Discover the magical mountains of the Reeks District in Ireland which are ideal for bikes and hiking

Not that any Instagram fiend will have time to raise their camera phone to the breathtaking backdrops, as there’s far too much adrenaline-junkie fun to get through.

The area of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, once blandly marketed as Mid Kerry, has now been repackaged as the Reeks District. It’s a direct move to challenge the other similar UK “districts” — and is now trading hard on its wild surfing, climbing, mountain biking and kayaking, with package tours available.

With the Ring Of Kerry’s unforgettable scenery only a Ryanair hop away from Luton, you wonder why it has not already had top billing.

And if you’ve overindulged in the local whiskey and Guinness by night, no place has more hangover cures than MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.

Every day you can enjoy a blast of mountain air, whether on a hike or having a bracing swim in a lake. There is also the free spirit of the locals who are quick to discuss legends or advise on a possible lock-in in the main town of Killorglin.

While the UK has all sorts of competing attractions with busloads of visitors, in the overlooked Reeks you don’t have to jostle for space or look for a parking spot.

At the dramatic Inch coast, Kingdom Waves offers group surf sessions for 30 euros (£26) per person per hour. And unlike a lot of UK surfing spots, you aren’t shoulder to shoulder with other surfers. Once you have conquered the peaks of the waves, you can switch to other heights.

Carrauntoohil, at 1,039 metres, is Ireland’s highest mountain and, ­weather permitting, offers truly memorable vistas, the horizon punctuated by lakes, glens or more peaks.

It is definitely not for the amateur walker. For us, it was a seven-and-a-half-hour climb with long periods of scrambling. Your boots will shift on falling scree one minute and be ankle deep in bog the next. The trek requires strength and experience beyond standard rambling.

From the top though, the views are sure to dull any hard-earned aches.

If your calves can still carry you, a cycle ride through the Gap of Dunloe is a must. Killorglin Bicycle Tours will drop your bike to the top of the peaks, allowing you to freewheel into the valleys and circumvent the Caragh Lake. As the valley rolls into shades of green and flashes of bright orange gorse, your city life could not feel further away.

At Carrig Country House, the serenity of the Caragh Lake begs to be interrupted with a morning dip, provided you can handle the chill of the water that runs directly from the snowbound peaks of the Reeks. The Caragh Lake also hosts gentle, beginner kayaking through the Cappanalea Outdoor Training Centre, though white water rafting in other areas is also available.

Go: Reeks District

GETTING/STAYING THERE: Fly from Luton or Stansted to Kerry Airport with Ryanair from £14.99 one-way. See

Double rooms at Carrig Country House & Restaurant are from €150 (£130) a night. See

OUT & ABOUT: A guided 12km hike in the Coumloughra Horseshoe (Ireland’s three highest mountains – Beenkeragh 1,010m, Carrauntoohil 1,039m and Caher 1,001m) is from €75 (£65) pp. See

Half-day guided cycling tours are from €50 (£43) pp. See

A day’s kayaking on Caragh Lake is from €65 (£56) pp. See


You can see the peaks reflected in the still waters and the only spectators are the goats along the bank.

If this seems too much like peace and quiet, the town of Killorglin is a good spot for dinner and drinks.

Start at the Sol y Sombra Tapas Bar & Restaurant in the town centre, a lively venue inside a former Protestant church, still complete with stained glass windows and an altar.

Also check out The Bianconi, an inn serving locals for more than 150 years, and Jacks’ Coastguard, a former sea watch house that now offers award-winning seafood and panoramic Atlantic views as you devour your dinner.

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