Two Irish locations have made it into National Geographic’s list of the world’s Top 101 most scenic drives.
The first is no great surprise, the Ring of Kerry which is ranked 57th best scenic drive in the world. (Number 1 is the Cape Breton drive in Canada.)
Surprisingly, however, the second, rated 88th, is the scenic drive through the Sperrin Mountains in Northern Ireland which are praised for having “wild beauty, ideal trails and dreamy villages.”
As the local Ring of Kerry.com site notes: "It’s a road that takes you through 10,000 years of dramatic history. It’s a road that takes you from deep forest to the crashing waters of the Atlantic. It’s a road through rugged, majestic landscapes: where wild stag roam and where tumbling waterfalls crash into crystal streams teeming with wild salmon.”
As Tourism Ireland notes about the Ring of Kerry: “For anyone that loves the great outdoors, Kerry is a dream destination. This charming county has it all, with truly sublime scenery, exceptionally friendly locals, internationally renowned spas, gorgeous little villages and excellent restaurants.
"Kerry’s exceptional coastline is a series of peninsulas that open out into larger bays and give a totally unique feeling to the county, with craggy hills that tumble down into the choppy ocean below, and a remote, untouched aspect to the land.
"A drive around the Ring of Kerry or the Ring of Beara, which crosses the border into Cork, is an unforgettable way to experience the best that this awe-inspiring landscape has to offer. But if all that feels like too much hard work, then head to one of the utterly lovely villages like Sneem, Kenmare or Dingle and while your afternoons away eating fresh seafood, drinking creamy pints and listening to some authentic traditional music.”
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board notes that: “The Sperrins are bounded by the towns of Strabane, Dungiven, Magherafelt and Newtownstewart. A section of the gently contoured range spills south towards Omagh over the beautiful Owenkillew river.
“Seamus Heaney, who writes incomparably about the mossy places of Ulster, grew up on the edge of the Sperrins, “ they note.
The range stretches the counties of Tyrone and Derry from south of Strabane eastwards to The region has a population of some 150,000 and is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
* Originally published in 2013.