[09/09/2012] The Dingle Peninsula offers a bunch of great walks and the Dingle Way is easily the most famous of them all. You will see plenty of sheep on grass fields that cannot possible get any greener and you’d probably have to deal with some rain turning hiking paths into small streams. Check out my trip report from 2012 to find out more!
The Dingle Way in Ireland measures 162km along a circular route with a start & end in the little town of Tralee. I was walking parts of it back in 2012 together with my girlfriend at the time. While I already had a fair bit of hiking experience, it took her a bit by surprise to see how quickly the weather can change and turn sunny green fields into swampy and flooded pathways. Prepared with our Guide from Rucksack Readers, we started our journey as the Ryanair machine touched down in Kerry Airport during a pretty intense rain, which didn’t stop the cabin crew to welcome us to the country where “the sun never stops shining” 🙂 Heading out towards Tralee was easily done via bus and we ventured out towards a nearby beach with the sun coming out and making our encounter with a lovely Golden Retriever dog even more enjoyable.
On our way further down towards the Minard Castle, we had to experience some of the rather unpleasant moments in a hiker’s life. First off, the rain eventually kicked in and soaked not only us, but also the hiking paths with a lot of water. Some of them actually turned into small streams and there was no way to keep our feet dry. Eventually though, we got used to it and could get our smiles back as soon as the cloud cover opened up again for a little bit! The second obstacle we had to deal with was the sudden swarm of mosquitoes that apparently really love my blood type, leaving my body with hundreds of bites.
Being positive by nature, we still kept our spirits high and enjoyed the hike as much as we could. Taking a wrong turn and walking into the wrong direction for a while certainly didn’t help, but we eventually made it out of the bad weather and on the the right track, excited to see Minard Castle! On the way, we met another German hiker who was doing the Dingle Way on it’s own and was happy to join us for a while. Together, we explored the remains of the mid-16th century Fitzgerald castle, which basically only consists of the main walls nowadays. Great place for a picnic though and to sit down and relax a bit after another long hike. If you feel like it, you can also climb around a bit – just make sure you are safe and don’t damage any of the ruins!
After spending the night in one of the nearby fields in our tents, we continued our walk towards the next main attraction, about 25km away from Minard Castle: The Dunbeg Fort. These ancient ruins were built in the Iron Age around 1000 BC and consist of many smaller Bee hived shaped igloos made out of stones, as well as several long stone walls. Due to the location right next to an eroding cliff, the hole site had always been under strict supervision and is nowadays sadly closed. While I enjoyed diving back into ancient history and walking through the stone structures, I was actually more impressed with the nearby cliffs and coastal landscapes, making the area still very worth a visit despite the closure of Dunbeg Fort.
As you can see, there is plenty of attractions along the Dingle Way when it comes down to landscapes and ancient settlements. If you are looking for wildlife, you would have to be happy with the sheep that are scattered around everywhere and a constant companion on your trip. I was surprised to also spot merino sheep over here, easily noticeable by the long and winding horns and a great supplier of the famous merino wool outdoor clothing. The merino sheep here are not native to Ireland though and the main supplier for the amazing Icebreaker products are sheep coming from New Zealand. It was still cool to see some of those here though! We decided to shorten the hike a bit and took the bus back to Dingle to look for a very special inhabitant of the cute little town..
Common bottlenose dolphins are probably the last thing one would associate with Ireland, but only in the harbor of Dingle can one get in contact with Fungi! This dolphin was first seen in the area in 1983 and is already pretty old, yet still resides within the harbor and regularly says hi to tourists on boats, kayakers or swimmer! The closest we got, unfortunately though, was the little statue in town. After looking out for him for about 3 hours, we eventually gave up and continued our path towards the north. The sun was now out for pretty long periods of time and the hike became pretty enjoyable! Watching a snail crawling over the grass was the last living creature on our 15km hike towards the Mount Brandon Hostel. We arrived pretty exhausted after a long walk and were really happy to see that they had some great beer and food ready for us 🙂
The next morning was welcoming us with beautiful sunshine again and while my girlfriend had to recover from the previous days of intense hiking, I could not help but climb up randomly to the nearest mountain I could spot. Passing a local cemetery, I quickly made it up to the highest point and was rewarded with some amazing panorama views in all directions. The sun was still out, but thick clouds quickly rolled in and I was reunited with my better half again after a quick sprint down the rolling hills. With me also being pretty exhausted now, we were both ready to wrap it up and were headed back to Kerry Airport. Having had only 5 days in total, we couldn’t finish the complete walk anyway; but it was certainly a great introduction to the area and I should soon make it back there and then combine it with one of the most spectacular sites that Ireland has to offer: Skellig Michael – which you might know without being aware of it by watching the opening scene of Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi 🙂
Hopefully you liked this little report as much as I appreciated the little jump back in time. I am actually glad that I have so much material still to cover as looking at the old pictures from 2012 brought back so many memories. Some details probably got lost along the way, but I could hopefully give you a good idea about the Dingle Peninsula!
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post and would appreciate a comment below. If you want more, head over to my Travel Report page for full travel reports, or the Video and Photography pages if you are not in the mood for more text.
You can also sign up to my newsletter for regular summaries of my posts!