Dingle Way

92 miles, 8,200 feet, 7 days
 

The Dingle Way is situated in the south-west of Ireland, completing a circuit of the Dingle Peninsula, starting and finishing in Tralee, the capital of Kerry. Each turn in the path reveals a dramatic change of scenery from walking in the foothills of the Slieve Mish Mountains to crossing the shoulder of Mount Brandon, from the crashing waves of the Atlantic at Slea Head to the tranquil setting of pastoral farmland and on to lonesome strands of golden beaches, including the longest beach in Ireland. Standing stones, ogham stones and beehive huts are the most obvious archaeological structures en route and the South Pole Inn, a shrine to Tom Crean the Antarctic explorer, is a favourite stop-off point.
The first and last days of the official route follow the same route between Tralee and Camp. We decided to forego this section and make Camp our base, thus walking a complete circuit with no repetition. Our friendly host at Camp Junction House B & B kindly allowed us to leave the car at his place. Having booked all the accommodation en route, and organised for bags to be moved on the next B & B each day, it was a simple task to follow the well-marked route along minor roads, boreens and tracks, with the occasional footpath thrown in. Scroll down or click on the links below to see a brief account of each day's walking together with a small selection of photographs.

 

[Day1: Camp to Anascaul]

[Day 2: Anascaul to Dingle]

[Day 3: Dingle to Dunquin]

[Day 4: Dunquin to Ballydavid]

[Day 5: Ballydavid to Cloghane]

[Day 6: Cloghane to Castlegregory]

[Day 7: Castlegregory to Camp]

 

Day 1: Camp to Anascaul
13 miles, 1,140 feet

With much of the walking on roads and tracks we made good time over the shoulder of the Corrin Mountain range to arrive at Inch Beach just in time for lunch. Here we learnt that beaches in Ireland are generally referred to as 'strands'. After checking out the beach, where part of Ryan's Daughter was filmed, we climbed away from the coast and made our way to Anascaul, the home of the South Pole Inn which is stacked with memorabilia of Tom Crean, the local Antarctic Explorer.

Camp Junction House B & B - a top quality guest house

 

Looking over Camp we can see the shoulder of Mount Brandon which we will climb on the fifth day

 

The route is well signposted

 

Crossing the Finglas River

 

Lunch at Inch Beach . . .

 

from where we can see the Inveragh Peninsula - next week's drive . . .

 

and Macgillycuddy's Reeks

 

The first standing stone of the walk

 

The South Pole Inn was perfectly positioned . . .

 

across the road from Tom Crean's statue which was . . .

 

next door to Ardrinane House B & B - our second B & B

Top

 

Day 2: Anascaul to Dingle
14.5 miles, 1,400 feet A short walk from Anascaul brought us to Minard Castle, another location used in Ryan's Daughter, and the perfect spot for a coffee break. We then travelled inland through farmland and onto lower mountain slopes, along minor roads, boreens and footpaths with great views of the mountains. After crossing the Garfinny River we took a south-westerly direction to head for Dingle, the main town on the peninsula.

 

Lush green valleys are the order of the day . . .

 

and the sheep enjoys a roadside throne

 

The ruins of Minard Castle, where Rosy met the English Captain in Ryan's Daughter . . .

 

 

and the adjoining storm beach . . .

 

 

provides great seats for our morning stop

 

A spot of rain brings out the waterproofs . . .

 

 

and the locals check we are on the right path

 

Dingle harbour . . .

 

 

and just the place to come back to for our evening meal

 

 

Emlagh Lodge B & B is immaculately furnished

 Top

 

Day 3: Dingle to Dunquin
14.5 miles, 2,000 feetAfter a very enjoyable breakfast we made our way back through Dingle and on to Ventry Beach. This was our first opportunity to walk without boots and we made the most of it. Then we headed through pasture land and on to the lower slopes of Mount Eagle. Approaching Slea Head there were a great views of the coastline and cliffs, especially as the Blasket Islands came into view. After a brief stop at the cafe, where we found a very cheeky seagull, we headed down to Coumeenoole Beach, another of the locations used in Ryan's Daughter. It was then along the road to Dunquin and Glenn Dearg B & B.

The locals are out for a morning stroll

 

Ventry Beach with Mount Eagle in the mist

 

Time to test the temperature of the water

 

A kite surfer becomes airborne . . .

 

but makes a perfect landing

 

The remains of clochains, or beehive huts, litter the hillside . . .

 

but further along the path two larger ones are more intact

 

Coast road and cliffs make for good viewing . . .

 

as does the most westerly point of Europe, at Slea Head . . .

 

where we make a brief stop to stock up on the calories . . .

 

and a cheeky seagull finishes off the milk

 

Looking back along the coast . . .

