Midway by biking the Ring of the Reeks in Kerry, I realise I’m going to make it. Not simply the circuit’s full 90km but in addition the vacationer board’s Large 5 Problem, which was launched this month.
I began my mission three days earlier with a seven-hour trek to the highest of Eire’s highest peak, 1,039-metre Carrauntoohil in MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the vary of mountains I’m now encircling by bike. The next day’s motion included browsing on Inch Seashore, kayaking for 6km throughout Caragh Lake, and night-time paddleboarding on Cloon Lough in Kerry’s Darkish Sky Reserve. At the moment’s journey contains 1,350 metres of climbing over three of Eire’s highest mountain passes.
Eire map
Moll’s Hole is the second thigh-burning climb of the day and I find yourself strolling the ultimate stretch. It’s my bike’s fault: it has run out of gears. On the high I’ve a sandwich and a relaxation whereas taking within the astounding view of rock and water beneath ever-changing clouds. Having earned (nearly) each metre of top by pedal energy, I really feel on high of the world.

Kieran Meeke biking the Ring of the Reeks in Kerry. {Photograph}: Tadhg Hayes
Again within the saddle, it’s a simple spin down a twisting mountain highway earlier than one other powerful climb/stroll to the highest of the Hole of Dunloe. A break for some chocolate, then yet another downhill and the ultimate grind again into the market city of Killorglin the place I began greater than seven hours earlier.

Legs drained, bum sore, however triumphant (it’s a decade since I used to be on a motorbike), I do know I’ve accomplished one thing relatively particular. Like anybody else who completes the Large 5 Problem in 5 days, I even have a certificates to show it and my identify on a board on the Reeks District vacationer workplace.
This a part of south-west Eire is encircled by the Ring of Kerry, a scenic route now a part of the extremely promoted Wild Atlantic Means stretching from Donegal within the north right down to the Cork coast. An limitless stream of sightseeing coaches and rent vehicles drive between Cork and Kilkenny, boosting the touristy Eire of musical pubs and retailers filled with tweed, tea towels and different blarney.
The Reeks District itself is a haven contained in the Ring, a quiet refuge for households who’ve lived there for generations in addition to newcomers who additionally love its remoteness, magnificence and clear air.
One in all these is Jens Bachem, a German-Irish advertising and marketing marketing consultant who labored in London for 20 years earlier than transferring to Kerry along with his spouse and son in 2017. After organising a vacation let on Caragh Lake, simply outdoors Killorglin, he joined a bunch of comparable small companies occupied with rigorously selling the area.

Kieran Meeke browsing on Inch Seashore in Kerry. {Photograph}: Tadhg Hayes
“Killorglin wasn’t talked about within the Wild Atlantic Means advertising and marketing,” he says. “We thought we must always do one thing about that.”
The outcome was the branding of the Reeks District as “Eire’s journey playground”. “Collectively, we checked out what the world truly had, in contrast with others,” he says. “We narrowed that down to 5 key kinds of exercise – ‘boots, bikes, boards, boats, physique and thoughts’ – with one key signature expertise hooked up to every. The notion of doing all of them inside 5 days is a stretch from that, so we’ve come a great distance.”

Bachem takes me for a drive round Killorglin, the neighbouring village of Glenbeigh and Caragh Lake. The nation roads are slim, many with grass up the center and rare passing locations. Thankfully, homes are few and much between so we meet just one or two vehicles. Stopping for a chat with an oncoming driver or a farmer at his gate is the norm.
I can’t take my eyes off the wonder round me: the Atlantic waves rolling in on one facet and the Reeks looming on the opposite – small fields, wind-sculpted timber and historic hedgerows, hills and moorland, rocks and lakes, rivers and stone bridges, sheep and horses, dramatic skies and wild sand dunes … There’s nearly a surplus of surroundings.
At Cromane seashore, Jens factors to an nameless industrial shed from the place native oysters are exported worldwide. Simply throughout Dingle Bay is Castlemaine Harbour, house to the biggest pure mussel mattress in Eire. Wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout are additionally caught right here.
Close by Jack’s Coastguard Restaurant, which appears to be like out to sea, is the right place to style this bounty: oysters that soften within the mouth, and chunky seafood chowder stuffed with wealthy flavours.

Kieran Meeke’s night-time paddleboarding in Kerry. {Photograph}: Tadhg Hayes
Jack’s is one in a surprisingly extensive alternative of superb native eating places at which appetites labored up within the Reeks District might be happy. Two grand inns on Caragh Lake, Carrig Home and Ard na Sidhe, open their superb eating to non-residents,and in Killorglin there’s Nick’s Seafood Restaurant, the Sol y Sombra Tapas Bar, Bianconi, and Kingdom 1795.

Nonetheless recovering from my Large 5 journey, I take a leisurely night drive across the Ring of Kerry. The slim highway twists by villages and round cliffs, seldom dropping sight of the ocean. With nightfall falling, the vacationer buses have left, and everybody else has gone to their very own sanctuaries.
At a distant lookout level, there may be one parked automotive. Two ladies stand beside it providing smartphones stiff-armed to the reddening solar within the west. The silence after I flip off my engine is full of birdsong, then a cow mooing. A canine barks in response, and a solitary cockerel crows. I chortle on the cliche.
The ladies drive off, leaving me alone with the view. Under me is a bucolic scene of stonewalled fields and cottages with image home windows going through the ocean. However my eyes are drawn again inland, the place the excessive Reeks behind nonetheless catch the sunshine, calling me to a brand new journey tomorrow.
• For data on the Large 5, see reeksdistrict.com. A four-night bundle together with B&B and all 5 actions begins at €529pp (primarily based on 4 individuals). Guided ascents of Carrauntoohil begin at €55pp; a day’s kayaking from €65pp; two-hour browsing classes from €35pp; a day biking the Ring of the Reeks from €100pp (together with bike/helmet rent and sandwiches); night-time paddleboarding on Cloon Lough from €65pp. Lodging was supplied by Kingstons (doubles from €110 room-only).
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