Waterville to Caherdaniel by Coast
Distance: 12.5km | Ascent: 320m | Time: 4hrs 15mins
Waterwheel on the Currane River, Waterville
Start: Waterville (V 9655 8475)
Finish: Caherdaniel (V 9145 8025)
OS Map: No. 83 or 84
Starting from the Tourist Office (open in Summer), the first 1km of the Kerry Way passes a statue of Charlie Chaplin who was a frequent visit to Waterville in his time. After travelling the length of the promenade, the trail crosses the Currane River. Anglers can be seen in the river fishing for sea-trout and salmon. Immediately after crossing the bridge, the trail comes off the busy main road.
For a section of the next 3km, the trail is shared with the 'Ring of Kerry Cycle Route' along a quiet back road. The road heads out in the direction of Hogs Head, passing many holiday homes facing out across Ballinskelligs Bay to Bolus Head and the Skelligs.
The Kerry Way soon picks up the track of an old green road that climbs 170m over the following 2½km. Traces of old ring forts can be identified in the area below. Loher Stone Fort is the most prominent of these with a significant stone wall above ground. After crossing the main road, the trail threads a saddle between Farraniaragh and Beenarourke. A new panoramic scene unfolds with views of Derrynane Bay, Lamb's Head, and a number of islands including Deenish and Scariff.
The next 3½km of trail leads toward Derrynane National Park. The Kerry Way descends 50m to meet busy Ring of Kerry for around ½km until reaching the Scarriff Inn. The trail then gradually zig-zags down along a minor road that is ultimately destined for Bunavalla Pier. Boat trips to the Skellig Islands depart from here each morning. After 1½km the trail comes off this road at a hairpin bend and follows a green road towards some forestry.
The final 2½km goes through a native forested area of hazel, occassionally encountering laneways with a scattering of holiday homes before emerging on some farmland. The Kerry Way passes the foot of Caherdaniel Stone Fort on the last kilometer before arriving in Caherdaniel.
There is an alternative route to Caherdaniel which follows a separate branch of the Kerry Way. To the north-east of Lough Currane the trail splits on the mountain pass at Coomduff. This section passes around the back of Currane before crossing Windy Gap, at the shoulder of Eagles Hill. It descends into Caherdaniel from the north-east.
This alternative can be up to 27km in distance, depending on the starting point. The trail can be back-tracked to Coomduff from Waterville. The recommended option, to avoid repeating this 8km section, is to travel by car to Dromod or Cahersavane and pick up the trail from there. The final alternative is to start from Mastergeehy, which is only 1.5km away from where the Kerry Way splits at Coomduff.
The inland route to Caherdaniel must not be underestimated, it is one of the tougher sections of the Kerry Way and passes through extremely isolated areas. More information can be found on the Waterville to Caherdaniel via Windy Gap webpage.