After hiking along the Wales coastal past for two consecutive years, we decided to go somewhere else for this year - somewhere else as in one island away. We first thought about the scottish highlands, but they were incredible pricy and we could not imagine that thrice the price of the Dingle Way was actually worth it.
We flew into Dublin, had a couple of hours sleep in a hotel nearby Dublin Heuston, which is the main train station and not nearby the city centre. The next day we took the train from Dublin to Tralee via Mallow. Even though the train had 30 minutes delay, the other one waited until we got there, so we did not have to wait another two hours. We arrived at Tralee, went to our hotel, stocked up and had a coffee at the city centre. Due to the upcoming football game, where Kerry was in the finals the whole region was in a bit of a exceptional circumstance and very colored but nice.
Fels Point Hotel Fels Point Hotel - We somehow booked this hotel and got a confirmation under the old hotel name and it took us some time to find it. Even though it is a huge hotel with lots of rooms and quite anonymous - and bus loads of tourists. Also the waiter during dinner was really unfriendly, so no recommendation here. There are better hotels more in the city centre I suppose. The room and breakfast were ok though.
The journey starts. You pass by the southern end of Tralee and the path leaves you on some street for quite some time, even though there is no traffic. After about 1.5 hours you finally get to the hiking path up a the hills along the sea. Dont be afraid of horses being on the path or near the gates, they were all calm and relaxed. You are going along the path and above the sea for a long time until a more difficult hike over rock fragments makes the walk a bit more tedious, especially on your first day with the heavy backpack. We had one blocker as a herd of cows blocked a small fraction of the path - luckily the range land next to the path could be used instead. If you rely on google maps for your bed and breakfast: save some time and follow the signs instead of trusting maps. All the bed and breakfasts are down the hill in Camp next to the main road, even though google maps tells you different. Note that Camp does not seem to have any supermarket.
Camp Junction House - B&B with an awesome view. Right across the street is a pub with food, and if that pub is not sufficient there is another one 150m down the road.
This is a rather short tour (about 12km) and most people go directly from Camp to Annascaul. All I can say is: Do not. Have a quick and relaxing day tour and then enjoy your time at Inch Beach, which is a wonderful long beach. As the walk itself basically crosses the peninsula from north to south, there is no water to see all the way. The first part goes on an untraveled road, where es the second one goes across huge rangeland until it leads you back to a road and then goes to a small path until you have to leave the path to go into Inch. Inch has a nice restaurant right at the beach as well as a small shop, which you can use to restock with water. There is also another restaurant nearby, which we did not test. Both seem to have real coffee though. :-)
Inch Beach Guesthouse - Nice B&B, great view over the whole beach. Good breakfast, good price.
A rather short walk today (7km), which does not lead along the coast, but rather away from it. The last half of the way is directly along a quiet road without anything to see left or right. Annascaul itself is quite touristic and has quite a few pubs and B&Bs given its size. There is also at least one small shop (which we found). If you want to go the coast from here (we had some time this day), it is a bit tricky as you need to pass a main road without any room for walkers.
The Old Anchor Inn - Quite a walker B&B. Most of the people there were walking the Dingle Way, also from many different nations. Breakfast and hosts were nice.
The first longer tour of our our trip with round about 22km. Again you are not walking along the water and the first two thirds of the way are along streets, but the last part is really great, before you get into Dingle. We decided to stay for two days in Dingle, so we checked out Dingle Ocean World, which is really nice. There is also a huge supermarket nearby the harbour and quite a few restaurants and pubs around as well as ATMs. If you want to eat really nice, Ashe’s is an awesome restaurant. Another nice one is Fenton’s.
Murphys Pub - Murphys Pub is a nice B&B right at the main street. Spatious room, good breakfast, but we were right above the kitchen ventilation, so had a not-so-fresh smell of fish & chips in our room.
Yet another short walk (remember it is holiday for us), which goes again most of the time on roads and not on walking paths. We got soaked up really badly on this on day and even all our raincovers (neither on our clothes nor on our backpacks) could keep anything dry. On the upside we had plenty of time at the afternoon, when the weather brightened up again, which we used to walk along Ventry Beach. Ventry itself is pretty small, but has a pub and a very small shop.
The Plough B&B - Nice B&B, which is almost directly at the path and signposted. Very friendly host and an awesome view over ventry beach. Note that the location on google maps is pretty wrong.
This day is the most one of the most awesome routes of the whole tour. Finally we get to see the atlantic. And we had awesome weather. The path starts going along the whole ventry beach, then for a short time along roads until it gets steep up a hill and you are above the road which goes around the peninsula. You will get crazy views, lots of sheep and we had donkey following us for a kilometer and wanting to get stroked until it somehow was afraid to cross a stream. And then the highlight of the tour is the tiny beach of slea head, which features huge crushing waves and a small beach, where we sat for about two hours.
