SEPTEMBER sunshine greeted enthusiastic walkers who converged on the Castlegregory area in strong numbers last Saturday morning to enjoy the second annual Castlegregory Walking Festival.
The 2012 staging of the festival, which was organised by the Dingle Hillwalking Club in association with Castlegregory Community Council, managed to attract walkers from Dublin, Cork and even from as far afield as Switzerland and Kansas City, USA.
A strong contingent from the Kingdom also participated with people from Listowel, Ballybunion, Lixnaw and Corca Dhuibhne ascending some of West Kerry's most spectacular peaks, before traversing sandy beaches and delving into its beautiful valleys.
The festival included six walks over two days. On Saturday, walkers engaged Mount Brandon in a 12km six hour trek. A 10.5km walk to Macha na Bó followed before a wildlife coastal walk took in Maharees with commentary and insights provided by ecologist Caroline Hurley.
The Kerryman caught up with the group in Maharees as they traversed the golden sands before a stunning backdrop of blue sea and sky taking in Tralee Bay, Kilshannig, Candeehy and Scraggane.
On Sunday, walkers set their sights on Garrán Ceoil Ridge, which took in the hanging lake of Loch Croichte, before setting off on a walk to Caherconree. The festival concluded with a nature and heritage trail to Loch a'Dúin where Kerry County Council environmental officer, Dingle archaeologist Mícheál Ó Coileáin impart insights on the valley's bogands and prehistoric sites, some of which date as far back as 2,000 BC.
Wa l k - in g guide Ge r Dowling said up to 70 walkers participated over the weekend. "The weather was fantastic and the turnout was great also, we are very happy with the way everything went," he added.