follow the signs to Derrynane / Daniel O’Connell’s House at Caherdaniel from the main road and then continue to follow signs for Derrynane Beach car park. The walking route starts from here but can be picked up easily enough from parking at Derrynane House or other parking nearby.
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