Top Gear showcases just why Kerry’s The Kingdom
Regal, resplendent and renowned for her beauty, Kerry, or The Kingdom, was the talk of Twitter in April 2016 when BBC’s Top Gear filmed its road trip around the county, taking in stunning spots including Slea Head, Moll’s Gap and Ladies’ View. Host Chris Evans was evidently floored by the Wild Atlantic Way’s majesty and status as the world’s longest defined coastal touring route, enthusiastically tweeting “Best road I've ever driven on. Had no idea it existed. A great great day.”
Arguably one of Top Gear's best road trips, the gang were clearly charmed not just by the Irish welcome but also by the incredible scenery across which they put some Rolls Royce beauties through their paces - "Wow, did we love filming in Ireland. It was brilliant, it really was". The Kerry episode of the motoring show saw Chris Evans and Matt Le Blanc cruising across the lustrous landscape and even gate-crashing a local GAA match.
“We had to come and film in Ireland. We had the Rolls Royce Dawn and we had to have one of the most beautiful backdrops in the world” - Chris Evans
The Wild Atlantic Way encompasses breath-taking scenery and some incredible rugged, off-the-beaten track touring routes from the remote Donegal headlands in the North, right down to the picturesque peninsulas of Kerry and Cork. At 2,500km in length, it’s the longest defined coastal route in the world.
Want to recreate this awe-inspiring Top Gear road trip for yourself? Rest assured you don’t need to be in possession of a drop-top supercar to enjoy the thrill of the open road on the Wild Atlantic way, follow Top Gear’s lead and tour the exceptional route by car with these glorious touring routes, guaranteed to get your motor running.
Top 10 Drives on the Wild Atlantic Way
Slea Head, County Kerry
Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry
This touring route is ecstatically reviewed on TripAdvisor - and with good reason. It covers an area of astonishing natural beauty and part of its coastal stretch offers unrivalled views of the Blasket Islands. The most westerly part of the mainland, it boasts several idyllic beaches - and what better way to reward yourself after a drive than with a barefoot walk on Coumeenole strand with the Atlantic waves lapping at your feet?
Sheep's Head Peninsula, County Cork
Sheep’s Head Peninsula, County Cork
Set off from pictorial Bantry and loop around this evocatively named peninsula before finishing up in Durrus, just up the road from where you started. It takes in the entire peninsula and due to the thinness of the land here, you get fantastic views of the Atlantic on both sides. At 40km long, the journey can be done quickly, but you will want to stop again and again, not least to take a walk down to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse, nestled in a special area of conservation.
The Old Head of Kinsale, West Cork
Kinsale to Clonakilty, West Cork
West Cork offers some of the finest food in the country and there is no shortage of places to stop to eat, especially in Kinsale with The Bulman Bar in the adjoining village of Summercove celebrated for its dishes. The Old Head of Kinsale is renowned for its sensational sea views and stories of shipwrecks, this lush headland is also especially popular with golf aficionados. The 96km route between Kinsale and Clonakilty is full of lively twists and turns making the road a real treat. The Michael Collins Centre awaits you at your destination, where you can kick back and brush up on your history.
The Burren, County Clare
Burren Beauty Drive, County Clare
This 68km drive is the perfect way to take in the otherworldly stone landscape of the Burren. Starting in Kilfenora, a place famed for its venerable céilí band, it winds its way through Lisdoonvarna and up the coast to Black Head. Both Fanore Beach and the stunning Flaggy shore simply beg for an exploration on foot, and if you’re hungry, Linnane’s at New Quay offers some of the finest seafood you’ll eat on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
Ennis to Doonbeg, County Clare
Heading west along the the line of the Shannon Estuary, this drive takes you around the magnificently windswept southern tip of the Banner County and onwards to Doonbeg along the rugged coast. The sweeping beach here is stunning and, not surprisingly, a popular spot among surfers who are drawn to the perfect Atlantic waves that crash the shoreline.
Sky Road, County Galway
Galway to Westport, County Galway
Cutting through the rugged Connemara region, this route takes you high up into the mountains – giving you a panoramic view of the Atlantic on your way to Clifden. No trip to this evocative part of Galway is complete without driving the aptly named Sky Road: the panoramas that this 15km route offers of Clifden Bay and its numerous island are, quite simply, magical.
Achill Island, County Mayo
Achill Island, County Mayo
Achill Island and the Currane Peninsula on the west coast of Mayo are among the most remote parts of the country, which makes a drive in the region all the more pleasant as for some stretches, you’re bound to be one of the few people on the road. The views of Clew Bay and the Maumturk Mountains are spectacular and the sight of Croagh Patrick may just be enough to tempt you into taking on the famous pilgrim route to its summit.
Classiebawn Castle, County Sligo
Yeats Country, County Sligo
The mesmerising sights of County Sligo inspired WB Yeats’ most elemental poetry, and those natural wonders remain as captivating as ever. From Innisfree to Lissadell and onto Drumcliffe where the great poet is buried, a drive around the county is bound to elevate the spirits. The coastal road at Mullaghmore is simply awe-inspiring - you’ll want to stop the car to photograph the impressive and gothic-looking Classiebawn Castle.
Mountcharles, Co. Donegal
Glengesh Pass, County Donegal
There’s practically no end to the breath-taking drives to be had in Donegal and one of the most memorable involves the verdant Glengesh Pass. After taking the sharp climb, find a place to park, get out of the car and drink in that rolling landscape, including a sensational view back towards Ardara. Twenty minutes down the road and you’re into Glencolumbkille, where there’s no shortage of sublime mountain, coastal or cliff-top roads to savour.
Mamore Gap, County Donegal
Inishowen 100, County Donegal
Named because of its approximate distance in miles, the Inishowen 100 takes you around the coast of Ireland’s most northerly point. The almost exclusively coastal route ensures staggering views of the Atlantic and makes for quite the reviving drive. Starting in Muff, you take the road up the coast to Moville and continue north through the Malin Head loop and back down to finish in the small village of Burnfoot.
Porsche's on the Wild Atlantic Way
Looking for more Top Gear style road trip inspiration? Find out what happened when Porsche Club Ireland took on the Wild Atlantic Way last summer and meet the drivers behind the wheel too.