In life, I guess its better to be born lucky and when you are born in Kerry you are certainly lucky. They say there are two kingdoms, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Kerry. I had an idyllic childhood growing up during the 70’s. We had only one tv channel which started at 4pm so we had to find our own entertainment. We had such freedom to explore the world around us, and Kerry is renown for its landscape and seascape. From its mountain ranges, to its wild coastline this landscape has also shaped the people of Kerry. Making them proud and passionate of their music, history, poets, writers and sport. But we have something more if you are an open water or wild swimmer, we have something special and as a swimmer to have this on my doorstep I am lucky indeed.
I have always felt comfortable in the water I love the smell of the sea, the taste of the sea, the salt in my hair and the sand in my socks. All the chaos in my life has happened on land. Kerry’s swim spots are endless, from rock pools, coves, rivers, beaches, lakes and piers. We can swim under sea arches, caves and cliffs, over rock formations and kelp forests and around lighthouses, castles, and islands.
So, I don’t want to call this the top Five swim spots in Kerry (I hate these kind of lists). I would prefer to call this, “Five Wonderful Swims in Kerry”.
Fenit – The Social Swim.
We start with Fenit 10km from the town of Tralee and at the end of the Tralee-Fenit Green Way. Fenit is ideally situated for open water swimming sitting in the shelter of Tralee Bay with the backdrop of the Slieve Mish Mountains. From April to October, the buoys marking an oval 1km swim course are out and Fenit becomes the heart of Kerry swimming. Whether they are experienced swimmers heading around the lighthouse or those who are new to the open water, swimming along the shore, the positive energy is infectious. I don’t think I have ever met an unhappy swimmer. I love the social side of swimming in Fenit, people meet, swim together, talk about their swim and plan their next swim over coffee and homemade cake in Mike’s Café.
Meenogahane Pier/ Kerry Head – The Explorers Swim
North Kerry is lesser known as a tourist destination, all the better for us swimmers! I have explored nearly all the accessible (and inaccessible) routes to the water along this cliff coastline. This coastline is wild and untouched. The pier at Meenogahane is a wonderful taste of this coastline with a small island and a sea arch within a short distance of the pier. On the right day, with the water calm and crystal clear, the cliffs alive with sea birds you can explore a little further. Caves, coves, islands and rock pools hide around every corner making your swim into an exploration that you don’t want to end. We have built up a good relationship with the local fishermen who still fish from their traditional curraghs returning home from many swims with a bag of crab’s claws. I did say I was lucky.
Glanteenassig Lake -The Wellness Swim
This swim takes you into the hills of Kerry, not far from Tralee. You turn off the main Tralee- Castlegregory road and travel along a narrow country road with lots of small farms, as you go deeper into the valley you may be stopped by the odd resting sheep on the road. Pass through the gate to Glanteenassig Wood and continue up to the carpark. It is not possible to swim in the lake next to the car park due to it being shallow and peaty, follow the boardwalk anti clockwise for about 200m and you will come to a loop in the trail, follow the loop to its point to swim where you have lake on three sides. The stillness, quietness, the forest and the backdrop of Stradbally and Beenoskee mountains makes this a swim for an empty mind and a full soul. My favourite family photo was taken here of me and the kids entering the water for a swim with the light pouring down from the mountain and cliff above us.
After your swim continue along the boardwalk around the lake and soak up the full beauty of this location.
Peddlers Lake-The Magic Swim
Peddlers Lake is on the road from Tralee to Dingle via the Conor Pass. Parking in the small carpark next to the waterfall you need to scramble up along the rock to the lake, but it is worth the effort. The lake is one of those places the landscape was put together by the forces of geology, the ice age and a splash of magic. The corrie (tarn) lake is surrounded by high cliffs on three sides. Looking behind you, take in the vista of Mount Brandon, Irelands second largest mountain and the Conor pass valley below with its lakes and isolated farms. The water is refreshing, deep, dark and cold. My kids love to swim here because of the echo and I love to swim here because of the silence. Bring coffee and cake and never be in a rush to leave this location.