Location: Gleninchaquin Park
Sunday 18th April, 2021
When you set off for Gleninchaquin Park in County Kerry, our advice is to make sure you’re in either a great pair of walking boots or a sturdy car that’s able to navigate potholes well. This surreal parkland is situated at the end of a very long and winding road, wide enough to fit only one car.
It was busy there the day we visited, with sunshine lighting up the whole Beara Peninsula. We had to pull in every minute or so to let another car pass by, and all in all it was a hairy ride. Added to this, when we finally arrived, we were surprised to find that there was an entrance fee of 6 Euro each. That would be fine, but we had been relying on debit cards throughout our holiday due to Covid, so we had no cash on us at all!
As a final stress, we were directed to park in the high car park, up an extremely steep hill. Now that would have been no problem, only that the car had been having constant trouble with ignition coils throughout our trip and had just been fixed again the day before. I don’t know much about ignition coils but I do know that broken ones cause the car to struggle going up hill. And we had not only ourselves in the car but a heavy canvas tent, sleeping bags, an airbed, a well packed cool box and pretty much the entire contents of our small bedroom packed into the boot and backseat. So it was a nerve-wracking journey to the car park I can tell you, hoping that the coils would behave themselves this time. They did, thankfully, and we were rewarded when we opened the car doors to find ourselves overlooking one of the most spectacular landscapes I have seen in Ireland.
After our worries going up the hill, we had almost forgotten about the requirement to pay 6 euro each to enter the parkland. What ensued was an exploration of the car, hoping to perhaps find a few euros under the tightly packed sleeping bag and airbed. We were unsuccessful and had to tell the park staff that no money was to be found. Unsurprisingly this often happens, and they have a system where you collect an envelope from their office, and then later you get the cash and drop the money off at a local petrol station.
So that brings us to a sticky point. This attraction cannot be explored for free. We do not usually feature locations that are not free, as part of the joy of going on a picnic is the fact that it costs little or nothing to throw together a few sandwiches and a flask of tea. But this location really deserves to be featured and so we are happy to break our own rule.
Hard to describe, the park is surely what is known as ‘pastoral’. Emerald green fields are inhabited by friendly, fluffy sheep who do not stir as humans pass close by. Trees grow as if specially placed to add to the picturesque landscape. Above the pastures are impressive hills and waterfalls. And the pièce de résistance? The picnic benches themselves. There are quite a few of them dotted around beneath the waterfalls. What was really lovely to see was how many families were picnicking in the park. We actually had to wait for a little while before one came available! In our experience, this is unusual. We’ve often visited beautiful picnic spots, with lots of benches, and they would all be empty.
If it was just the scenery and the picnic benches that were available, it would still be worth the six euros. But there are also many beautiful walks you can do, one which will bring you high above the park. The views from there must be spectacular but we did not go as far as that on that day. After a leisurely picnic, we decided to set off on the ‘Heritage Route’ which brought us to the site of an old farm. It was most interesting, with information signs provided, and the chance to enter an old dwelling house which apparently has featured in films and magazines including Vogue!. That walks loops you back to the park in about 90 minutes, bringing you to beautiful viewpoints along the way.
There are toilets at the entrance to the park which is always much appreciated, and I believe in non- Covid times there is also a small cafe and shop. We didn’t get a chance that day to visit the sensory garden, but it sounds beautiful too.
Gleninchaquin Park is certainly worth a visit if you are ever in the area and feeling adventurous! And don’t forget the hiking boots and the loose change! 🙂
We stayed nearby, camping at the wonderful Creveen Lodge campsite, which we would highly recommend.
Gleninchaquin Kenmare view walks Waterfalls