Torc Waterfall to Galway's Bridge
Distance: 8.5km | Ascent: 350m | Time: 3hrs 15mins
Approaching Derrycunihy Church at Galway's Bridge
Start: Torc Waterfall (V 9655 8475)
Finish: Galway's Bridge (V 9145 8025)
OS Map: No. 78
Starting from the car park on the N71, the Kerry Way follows the Owengarriff River until reaching the base of Torc Waterfall. The trail sharply ascends 80 metres through deciduous forest. Glimpses of Torc Mountain can be caught through breaks in the trees before the Kerry Way arrives at an upper car park.
The Old Kenmare Road provides firm footing for a large part of this section of the Kerry Way. As the name suggests, this road is from bygone days. The alternative lower-lying N71, more commonly known for being part of the famous 'Ring of Kerry'. This route also completes a circuit of the Iveragh Peninsula.
Following the old cobbled road out from the forestry, the physical presence of both Torc and Mangerton Mountains can be felt looming on either side of the path. The Kerry Way soon reaches a spur which climbs the 300m ascent to the summit of Torc Mountain. Those who consider this detour should note that it will take at least an extra 90 minutes for this excursion.
After following the Owengarriff River for several kilometers, the Old Kenmare Road slowly climbs up towards Crinnagh, leaving the river behind where it turns into Friar's Glen. Upon reaching the brow of the hill, distant views of Ireland's highest mountain range come into sight. At a height of 1,039m, Carrauntoohil is the jewel in the crown of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks.
The Kerry Way then descends 50 metres or so to cross the Crinnagh River and across a marshy area. The firm footing of the cobbled road earlier in the day gives way to sections of board walk threading their way through wet areas of ground. The trail then starts to rise through Esknamucky Glen. This short section is an uphill gorge walk with a scattering of trees.
Soon after passing through Esknamucky Glen, a beautiful dense oak forest is reached with dense moss carpeting the rocks beneath. A reasonably steep descent sees the Kerry Way meet a tarmac road. The trail forks at this point, with Galway's Bridge and Black Valley to the right and north, whereas the return leg of the Kerry Way comes from the south and to the left. It is a short stroll to Derrycunihy Church at Galway's Bridge.
There are a few craft outlet shops serving refreshments up the road at Lady's View. Take a left turn when reaching the N71 and proceed to walk for a further kilometer.