Did you know you can see evidence of evolution in County Kerry? We visited Valentia Island to see the Tetrapod Trackway to find out more:
Valentia Island lies at the end of the Iveragh Peninsula, more familiar to many as the location of the Ring of Kerry. And on the island you will find one of only 4 sets of prehistoric footprints in the world! The footprints give an invaluable view of the transition of life from water onto land.
Finding the Trackway
Follow the road towards the Cromwell Point Lighthouse which dates from 1841. (Guided tours available daily Easter to October 11am to 6pm).
A car parking area for the Tetrapod Trackway is located on your right just before you reach the nearby Radio Station. (This amused us as we had visions of Tetrapods driving up in their cars!)
About the Tracks
The Tetrapod imprints are thought to date from Devonian times – somewhere between 350 and 370 million years ago.
This site is of international significance as it represents the transition of life from water to land – a momentous turning point in evolution and provides the oldest reliably dated evidence of four-legged vertebrates (amphibians) moving over land.
The other 3 sets of tracks can be found in Scotland and in Australia (Victoria and NSW).
Seeing the Footprints
Access to the track way is by a steep pathway down to the rocks. NB this is quite rocky as well as steep and won’t be suitable for buggies but kids will enjoy climbing down.
At the bottom of the hill is an information plaque where you can read about the Trackway before you make the final descent towards the rocks at the beach where the footprints themselves can be seen.
It’s quite literally awesome to think a creature walked across the ground approximately 350Million years ago and that the prints were preserved.
There are also cows and sheep in nearby fields to enjoy mooing or baaing at while you climb up and down, and the views over to the Dingle Peninsula are spectactular.
Some Other Things To See and Do on Valentia Island:
- Glanleam House, Gardens & Beach. Formerly the home of the Knights of Kerry, there are 40 acres of subtropical gardens dating from the 1830 to explore.
- Geokaun Mountain & Fogher Cliffs. Walk or drive to the top of Geokaun Mountain to enjoy 360 degree views at the summit, and spectacular sights from the viewing deck at Fogher Cliffs.
- Valentia Island Candles. A unique Candle Studio where children can make their own candles.
- St. Brendan’s Well. According to legend St. Brendan the Navigator baptised islanders at this well on his way from Dingle to St. Finian’s Bay.
- Bray Head Looped Walk. Hike up to Bray Tower, with stunning views over to Dingle and The Blaskets. The looped walk takes approximately 2.20 hours and is categorised as moderate.
- Skelligs Experience Centre. A heritage centre devoted to the UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can find out about the Skellig Islands while remaining on dry land – it tells the story of the Skellig Rocks from the early Christian monks who called it home, the sea birds that now inhabit the island, through to the building of the lighthouses & the 161 years of service on the island. Boat trips around the Skelligs Rocks may also be booked at the centre.
- Valentia Island Ice Cream. What more can we say except mmm ice cream.
Over to you now! Have you ever visited Valentia Island? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below.