GO WALK:CAHIRCIVEEN IS ABOUT halfway around the Ring of Kerry and as such is a regular lunch stop for the tour buses.
The hill behind the town, Bentee (376m), probably doesn’t merit much more than a glance from the tourists as they head for their grub with their minds full of the magnificent scenery that they have observed thus far. Yet that little hill provides one of the most comprehensive views of the Iveragh Peninsula and you could describe it as the hub of the route. It’s not in the centre, you might say, but then the “Ring” isn’t a ring either, so let’s not get into semantics.
From the roadside the route doesn’t look very promising, with its boggy surface interspersed with rocky outcrops, but in fact a grassy trail winds its way up to a spot height of 263m and thence on to the summit with enough markers to keep you on course. All the while the view of Iveragh expands around you.
Give yourself a good time allowance on the peak as there is so much to take in. There are entrancing views of the coastline from Dursey Island to the Blaskets and you’ll have a complete overview of Valentia Island and the inner channels leading to Portmagee, Knightstown and Cahirciveen.
To the north, in the cleft between Killelan Mountain and Knocknadobar you can glimpse the mountains of the Dingle Peninsula. Knocknadobar is Kerry’s “Croagh Patrick”, with Stations of the Cross from St Fursey’s Holy Well on the west side to a Celtic Cross on the summit.
To the northeast and east a textured lowland of varying shades of greens and browns is surrounded by a great circle of peaks stretching from the southern slopes of the Glenbeigh Mountains all the way around to Waterville.
The walk continues past two blocks of coniferous plantation, then across open ground to a third block down the side of which you make your way on boggy ground on to a third-class road. Stay on this for 200 metres before leaving it to follow a track above the fields.
There are two small streams to cross which give you a chance to wash the bog off your boots, but then you come to a stretch where feeding troughs for sheep have been placed on the track and, as there had been recent rain, it was rather muddy and I was glad I had my gaiters on.
The large flock of sheep assumed I had come bearing gifts of food pellets, and followed me across the field so that I felt like an ovine pied piper.
The last section of the track runs from a clearing which was the terminus of a mass path down through deciduous woodland. Here the wide variety of trees has been clearly labelled, which was a blessing for me as I am challenged in the identification department when it comes to the more exotic species. Finish the route with a 2km road walk back to your car.
Map: Ordnance Survey, Discovery Series, Sheet 83. Start and finish: A stile on the third-class road that runs above the town on its eastern side which leads on to the Bentee Loop walk.
Grid reference:466784 How to get there: Cahirciveen is on the N70 in southwest Kerry. Take a turn to the left in the centre of the town and then head south until you come to the stile for the Bentee Loop where there is parking for several cars.
Time: Three to four hours. Distance: 10km. Total ascent: 360m Suitability: Moderate. Rain gear, walking boots and gaiters essential.
Food and accommodation:Cahirciveen. There is a camping and caravan park at Mannix Point just outside the town.