An Portan Guest House - Not really a B&B but rather a couple of bungalows. There seem to be no restaurants nearby, but the guest house cooks for guests in the evening. There is also a very small pub called Krugers in 2 minutes walking distance, which seems to owned by some old lady and is nice to have a good night beer.
Another longer tour today. Looking at the map it felt like we were crossing half of the map in a single day. Again it started with awesome weather. We went up a hill, got some coffee at a pottery and did a break at a small beach bay before taking a long walk along several roads, which then get us back to another huge bay, that takes more than two hours to walk along. After being pushed again away from the water, the path goes directly along the cliffs until you hit Feohanagh. Finally you go back into the country side to Cuas. This day was basically a ghost day for us, as we almost did not meet any people. The reason for this was, that the national soccer final with Kerry was on. When we arrived at our B&B, we got handed over a key, but the owner quickly rushed back to the game. :-)
An Bothar Pub - As Cuas is in the middle of nowhere, we were quite thankful, that this B&B was also a Pub and a restaurant. Also we were quite tired after this day as it was really hot.
This is the hardest and toughest tour of the whole walk. I would not recommend doing this trip if there was a lot of rain the days before. Right at the start the walk goes steep up the Mount Brandon. This is already a bit slippery and quite wet, even though there was not any rain for a couple of days. However, getting up is really easy compared to getting down. The way down is far more steep and slippery and is exhausting with a heavy backpack. As the whole area is basically very swamp like, you are quite happy when you get back a regular path. The rest of the way is on paths or roads and takes a fair amount of time, so we were very happy, when we were finally at Mount Brandon Lodge - which again is completely misplaced on google maps.
Mt Brandon Lodge - A small B&B at the beginning of Cloghane. At the end of the village there is a small bakery/super market you can use to restock. The village itself features two pubs for food in the evening.
Another very nice day tour, which leads for hours along the beach. It starts in Cloghane, leads for a couple of kilometres along a road until you hit the beach, which leads you straight to Fahamore. Do not underestimate the length of the beach though. There is not a lot to see in Fahamore, however the restaurant Spillane’s Bar over there is really good. No supermarkets here though.
Harbour House & Leisure Center - More like a small hotel, which also has its own pool and offers diving courses in the nearby bay. We were the only guests there one day and one more was there the next day, so it was pretty out of season already.
Another more rain ridden day at the beginning, when you begin to walk down the other side of the mini peninsula again. You get directed back off the beach and on again, and need to go land inward at a small parking lot, where we could not spot a sign. There is a small cafe as well as a huge supermarket in the village, perfect to restock.
Finglas House B&B - Didnt like this B&B a lot. No TV, no water boiler in the room. However the owner made us an early breakfast to catch the bus back to Tralee in the early morning, which goes almost right in front of the house. Next to the B&B is a pub and a restaurant.
We went back to Dublin via train the next day. Stayed right in the Temple Bar, where the action was. And I have to admit, that was too much after so much quiet days. Tons of drunk people and stag parties, extremely crowded and expensive. However, if you ever want to eat lebanese, check out The Cedar Tree in St. Andrews Street, which was really delicious.
We stayed at the The Morgan Hotel, which is a nice hotel, well insulated against the outside noise. However next time I’d appreciate non-transparent curtains in the bathroom.
The Ordnance Survey Maps are completely sufficient. The main reason is the exceptional signing of the path. It is really good and everywhere, with very few exceptions, so that you actually start worrying if you do not see a sign for a couple of minutes. Very well done. You need Series 70 and Series 71 in order to cover the whole area. If you can read german, this little book is also helpful, though sometimes a bit out of date. Another useful resource might be the official homepage.
The only thing we changed in our gear compared to last year was not wearing boots, but low hiking shoes, as this was pretty much flat territory. You do need a scarf, as it was really windy most of the time and the most worn cloth were not shirts, but our longsleeves (merino is awesome, we should get such shirts as well). And we may need to spent some more money in breathable rain jackets.
As every tour we did so far, this one was amazing as well. It’s incredibly refreshing to step out of your everyday life for two weeks, and thats what holidays makes holidays - no notebook, irregular internet connections and tons of ebooks help me a lot to refresh, even though it can be physically exhausting (or its just raining the whole day). However be aware, that the Dingle Way has a fair share of walks on streets, in case you are expecting one hundred percent nature.
If you do this tour in late September like we did, you will not meet a lot of people, most are campers just walking across Ireland. Holiday season is pretty much over. Interestingly enough many of the other walkers are german, seems to be quite the location for german hikers.
Last warning for the vegetarians out there: This is not going to be your favourite trip, but if you are ok with fries or noodles every now and then its just fine. Also supermarkets are more than we were used to.
You should also check the official site which lists more things, but was also slightly out of date when we checked it.