Throughout the region there are magnificent views in all directions. Incredibly green pastures stretch as far as the eye can see, completely empty save for small herds of sheep or goats. At almost every turn there are spectacular views of mist-covered mountains and wild stretches of uninhabitable coastline where deep fissures have been carved, over the centuries, by the pounding waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The tip of the peninsula, west of Dingle town, is a stronghold of the Irish language and many traditions and customs have been preserved here along with the language. This is a delightful one-week walk and along the way you’ll enjoy plenty of good Irish cheer.
Your journey begins in the bustling cosmopolitan town of Dingle. Gaily painted houses lead to a busy harbour where artisan cafes and craft shops vie with traditional pubs humming to the sound of Irish music and song. In sharp contrast, the weather-sculpted lands beyond Dingle on the famous Slea Head seem to have regressed in time, isolated by mountain and ocean.
This is particularly true of the ancient pilgrim route that winds through stone-clad fields and fuchsia-rich lanes from Ventry Beach to the majestic summit of the holy mountain – Mount Brandon.
Day 1: Arrive in the lovely fishing village of Dingle on the western tip of the Dingle peninsula for the first night. This is a “lively” village, with plenty of excellent restaurants and good pubs. Irish music sessions are available most nights of the week throughout the year. Access to Dingle is via a bus service from either Tralee or Killarney, with all details available on www.buseireann.ie or from SouthWestWalks Ireland. Overnight in Dingle.
Day 2: Transfer by bus to Annascaul by public bus. Leaving the village of Annascaul, you head for Dingle. The route passes through Minard, with its 16th century castle, and the village of Lispole. It then takes old, narrow country lanes through Lisdargan and Ballingarraun before joining the old military road below the Connor Pass, and on into Dingle. Overnight in Dingle.
Walk Details: Distance: 20 km. Duration: 6 hours. Max. Height: 300 m. Country lanes, grass tracks and some road walking. Boots essential.
Day 3: Your route today starts just outside Dingle, passing the Early Christian site of Kilcolman and continuing to the glorious sweep of Ventry beach. From here it takes you on a beautiful and very historic walk around Slea Head, finishing Dunquin. This walk offers an opportunity to see ‘beehive huts’ at close quarters, and also a full view of the Blasket Islands. Overnight in Dingle.
Walk Details: Distance: 19 km. Duration: 5.5 hours. Max. Height: 350 m. Rocky and grass tracks, beach walking and some road walking. Boots essential.
Day 4: Optional walk on the Conor Pass or take a boat-trip across to the Great Blasket Island. Overnight in Dingle.
Day 5: Transfer to the tiny hamlet of Tiduff. Walk from here along an old military road to the eastern side of the Brandon massif, finishing in the village of Cloghane. This is a remote but spectacular walk – full of history and through country only accessible on foot. Overnight in Cloghane.
Walk Details: Distance: 22 km. Duration: 6.5 hours. Max. Height: 650 m. Grass mountain tracks with some rocky sections. Gravel tracks and some road walking. Boots essential.
Day 6: From Cloghane follow in the footsteps of pilgrims to climb the holy Mt. Brandon. Overnight in Cloghane.
Day 7: A wonderful walk along one of the longest and most unspoilt stretches of beach in Kerry. The route follows the sweeping coastline of Brandon Bay with its enormous waves. The mountains of Beenoskee and Caherconree form a majestic backdrop. At the tip of the Magharees Peninsula you pass the historic island of Illauntannig with its 10th century monastery ruins. From here you turn south, flanking the east coast of the Magharees to finish your walk in the village of Castlegregory. Transfer back to Cloghane for overnight stay.
Walk Details: Distance: 21 km. Duration: 5 hours. Max. Height: 100 m. Beach walking and some road walking. Boots recommended.
Day 8: Departure from Cloghane to Tralee town by private transport. From Tralee, connections by bus and train are frequent to Cork, Limerick, Shannon or Dublin.
Single Room Supplement: €250.
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Europe Ireland Outdoor: Land Rambler Walking Tours