A drive (or cycle) up to Ballaghbeama Gap is hands down one of the most overlooked things to do in Kerry.
It was on a road trip with the aul lad back in 2016 when I first encountered the almost other-worldly Ballaghbeama Gap.
We were staying in a B&B not far from Kenmare and when we went to check out, the lady running it asked us our plans for the day.
Before we had the chance to reply, she said, ‘I’ll tell you what I’d do, if it was me – I’d drop in next door and get a coffee to go and then I’d head for a drive up to Ballaghbeama Gap’.
The pair of us were puzzled but intrigued. We took the little map she gave us and went on our merry way. What followed was pretty damn special.
Ballaghbeama Gap: The best drive in Kerry
So, there’ll be plenty of people that read the title above and think, ‘Get away out of that – the best drive in Kerry is the Ring!’
And that’s fair enough. The Ring of Kerry is incredible. No doubt about it. Personally, though, I can’t think of many drives in Ireland as memorable as the one at the Ballaghbeama Gap.
You’ll find the Ballaghbeama Gap/Pass between Blackwater and Glencar, where it boasts breath-taking mountainous views and a landscape that feels like it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years (aside from the road, that is).
Like something from another world
Ballaghbeama Pass cuts through the mountains smack bang in the centre of the beautiful Iveragh Peninsula. This route is isolated, unspoiled and feels almost other-worldly.
I’ve driven it three times over the years and the rugged landscape here never gets tiresome.
The road that slithers through the mountains is narrow, and you’ll need to pull in at certain points when you meet an oncoming car.
That being said, on the three occasions that I’ve been here, I’ve only met a handful of cars and even fewer people.
Where to start the drive and what to look out for
The last couple of times that I’ve done the Ballaghbeama Gap drive, I’ve left from Kenmare, as that’s where I spent the previous night.
Realistically, you can start the drive from wherever you fancy, but try, if you can, to approach it from the Glencar side.
There’s a lovely little spot to pull in at the ‘summit’ of the pass (you’ll know when you reach it).
You can pull in here and park the car (or bike). Have a look around for a little hill that’s right next to the parking area.
If you climb up this you’ll be able to soak up some brilliant views out over the surrounding area.
Is it safe to drive?
Unlike Conor Pass in Dingle, Ballaghbeama gets much less footfall, so you shouldn’t meet many cars when you drive it.
Is the road narrow? Too right it is! But don’t worry, the landscape here is open, so you’ll be able to see another vehicle approaching from a decent distance away.
The one thing to note here is that phone reception is terrible. If you’re cycling or walking, keep your wits about you.
If you hurt yourself out here (which hopefully you won’t) the chances are you’ll need to wait a while for someone to pass.
Have you visited the Ballaghbeama Gap? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! Check out our guide to the craziest roads in Ireland when you’re done!