Out of Tralee into the hills on a still, silvery day.
I make my way through Tralee which has an interesting mixture of wide streets, small lanes and a spacious square to Ashe Memorial Hall1, now Kerry County Museum, where the Dingle Way shares its start with the North Kerry Way. The first sections of the Dingle Way have also been re-branded as the ‘Kerry Camino’ and a pilgrim card is offered to collect stamps along the route. I am persuaded to take one by the Tourist Office receptionist.
Through Tralee on a cool overcast morning and along the still water of the wide canal brings me to Blennerville and its windmill. It is still working as a visitor attraction but not in today’s limpid air, its terracotta sails furled.
I am soon heading for the hills away from the traffic after getting a roll for lunch from the Gala shop on the busy main road.
I stamp my Kerry Camino pilgrim card at the first stamping station which is like a little post box on a post. I have to get at least 6 stamps for a certificate, but I can’t get very excited about that. The card comes with two already so now I have 3.
Off the road and onto the hillside on a path of sandy soil and stones, heavily eroded by walkers but a good surface to walk on.
The clouds drift over the hilltops. The air is damp. Streams cascade down from the hill.
At a larger river I collect and filter water, peaty brown and ice cold. Drinking it is hugely pleasurable.
I slip into a reverie, moving gently through the landscape. Horses, sheep and cattle watch me pass.
My pleasure is spoilt by litter left by walkers at each resting place. All along the path a trail of brightly coloured M&Ms jar against the dark soil; someone marking a trail or falling from a torn packet? I can’t understand why anyone walking through this wild landscape would leave chocolate bar wrappers behind?
The hooked spit of Derrymore Strand reaches into the silvery bay to my right. The bulk of Gearhane ridge soars above to my left. Ahead in the distance Mount Brandon has its head in the clouds; I will be there in a few days, on my way back along the northern side of the peninsula.
The Way descends to the greener landscape around Killelton. Past the ruined houses of the old village I stop at the Oratory, roofless now but peacefully quiet. A rag tree stands in the clearing, wishes hanging from its branches.
Down to the Finglas River crossing over stepping stones, but the water is nearly shallow enough to walk through today afer the dry summer.
Into the village of Camp – a village in two halves, Upper and Lower, both along the busy main road, and Kathleen at Finglas B&B. Later I eat well in Ashe’s, a low traditional pub with a fire blazing.
About the route
View my route in Google Maps
(Tralee to Camp section is the ‘pan handle’ of the circuit on the map)
20km (12.5 miles) in about 6 hours. Total ascent 485m, max elevation 160m.