Travel: The Kerry Way-Hey! IAIN HENDERSON AND VANESSA O'LOUGHLIN TAKE A WALK (AND SWIM AND CLIMB) ON THE WILDSIDE IN KERRY

The Mirror (London, England), May 21, 2005 | Go to article overview

Travel: The Kerry Way-Hey! IAIN HENDERSON AND VANESSA O'LOUGHLIN TAKE A WALK (AND SWIM AND CLIMB) ON THE WILDSIDE IN KERRY


Byline: IAIN HENDERSON AND VANESSA O'LOUGHLIN

MY brain had just given my fingers the order to move but nothing was happening.

Within seconds the mutiny had spread to my toes.

The 20 treacherous digits had decided to go on strike but hadn't bothered to tell my poor brain.

My hapless body (now a few months on the wrong side of 30) found itself 100ft up a sheer cliff face with the last 10ft still to go.

I had hoped that I would look a bit like Tom Cruise at the start of Mission Impossible 2. You know, the bit where he hangs on to an overhang in the Rockies with just one hand looking impossibly cool.

But it was more like Tom and Jerry as I perched there, frozen to the rockface, willing my limbs to get me to the top.

Below me, Vanessa was laughing - even though she had to go next.

Above me was Traolach Sweeney, our qualified guide and instructor and the man who brought us to this most beautiful part of Ireland - the Kerry Way - and told us to climb up a rockface with our bare hands.

Nearly 215km long and shaped by glaciation 10,000 years ago, the Kerry Way follows the old "butter roads" through the mountains that our ancestors used between early Christian settlements.

An even greater adrenaline rush put on by Traolach's Activity Ireland centre (www.activity-ireland.com) is something called Zapcating - a sort of mini-power boat race around Derrynane Bay.

Earlier we got off to a relaxed start by taking a horse ride at the Eagle Rock Equestrian Centre.

Being both beginners at this sort of thing we were well looked after by Caroline Donnelly and an hour of cantering on the beach and dunes was the greatest start to the weekend. An hour costs just EUR25 and advanced booking is advised.

We were further spoiled when in neighbouring Cahirciveen - a gorgeous harbour town quickly establishing itself as the new Kinsale - sailing fanatics Andrew Cooke and Graham Royce took us out in their yacht Crackerjack (see www.YachtCharterKerry.com)

The pair are doing a great job of promoting Cahirciveen as the place to do some sailing, angling and golf.

Andrew and wife Kate also run QC's restaurant (www.qcbar.com) - a fantastic seafood bar with a great vibe and well worth a visit.

GETTING THERE

It's never been easier - or quicker - to visit Cork and Kerry.

Forget the mammoth six-hour train journey of old, this time we happily took advantage of Aer Arann's frequent service from Belfast City Airport to Cork (visit www.aerarann.com)

The one-hour flight is as comfortable as they come, with enough legroom to satisfy even the men-mountains of the Ulster rugby team (our fellow passengers today).

Our final destination - the village of Caherdaniel - is 94 miles to the south west of Cork so hiring a car

is essential (try Europcar on 00 3531 6142888).

The drive takes about 2hrs 20mins, longer if you choose to stop at any of the beautiful towns and villages along the way such as Kenmare and Sneem (my favourite).

They're all worth a look and are a great opportunity to wet your whistle as you whet your appetite for the adventures that lie ahead.

WHAT TO SEE

The best place to start is by taking a walk in the magnificent grounds of Daniel O'Connell's ancestral home - Derrynane House - and the reason Caherdaniel is

so-called. …

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