Kenmare to Galways Bridge
After all the planning and preparation, here I am, with a pack on my back, walking out of Kenmare on the old butter road up towards Windy Gap. I have ten days and 120 miles ahead of me on the Kerry Way. Will I make it? Have I packed to little or too much? Will my old back, knees and feet hold out? What adventures lie ahead?
As I slip into the steady rhythm of walking, the thoughts drift away and I begin to feel the calm pleasure of moving slowly through the landscape. The road leaves the supermarket and enterprise centre behind, gets steeper and narrower and is soon out into open countryside with views over the hills ahead and behind me.
Onto a rough track as a rain squall drifts across and quickly passes, still climbing towards the gap between Peakeen and Knochanaguish.
Boardwalks crossing the boggy stretches. Windy Gap living up to its name. The sun making an appearance at the crest of the pass. A quick break at the top and then down into the warm glen, rivulets flowing over the path, fords and stepping stones over the deeper crossings.
Oak thickets around ruined buildings, probably stopping places for the butter carriers on their way to Killarney. A ruined settlement in a grove of trees high above the track. The sound of water accompanying me as the route follows the river down from the hill.
Then the spire of Derrycunihy church rising from the trees and the busy road around the sharp bends crossing Galway’s Bridge, tourists taking selfies by the river.
Herself meets me and we drive into Killarney to a comfortable hotel for the night. Tomorrow’s forecast is bad but this has been a beautiful walk to start my adventure.