Wild and rugged coastlines, long sandy beaches, lush green fields of wildflowers and heather, the Blanket Islands, ruined castles, archaeological monuments, warm Irish hospitality, and plenty of Guinness. In County Kerry on the southwest coast of Ireland the Dingle Peninsula is a spectacular stretch of coastline that forms the westernmost point in Europe – National Geographic Traveller once described the Dingle Peninsula as “the most beautiful place on earth.” Learn more about the 180 km Dingle Way, a route which takes the walker through a magical landscape that is home to, arguably, the Emerald Isle’s most impressive archaeological heritage.
Begin in Tralee and follow canalside paths passing by Blennerville Windmill before reaching the open moorland of the Slieve Mish range and the Finglas River, from where you can enjoy fantastic views of Mount Brandon (953m) the largest peak in the area. Section 2 continues up to Caherconree Fort (683m) and the summit of Caherconree Mountain (835m) before descending to the pristine Inch Beach, which featured in the film Ryan’s Daughter, finish in the town of Annascaul with a pint in the South Pole Inn, a pub established by Antarctic explorer Tom Crean. Head west from Annascaul along scenic country roads complete with high hedgerows through farmland until you reach Minard Castle located in a small sandy cove. The end point for today is the town of Dingle, renowned for its music, seafood and culture, with over 53 colourful licensed premises and plenty of friendly locals you won’t struggle to find somewhere for a good drink. Continuing westward you reach the turquoise sea at Ventry Harbour, take off the boots and dip your weary feet in the cool water before pushing on along the medieval roads around Slea Head which overlook the Atlantic and give views of the mystical Blasket Islands and also pass by historic forts and many clochains – drystone beehive huts.
Cross the shoulder of Mount Brandon and enter the Ballyhoneen area, one of the prime archaeological sites on the Dingle Peninsula, there are a number of groups of standing stones and a blanket bog, the development of which is thought to have begun in the 3rd millenium BCE and where the turf is still harvested in the traditional way. Finish up this day in the quiet village of Cloghane. Striding out of Cloghane you are rewarded with fine glacial valley views before reaching Ireland’s longest beach, Fermoyle Strand, a seemingly endless string of thundering waves breaking along the 11kms of golden sand and dunes! From Castlegregory it is a simple stroll to Camp from where you can continue on to Tralee by foot or take one of the most scenic bus journeys in all of Ireland to finish off your adventure on The Dingle Way.
180km – daily distances between 17 and 29km.
This walk is graded moderate and involves walking on varied terrain with substantial daily distances.
Kerry Airport: Flights are available to Kerry Airport with Ryanair from London Luton, London Stansted and Frankfurt. Aer Lingus fly between Dublin and Kerry Airport. There is a bus (30 mins-1h30) from Kerry Airport to Tralee. For bus timetables, see www.buseirann.ie
Cork Airport: Flights are available to Cork Airport with Aer Lingus from Bristol, London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham. From Cork Airport it is a short bus ride (20 mins) to Cork Kent train station, then a 2hr train ride to Tralee. For train timetables, see http://www.irishrail.ie/
By Bus around Dingle Peninsula: From Camp to Tralee and vice-versa there is a bus service, which takes approx. 25 mins. From Tralee to Annascaul there is also a bus service, which takes approx. 55 mins. Buses are payable locally. See www.buseireann.ie.