The Dingle Way is a 162-kilometre looped walk around the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry. It starts and finishes in Tralee and takes in stunning seascapes, mountain trails, quiet country lanes and green roads. The peninsula is also home to some of the best archaeological sites in Ireland with an abundance of Ogham Stones, standing stones and ring forts.
There are a number of ways to reach Tralee to begin your walk. It is a 3.5-hour drive from Dublin and a 2-hour drive from Cork. It is also served by train and bus, while Kerry Airport sits just 20 minutes away. Kerry Airport is served by regular flights to and from Dublin, London and Frankfurt.
Tralee is the Capital Town of Kerry and is home to the famous Rose of Tralee Festival. Among the sights in the town are the Kerry County Museum and the Tralee Ship Canal which stretches for 1.7km to Blennerville. The canal was opened in 1846 and is a reminder of how many people left the country by boat during that period, most of them never to return. Blennerville is also famous for its windmill which at 21.3 metres high, is the tallest of its kind in Europe. In order to maximise your experience, you will be transferred from Tralee to the village of Camp to begin your walk. From Camp the walk makes its way through a pass between the hills, to take you from the north side of the peninsula to the Southside and the village of Inch. Inch and its famous beach is just a short detour off the Dingle Way and makes for a great resting point. The beach itself is one of the longest in Ireland and was used as a location in the movie Ryan’s Daughter.
Shortly after Inch, the Way will take you to the village of Annascaul. Annascaul is most famous for being the birthplace of the great Tom Crean. Crean was an Antarctic explorer who accompanied Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on their journeys. He was a member of the crew of the Endurance which was famously stuck in ice for months before he and two others made an open boat journey of 800 nautical miles to successfully get help. He earned three Polar Medals before returning to his home of Annascaul to open the South Pole Inn which is still open for business today. It is said that his Polar Medals saved him from arrest or possible execution at the hands of the notorious Black and Tans who came across the awards while ransacking his property.
The next stop on the Way is the town of Dingle. Dingle is a busy seaside town which has long held nautical ties with mainland Europe. It was also a major disembarkation point for Irish pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The harbour is home to the friendly Fungie the dolphin. Fungie has been a resident in the harbour since 1983 and has a seen a whole tourist industry develop which is dedicated to him. The town is also very well supplied with cafes, shops, restaurants and bars. At one time the town was reputed to have more pubs per head of population than anywhere else in Ireland. There is still a wide selection to choose from with many of them having regular Irish music sessions.
After Dingle, the way moves into more rugged and spectacular terrain as it makes its way past Dunbeg Promontory Fort and a series of stone Beehive Huts. From here you will pass around the tip of the majestic Slea Head with fantastic views over the Blasket Islands. The islands were inhabited up until 1953 when the last islanders left. They are now home to huge bird colonies while whale sightings are common in the area. Dunquin would make a great place to spend an extra night giving you the chance to take a boat trip to the islands or visit the wonderful Blasket Centre which is on the mainland.
The scenery along the Dingle Way from Dunquin is some of the best in the country as you make your way along the coast and the base of the mighty Mount Brandon. On the far side of the mountain, you will come to the peaceful village of Cloghane which is hugely popular with walkers and cyclists. There were a number of air crashes on Mount Brandon during the Second World War which took the lives of aircrew from both sides and there are some relics from these crashes on view at O’Connors Pub in the village.
If you are looking for a short-break the Kerry Camino is perfect as it takes you from Tralee to Dingle over 4 days.