Gap of Dunloe – Dunloe Upper, Ireland - Atlas Obscura

Dunloe Upper, Ireland

Gap of Dunloe

Traveling this mountain pass reveals quaint stone buildings, stunning Irish scenery, and a bridge said to grant wishes. 

The Gap of Dunloe is a mountain pass that winds through the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain ranges. Glacial flow etched this gap millennia ago. Today, a paved road acts as an asphalt river that flows around each bend and curve.

Many people walk through the Gap, as the trail reveals breathtaking vistas of the natural views the Ring of Kerry is famous for. Or, you can hire a jaunting cart (a horse-drawn carriage) and be ferried up the path, the sound of hooves clip-clopping against the pavement providing a soundtrack to your travels.

Most people start this fantastical journey on foot at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, where there is an entrance to the trail surrounded by horses and carriages. From here, you’ll walk a trail lined by a low stone fence with the hill on the right and the lake on the left. It’s usually foggy, with clouds draping over the hills, but the weather can change in a minute, bringing sunlight sparkling over the lake and shining across Ireland’s many different green hues. You’ll see the ruins of a stone house, where you may even see a deer hanging around.

After walking for about 20 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Wishing Bridge, which is said to make your wishes come true. This is one of the best spots to take pictures of the Gap, as you’ll be rewarded with views of the two mountains ranges appearing to meld in the distance.

The Gap is about 6.8 miles from end to end. It’s worth the long, winding walk through the mountains. You’ll pass by a total of five lakes: Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough, each equally picture-perfect.

Know Before You Go

Best way to enter the trail is through Kate Kearney's Cottage. They also offer horse carriages for a fee, but the best way to enjoy is by walking. Cars pass by, so you have to be careful. Some people enjoy rock climbing in the area as well. If you feel tired during the trail, there is also the Colleen Bawn Cottage to rest your legs and enjoy the view!

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