This walk is part of a fantastic circuit from Ross Castle to Kate Kearney's Cottage then up the Gap of Dunloe, continuing on down into the Black Glen to Lord Brandon's Cottage and finally catch a lovely slow boat ride back down the three lakes of Killarney back to Ross Castle! The excellent boat journey only cost €15 each (worth every cent) which was arrange by our guesthouse (Lios na Manach). Booking the boat ride in advance (6 to 12 hours) is essential as numbers are limited if you want to get the best boatman or there may be no space for the ride home! Ours only did one trip per day and therefore he could take as long as it needed to show you the sights and explain everything.
Parked at the car-park at Ross Castle (free) and got transferred the 15Km to Kate Kearney's Cottage for free (by our wonderful hostess from Lios na Manach guest house whose excellent idea it was and who arranged everything). There are vintage buses that will take you there but it will cost about €30 each. From Kate Kearney's Cottage we walked up the the Gap in wonderful clear weather. The views are truly fantastic. If you should wish (and have the funds), you can take a traditional jaunting car ride up the Gap and on to Lord Brandon's Cottage.
At the head of the Gap you walk down into the Black Glen. Take a left at the first junction to head due east. Follow the country road past the lovely Hostel and and follow the signs for the boats and Lord Brandon's Cottage. There is a good Tea Room and Cafe at the Cottage. Our boat leaves each day at 2pm from a jetty just 60m from the Tea Rooms. Only 12 people are allowed per traditional open clinker built boat. You then descend through wonderful scenery along the Upper Lake, the Long Range River, Muckross Lake, the Meeting of the Waters, past Inisfallen Island and finally Loch Leane before arriving back at Ross Castle ... a journey of around 21Km.
I think there are two boat companies - O'Connors and another. We had ours arranged for us with the other company who we thought were very good. They do limited trips and pick up at 2pm sharp at Lord Brandon's. Should you wish, the route can be done in reverse, but we think on reflection that the way described above is the best option.