The setting for Killarney High Ropes couldn’t be more idyllic. Perched on a wooded hillside on the outskirts of Killarney, it shares a base with the ‘An Óige’ hostel that has been operating from this location for many years. Many a weary hiker has traipsed up the long driveway to the welcome sight of the 18th century building at the brow of the hill.My first encounter with Killarney High Ropes was a couple of years ago when my son invited himself along to his older cousin’s birthday party. I had been meaning to check out what was on offer there anyway so this was a good opportunity to snoop around the place while trying to mind a bunch of 9 year olds at the same time.
How to get there
Located approximately 5km outside of Killarney town, Killarney High Ropes is situated on the R563 road that heads to Dingle. Leaving Killarney on the N72 road to Killorglin (Ring of Kerry road), take a right turn at the ‘Golden Nuggett’ pub to join the R563 road.
The entrance is a few hundred metres on the left hand side after this turn off. Head along up the driveway to arrive to the grounds of the hostel and the starting point for your High Ropes experience. The An Oige website has a very detailed “Where We Are” section that will guide you to their door.
If you are driving, there is ample parking space at the venue. The Killarney Shuttle Bus stops at the nearby Fossa bus stop and it is just a few minutes’ walk to the entrance from there.
The Scenic Route
For those that are cycling or are on foot, it is quite easy to get to the High Ropes from Killarney by following the trails through Killarney National Park.
A good starting point is at the Deenagh Lodge at the entrance to Killarney National Park which is directly opposite St. Mary’s Cathedral. From here it is approximately 4 km of a trip through Killarney National Park to a point where you can join the main road just a few hundred metres from Killarney High Ropes. The most direct route is to follow the Fossa Way path along past the playground. Alternatively you can follow the trails through the heart of the National Park and via the Castlerosse Hotel.
Be warned if you are walking or cycling via the Fossa Way, you will have to cross the main Ring of Kerry (N72) road at the junction by the Golden Nugget pub before completing the last few hundred metres to Killarney High Ropes.
Look out for this exit from the National Park to the main road. Be careful here as this can be a dangerous junction with cars traveling at speed.
Once you make it to the other side, there is a footpath along the roadside all the way to the entrance.
Learning the Ropes
So what to expect when you get there? From the outset, the kids were taken through a simple but thorough safety briefing. Getting to grips with buckles, harnesses and some basic rules of engagement was all carried out in a fun way by the helpful staff. You have to get the hang of clipping your buckle on to the ropes at various points but after a couple of goes, it’s easy to get the hang of it.
To the Trees!
The lower course is ideal for the younger or more nervous ropers out there. They are up in the trees and up off the ground but low enough that an adult can reach up to give a reassuring hand if required. Nervous parents are also catered for as it is quite manageable to get around the course at ground level as your Tarzan or Jane navigates above your head. The kids get a few rounds of the circuit and their courage increases as they progress! The route is great for encouraging the kids to push just outside their comfort zone but also provides plenty of safe resting spots along the way. This also prevents any bottlenecks by enabling the more monkey-like kids to pass through if needs be.
The higher course works on the same principle but is, of course, much higher. Walking across a shaky rope bridge or living out your circus fantasy as a tightrope walker is one thing at 1 metre off the ground. It’s a different thing entirely when you’re closer to the clouds. This course is also lengthier so it’s more challenging and will take some time to complete.
For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, there are two other activities to keep you occupied. Paintballing and archery both require accuracy and a steady hand and both will bring out your competitive streak. These activities make the place a great option for groups or parties as there should be something to suit everyone.
So there’s plenty to do here – and there’s even more fun to be had on the way there and back if you go via the National Park. If you’re looking for something a little different and like a bit of an adrenalin shot, Killarney High Ropes is as good a place as any to spend some time while in Killarney.