Purple Mountain via the Gap of Dunloe

Beautiful hike in Kerry through the famous Gap of Dunloe: a beautiful chain of lakes, ravines, passes, roamed by herds of sheep, in an almost arid mountain atmosphere as you approach the summit. A great option to escape the crowds coming to the Gap of Dunloe by horse-drawn carriage or car. Breath-taking views of the Gap of Dunloe, the Upper Lake of Killarney, the Black Valley, the ocean (to the West and South West) as well as the roof of Ireland, the Carrauntuohil.

Technical sheet No. 19766367

A Irlande walk posted on 28/02/22 by Tamtraductions. Last update : 09/03/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 7h15 ?
Distance Distance : 17.53 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 783 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 777 m
Highest point Highest point : 817 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 58 m
Very difficult Difficulty : Very difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Ireland (IE)
Starting point Starting point : N 52.040254° / W 9.631666°
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(D/A) From Kate Kearney's Cottage hotel restaurant car park, take the paved road which carries on from the one arriving from Beaufort. This is the only road through the Gap of Dunloe, which must be followed for approximately 6 km.

In the last hectometres, it's a climb in hairpin turns to reach the top of the pass (Head of the Gap of Dunloe). A slab marks the separation between the Gap and the next valley, the Black Valley, which the main road dives into.

(1) When you reach Head of Dunloe, go left (East) at the top of the pass, where there's a small improvised car park with about two spaces, you'll notice a small, discreet and unmarked path which first overlooks the road leading to the pass, before tackling the steep slope of the mountain.

You can then make out the summit of Purple Mountain in the background on the left. The trail ascends over about 400m, due East.

(2) Turn off to the left (North - North - East) and enter a small ravine that follows the bed of a practically dry stream. Head up the ravine along the brook for about 800m.

The path is not always easy to follow. Keep to the left of the path in order to avoid confusing it with the stony bed of the stream where progress is less easy. Behind you is the Black Valley and, on the left, the summit of Carrauntuohil. Don't venture too far to the left of the plateau, on the edge of the ravine (you then overlook the Gap of Dunloe road). After about 800m, the path leads to a small lake, Glas Lough.

(3)Go around the lake to the left.

(4) The path quickly branches off to the right (East) and goes up a steep slope on the hillside, again following the bed of a small stream, at the foot of a rocky outcrop which it bypasses after 200m.

(5) The path then turns left (North - North - East) and takes the final slope towards the summit (which is not the Western summit that we can see from the start of the ascent, but a second summit hidden behind). The path is not very visible in places and sometimes diverse, but continues towards the summit in direction North-North-East.

In the last hectometres, it's a steep and rocky climb to reach a pass. Give the Western summit climb a go (in one minute). Stunning panorama on the Carrauntuohil, the Gap of Dunloe, the Black Valley and the ocean in the background.

::6: From the pass, the path climbs the final scree on the right (East - North - East), which leads to the summit of Purple Mountain after 300m. Beautiful views over the Upper Lake of Killarney to the South.

(7) Return using the same path. The descent is in the opposite direction towards Kate Kearney's Cottage hotel restaurant car park (D/A).

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 58 m - Kate Kearney's Cottage hotel restaurant car park
1 : km 6.08 - alt. 236 m - Head of the Gap of Dunloe
2 : km 6.47 - alt. 326 m - Entrance to the valley
3 : km 7.28 - alt. 464 m - Glas Lough
4 : km 7.55 - alt. 496 m - Beginning of the final ascent
5 : km 7.75 - alt. 573 m - Rocky plumb
6 : km 8.49 - alt. 777 m - Final pass
7 : km 8.77 - alt. 814 m - Summit - Purple Mountain
D/A : km 17.53 - alt. 58 m - Kate Kearney's Cottage hotel restaurant car park

Useful Information

Car park : The hike starts from Kate Kearney's Cottage hotel restaurant, which is accessible via the N72 (Ring of Kerry), by the west from Killorglin and the east from Killarney, via Beaufort, taking the Beaufort Bridge by a gas station. Beaufort and the Gap of Dunloe are indicated from there. Heading straight for 4km, you reach Kate Kearney's Cottage. The road does not end, but is (theoretically) closed to unauthorized personal vehicles. Park in the car park opposite the cottage, on the right of the road. On the wall of the cottage, a large informative map allows you to locate Purple Mountain in particular.

Long hike with high altitude for the region. No markers. No water point or food supplies on the way (but toilets in the car park). The trip through the Gap of Dunloe is very busy. There are many horse-drawn carriages and cars there despite the restrictions.

The weather in Kerry is very changeable with frequent showers. The trail from the top of the Gap of Dunloe is often muddy. Therefore don't forget suitable shoes, waterproof if possible, warm clothes and a waterproof jacket.

The path can be difficult to follow in places but the direction is clear and there is no risk of getting lost, the main path can be found quickly in the event of a deviation. The descent can be slippery in rainy weather (steep trail).

There is apparently a way to descend back down the other side of Purple Mountain, via Tomies Mountain, to Kate kearneys Cottage, which has the advantage of greatly reducing the horizontal distance on the way back. The author has not experimented with this option.

Always be careful and plan ahead when hiking. Visorando and the author of this sheet cannot be held responsible in the event of an accident or any inconvenience occurring on this circuit.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

  • The road passes five lakes and gradually sinks into a valley dominated by two pyramid-shaped peaks, including Purple Mountain on the left. Beautiful diversity of landscapes and a rather wild environment nevertheless.
  • Accommodation possible at Inveraray Guesthouse on the road to Beaufort, very warm welcome.
  • From Kate Kearney's Cottage, possibility of reaching the top of the pass (Head of the Gap of Dunloe) by horse-drawn carriage, or even horseback. The carriages and their drivers wait at the entrance to the Gap road, on the left just behind the cottage.

The GPS track and description are the property of the author.