 

as we head for Coumeenoole Beach . . .

 

another location from Ryan's Daughter . . .

 

and a great place for photographs

 

Gleann Dearg B & B, comfortable but rather cosy

Top

Day 4: Dunquin to Ballydavid
13.5 miles, 500 feet

After climbing out of Dunquin along the road we made our way to Clogher Beach, a very picturesque and sheltered spot. Returning to the road it wasn't long before we turned off to take in the delights of the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rocks below. The scene captured by the cameras, we carried on towards the Three Sisters - a much photographed section of coastline. Following the road across to Smerwick Harbour a short detour took in the Fort of Gold before continuing to Ballydavid.

The Blasket Islands are a little clearer as we leave Dunquin . . .

 

and pose beside a standing stone en route

 

Clogher beach is a beautiful secluded spot

 

Zooming in on the Three Sisters . . .

 

which are actually quite a distance away

 

One oyster catcher is clearly seen, but a second one is hard to spot - look for the legs on the left of the rock

 

Another view of the Three Sisters . . .

 

as the Atlantic Ocean pounds against the rocks

 

At the Fort of Gold a sculpture commemorates the 600 people massacred here in 1580

 

Skirting Smerwick Harbour we have a good view of Brandon Mountain, and tomorrow's route over the shoulder on the left

 

We are in for a very warm welcome at Imeall na Mara B & B

Top

Day 5: Ballydavid to Cloghane
11 miles, 2,064 feet

With a long road walk before the start of the climb over the shoulder of Mount Brandon, we were pleased to accept the offer of a lift from our hostess. Consequently we were fresh when we started what was described as a 'long, stiff climb that should not be attempted in mist'. In fact, it was a relatively easy, gradual ascent that was well waymarked. Whilst the beginning of the descent was rather eroded it was easy to navigate around the worst parts and soon we were on an easy track that descended gradually before joining a road that took us into Brandon. Now with time to spare and a lovely sunny day, we decided a little sunbathing on the beach was in order before continuing on to Benagh B & B, 10 minutes north of Cloghane.

Preparing to start the climb . . .

 

which isn't too steep at all

 

Ballydavid Head

 

Still climbing . . .

 

but a gate provides a good spot for a photo . . .

 

and soon it is time for a coffee break

 

Having passed the highest point, a standing stone . . .

 

is the focal point for a group photo . . .

 

before starting our descent - with some very big signs to guide us

 

Peat cutting is still actively pursued . . .

 

and the blocks are stacked to dry

 

An alternative use for a survival bag . . .

 

as we spend some time on Brandon Beach . . .

 

before continuing on to Benagh B & B . . .

 

with its great view across the bay

Top

Day 6: Cloghane to Castlegregory
18 miles, 900 feet

The colourful houses of Cloghane were a welcome contrast to the heavy rain of the previous night. After a short stretch inland we reached the longest beach in Ireland, our route for the next 6 miles. Firm sand made for good walking but the pebbly sections needed a little more care. Eventually reaching the far end of the beach we crossed the peninsula to reach another section of beach - but this one not suitable for bare foot walking. Turning inland again we soon reached Castle House B & B, albeit in rather damp weather.

Colourful houses in Cloghane

 

Preparing for our long beach walk . . .

 

is it really 6 miles to the far end - curving round to the left . . .

 

better be on our way . . .

 

crossing the streams poses little difficulty

 

What a day for . . .

 

a school outing

 

Someone on the sand dunes points the way . . .

 

but he won't be going far

 

All traces of sand must be removed . . .

 

before we put the boots back on

 

A curreagh - a typical Irish boat

 

Ned Natterjack's Pub - 5 minutes from Lough Gill, home of the rare natterjack toad

 

A rather damp end to the day - at Castle House B & B

Top

Day 7: Castlegregory to Camp
7.6 miles, 320 feet

On the official route today's walk would have been 17 miles back to Tralee but for us it was a short walk to Camp. After an initial stretch on the road we were back on the beach again. We were very pleased to find that the trail had been re-routed to stay on the beach almost as far as Camp. After picking the car up at the B & B we drove to the Blennerville Windmill just outside Tralee. Our plan had been to visit the mill then take a trip on the steam train. Unfortunately the steam train was no longer running - and looked like it hadn't done so for some time.

With the heavy rainfall during the night we are pleased there is a bridge at this ford

 

Time for breakfast

 

One more river to cross - treading carefully kept our feet dry

 

Looking across Tralee Bay to Camp and the Slieve Mish Mountains

 

The last stretch on the beach . . .

 

before a final group photo

 

A cormorant poses for the camera

 

Returning to Camp Junction House B & B

Return to Introductory Page                                                                  Return to top