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Bray Head Valentia: The Walk, Map + Trail Overview

Bray Head Valentia: The Walk, Map + Trail Overview

The Bray Head Loop is sadly no more – this is now a 4km there-and-back walk!

However, fear not – it’s still a wonderful ramble up to the headland that juts out into the wild Atlantic Ocean, offering fantastic views of the Skellig Islands.

Below, you’ll find everything from a map of the Bray Head Walk to where to park and what to expect. Dive on in!

Some quick need-to-knows about Bray Head on Valentia

bray head kerry

Map with thanks to Sport Ireland

Before you pack up the backpack and pull up your hiking socks, let’s take a moment to go over the basics of the Bray Head Valentia trail:

1. Location 

Located on Valentia Island, just off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, is the starting point for the Bray Head walk. You can get onto the island via a bridge at Portmagee or via the Valentia Island Ferry which leaves from Reenard near Cahersiveen.

2. Parking (warning)

There’s a decent gravel car park at the trailhead with plenty of space for cars and campers (here on Google Maps). You now have to pay to park here. It’s €2 (price may change) and you’ll need coins.

3. Difficulty and length

The Bray Head walk is roughly 4km in length and it is regarded as a moderately difficult walk (it’s incline until you reach the signal station). Depending on pace, you’ll want to allow around 45 minutes to get up and around 25 minutes to get back down.

4. Views galore

The views along this walk are so good that even Guinness used them in one of their classic ads, ‘the back of beyond’. You’ll be spoiled with amazing views over the peninsula, Portmagee, and way out to sea.

5. Update: No longer a loop

The Bray Head Loop is no more – this is now a linear, there-and-back trail that starts in the car park, takes you up to the signal tower and that then follows the same trail back to the car park.

An overview of the Bray Head Walk

bray head cliff walk

Photo via Google Maps

Formely known as the Bray Head Loop, this is now a linear, there-and-back walk that treats you to stunning views throughout.

The trail is pretty easy to follow once you’re at the car park. Just make sure to dress for the weather, as it gets wild here!

Starting off the walk

As you enter the car park, you’ll see two narrow gravel tracks, one running alongside the car park, the other forking to the right.

You want to take the left fork that follows alongside the car park before leading off into the fields. Follow the gravel path until you reach a gate.

There will be a wooden stile here to climb over and it’s worth noting that dogs aren’t allowed from this point on. The gate keeps the sheep and cows in, and out of respect for their safety, dogs are prohibited.

Views, glorious views

As you continue to follow the gravel path, keep your eyes left for amazing views over the peninsula and Puffin island.

You’ll start steadily climbing the shoulder of the hill as you advance along the path. As you near the end of the headland, you’ll see Bray Head Watchtower looming up ahead. 

Before you get there though, keep your eyes peeled for the five ruined stone buildings and crosses that date back to early Christian times.

Reaching the Bray Head signal tower

Once you reach the Bray Head signal tower, you’ll be at the cliff edge so please take care as you enjoy the incredible views.

The Skelligs jut out from the sea in the distance, while closer to hand, the mighty ocean smashes against the jagged cliffs. You’ll often catch sight of dolphins and whales in the water below.

A short way below the tower, keen-eyed walkers will make out the remains of the word ‘EIRE’. Written in large letters using stones, it was used in the second world war to enable pilots to identify the Irish coastline.

Making your way back down

For many years, you could tackle the Bray Head Loop from this point, but this is no longer an option.

When you’ve finished up at Bray Head, you’ll need to follow the path back the way you came. As you walk back down you’ll be treated to glorious views of the island and the surrounding coastline.

Things to do after the Bray Head Cliff Walk

After completing the walk up to Bray Head in Kerry, give yourself a pat on the back and figure out what you want to do next.

On the island, there’s Glanleam Beach, Valentia Island Lighthouse and plenty more (see our Valentia Island guide).

1. Food in Portmagee (10-minute drive)

Portmagee restaurants

Photos via The Moorings on FB

Portmagee is full of great places to grab a well-deserved lunch or dinner. Our go-to spot is the Moorings. Some of the Valentia Island accommodation do food, too!

2. The Geokaun Mountain & Cliffs (15-minute drive)

Geokaun Mountain

Photos via Shutterstock

On the northeast side of Valentia Island, you’ll find another amazing vantage point. As the highest peak on the island, you can be sure of incredible views across the island, out to sea, and back onto the mainland. Plus, you can drive pretty much up to the top if you’re not up for a second hill walk.

3. Drive the Ring of Skellig (15-minute-plus drive)

ring of skellig

Photos via Shutterstock

The Ring of Skellig is a fantastic addition to the Ring of Kerry drive and if you’re on Valentia, it’s worth crossing back onto the mainland to check it out. It circles the west end of the Iveragh Peninsula and takes in some spectacular scenery along the way.

Bray Head Valentia FAQs

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is the Bray Head Loop no longer a thing?’ to ‘How long does it take?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long is the Bray Head walk Valentia Island?

You’ll want to allow between 70 minutes and 1.5 hours to complete this walk (note: this is not the Bray Head Loop – this is a linear walk).

Is the Bray Head walk hard?

The climb up to Bray Head on Valentia is tough. You’ll be walking incline from the get-go and decent fitness is needed.

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