A B&B from yesteryear, sand, clochans, a sleeping giant and dinner under grape vines.
My B&B in Dingle is dowdy and cold and breakfast (egg and bacon, no choice) is only served at 9 (no choice again), so I leave before 8, have a quick breakfast in a café and am on the road out of Dingle early. Silvery light shines over the bay on a bright, fresh morning.
The roads get smaller before the route turns off up another muddy boreen that brings me onto the road down into Ceann Trá (Ventry. I am deep into the Gealtacht (Irish-speaking) region now and in the Oifig an Phoist, (Post Office) I hear Irish being spoken by everyone for the first time. I get a tea, a cinnamon bun and a nectarine and say ‘thank you’ in Irish but the reply immediately passes my ability level. “I just asked if you wanted a bag!” she says, amused.
I have a good chat with three women from Vancouver who are also hiking; we enjoy sitting in the warm sun people-watching.
Along the firm, pale sands of Ventry strand, gently curving round the bay it’s a joy to be walking.
Enjoying myself too much I miss a small boreen and go into a wide field full of cattle. I navigate my way around them before scrambling over a steep, brambly ditch intto the boreen where I should have been.
After a short section on the busy, narrow main road, the path begins to climb around the lower contours of Sliabh an Iolair (Mount Eagle), a few hundred metres above the road, following ancient dry stone walls on green, sheep-cropped grass.
I look down on the clochans1 that are scattered along this coast. Most have lost their corbelled roofs but I get a good vew of them from above, probably better than the tourists below, paying to see them.
Out to sea lie the Blasket Islands. The profile of Inis Tuaisceart (‘Northern Island’) is like a giant sleeping in the sea2 but he disappears as rain approaches preceded by a gusty wind.
I follow the now slippery path as it zig-zags up and down, clinhing to the stone walls separating the fields from the moorland above. The mountain is covered in yellow gorse and purple heather; even in the rain it is beautiful.
I filter water from a tumbling stream before continuing around the mountain towards Dunquin, tiredness slowing my progress.
A quick diversion down to the picturesque Dunquin pier before finding my way along a small boreen to Gleann Dearg (‘Red Glenn’) B&B which is delightful. I have booked dinner here and the food is excellent, served in a conservatory under wonderful grape vines. It more than makes up for yesterday’s dreary accommodation.
About the route
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25.5km (15.8 miles) in about 7 hours
Total ascent: 731m. Max elevation: 176m