By Eddie Smyth
It was seriously raining after breakfast today. The view towards the hills were obliterated by low cloud and curtains of rain sweeping across the valley. We left it an hour or so hoping for the forecasted break to appear. Thankfully, it did.
Wednesday – The Ring of Kerry
We set off like yesterday, with a tank full of fuel and a packed lunch ready for a whole day’s riding. It was time for a reverse trip up through the Black Valley, most of which is in ascendance requiring low gears and plenty of seat evacuation. It is certainly a different experience going up through the valley than down. A superb road. We met little traffic on either run. I guess in the summer we would not be so fortunate.
We turned left onto the N70 to Sneem, now the heavens were opened once more and we had to stop in a café in Sneem to await the next lull. Those hills had disappeared again. This was a two cup of coffee stop.
Eventually, the rains stopped, the skies cleared and after following a car or three for several slow miles we found ourselves on an empty road coasting along the coastal route to another unmarked road which led to an ancient fort that has been around long before Pontius was even an apprentice. Poor Denis experienced two mishaps today, less than two minutes apart. On the way down this narrow track he was confronted by oncoming cars driven by idiots (car hired vehicles with Dublin plates) screaming along with no place to squeeze by us and no space to stop. They just didn’t think. Fortunately, Denis did. He managed to squirt his bike tight to the hedgerow just before an inevitable collision. As sheepish as the ewes in the meadows, the limp wristed apology from the drivers and the look of horror on their passengers’ faces summed up their I.Q.
We made it back to the road proper in one piece and took in the views again.
At Ard Caorach Denis slipped away from the marked road again and we headed down another goat track type thoroughfare until we reached a small cove and inlet that would have been the perfect smugglers (or U’ Boat) hiding place in other times.We stopped here for lunch as the rains seemed to have checked out for the day. We motored along the coast some more stopping to look down into bays and across the mountains. We visited another fort which was far easier to photograph, not least because it was no longer raining, and much older than the previous one. Yes, it required yet another unmarked track that required a bit more off-roading. The fortress was in amazing condition and so well positioned for the clan that built it. From the vantage point they could see out to sea for approaching marauders and up into the mountains for spotting door to door salesmen.
It was then back on the peninsula road and on to An Coirean, where a small road takes you inland through hamlets so small they could be called piglets, and across moorland and gradually up into the hills and passed a mountain top called Knocknagapple. This road improves in stature the higher you get but the fun begins when you turn right at Bealalaw Bridge. The road just swivels and swans in almost reclusive grandeur as we circumvent MacGillycuddy’s Reeks all the way back to the main road home to Killarney.
Despite the pelting rain in the morning we had another fantastic day’s riding and for me, my personal tour guide made it such a unique experience. There were roads and landmarks that I could not have found without local knowledge. I have one more day of this torment. I can’t believe tomorrow’s trip would be even close to being interesting.
To be continued…