Dip into 40 shades of green

 

ETHICAL TRAVELLER:IF YOU THINK the Ring of Kerry is just for coachloads of tourists, it’s time to meet a man who knows the best shores to paddle off, peaks to conquer, and cliffs to climb.

Nathan Kingerlee, the founder of Outdoors Ireland (outdoorsireland.com), mountain guide and expert rock climber, is also the one who recently wrote a blog about hiking round Ireland with a dog and a goat. If you have read it, you will know that this is the guy to lead you safely up to the summit of Carrauntoohil or, in my case, across the lakes of Killarney in a kayak.

Before heading off on an all-day paddling session, Kingerlee gave us some kayaking tips on the reed-covered shores of Lough Leane and, as a passionate proponent of Leave No Trace (leavenotraceireland.org), he told us to ensure we did just that. We left Killarney’s tourist-filled streets behind and gently paddled out into a tranquil lough. It felt totally empty too, with Kingerlee saying that the tourist-boat traffic stays over on the other side, so we had massive expanses of Kerry water to ourselves.

With just enough wind to help us across the lough, but also to make us work our muscles when we changed direction, we earned our lunch. We tucked into picnics on the water’s edge, sheltering from a shower near Tomie’s Woods, followed by Nathan Kingerlee, the founder of Outdoors Ireland (outdoorsireland.com), mountain guide and expert rock climber, is also the man who recently wrote a blog about hiking round Ireland with a dog and a goat. If you have read it, you will know that this is the guy to lead you safely up to the summit of Carrauntoohil or, in my case, across the lakes of Killarney in a kayak.

Before heading off on an all-day paddling session, Kingerlee gave us some kayaking tips on the reed-covered shores of Lough Leane and, as a passionate proponent of Leave No Trace (leavenotraceireland.org), he told us to ensure we did just thaton our day on the water. We left Killarney’s tourist-filled streets behind and gently paddled out into a tranquil lough. It felt totally empty too, with Kingerlee saying that the tourist-boat traffic stays over on the other side, so we had massive expanses of Kerry water to ourselves.

Warmed, re-energised and back in our kayaks, we followed the shoreline to the point where the River Laune meets Lough Leane, and took our final glances at the magnificence that is Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, ending with a lash down the rapids leading to Beaufort Castle. Kingerlee identified each peak, pointed out nesting eagles and taught us how to ride the rapids all at once.

Outdoors Ireland is part of a network of Kerry businesses to have joined the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS), a UK certification scheme brought in to help them achieve green status as a region.

All participants are listed in brochure called The Greener Side of the Ring of Kerry, which is downloadable free of charge from Discover Ireland (tinyurl.ie/76p). Some are greener than others, however, with gold award winners such as Outdoors Ireland leading the field, and others still at the early stages of green practices with a bronze award, although this range isn’t clear from the brochure.

For my kayaking trip, I chose accommodation that had been given a gold award, Salmon Leap Farm, a traditional farmhouse bed and breakfast just outside Killarney whose green practices are listed clearly on its website (salmonleapfarm.com).

The GTBS is now one of the several green certification schemes recognised by Fáilte Ireland, with others including the EU Ecolabel, Greenbox eco-certification and the Green Hospitality Award.

In a land where there are 40 shades of green, it sometimes feels as if we are getting as many shades of certification schemes, and I long for the day when Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board agrees on one certification that fits all and embraces all aspects of sustainable tourism particular to Ireland.

In the meantime, Outdoors Ireland meets the criteria for any gold and green award, with Kingerlee not only sharing his skills relating to excellent low-carbon activities, but also guiding us with an expert knowledge of the local ecosystem.

You mightn’t do the whole Ring thing with Kingerlee, but the 24km of Kerry that I saw from a kayak are some I will never forget. Goodbye Celtic tiger, hello Celtic climbers and kayakers, where the future is green and raring to go.


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