Walking The Dingle Way Ireland – Kerry Camino
“An Incredible self-guided walk in the south west of Ireland.”
The Dingle way Ireland is a self-guided long trail walk on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry in the South West of Ireland. The trail is 183Km (114 miles) in length and is normally walked in a clockwise direction starting from the town of Tralee. The Dingle Way Ireland trail passes through many small beautiful towns and villages along the way as well as some of Ireland’s most stunning beaches and countryside.
The Kerry Camino takes in the first 3 days walking on the Dingle Way from Tralee to Dingle town. You can get yourself a Kerry Camino passport and collect stamps as you make your way along.
Myself and my wife Angela traveled from Dublin to the town of Tralee in mid Sept 2021. I would be doing the walking The Dingle Way Ireland, while she did some work and would bring along the luggage and meet at the next location. When we arrived into Tralee and booked into our accommodation with Mary at the Derreen Tighue B&B, which is very nice and quite central. We had some time to look about the town before going for a bite to eat at the Ole Brogue Inn,
Then it was back to the B&B to organise ourselves for the morning. After breakfast and a nice chat with Mary who let Angela stay to do her work, I left to go to the National Kerry Museum (Thomas Ashe Hall) where The Dingle Way Ireland trail starts from. I had a look about the museum before I started the walk and it is well worth a visit with some great displays and rooms about Kerry and its part in Irish history. The Roger Casement section is fantastic as is the Tom Crean section about his Antarctic explorations with Scott and Shackelton.
HilltopTreks Offer Packages for Self-Guided walks in Ireland
Walking Tralee to Camp: Approx. 19Km, ascent 370m – Right so, back to the Dingle Way Ireland and the Kerry Camino. The starting point is right next to the museum with a billboard of the route. I walked through the park with a section in it to Neil Armstrong. Then on-wards towards Blennerville and it’s wonderful windmill which is approx. 2Km outside Tralee. I had a quick stop here to check out the windmill and the model railway with some interesting facts about the old railway that once ran between here and Dingle.
The Dingle Way Ireland trail is mainly on small minor roads between here and the foot of the hills. It is very well marked and leaves the main road just shortly after the windmill onto a minor road. This is a much quieter road with very little traffic. It then almost reaches the main road again briefly before taking a sharp left and brings you up hill gently towards a car park at the foot of Tonavane. The Dingle Way Ireland trail from here travels in a westerly direction along the foot of the Mish Mountains for approx. 9km. There are great little stamp stations along the way to stamp your Kerry Camino passport. The views across Tralee Bay are stunning.
A great place to stop and have a snack is at the Kerry Camino Iron Celtic cross which also has a bench to sit on and take in the views. The trail continues on crossing some bridges and can be wet in parts with some inclines and declines along the way. Eventually it starts to decline towards the road but turns left before it and onto another grassy trail and small lane-way towards the ruins of Kilelton village and old church. From here you continue straight until you come to a junction with options to go to Camp Upper or Lower. I was staying at Teach Tae BB so mine was the lower road, towards the N86 and taking a left. Angela was already at the accommodation but feeling very hungry, so I had time for a quick wash and back out the door to the Junction Bar for some lovely food and a well-earned pint of Guinness or maybe two. It was raining heavy so the barman gave a lift back to our accommodation.
Camp to Annascaul: Approx. 18Km, Ascent 376m- The following morning, we were up early for breakfast and a chat with our host Kathleen. Angela stayed here to work while I headed of on my 2nd stage of the Dingle Way Ireland towards Annascaul. So, it was back up the hill I came down yesterday to re-join the trail. The trail continued on a small road and out towards the River Finglas, which I was just about able to cross with the help of a rope someone had placed here.
There is a warning here that says if the river is too high then you can go back around by Camp village. The trail today is mainly on small minor roads, old turf roads and lane-ways. This part of the Dingle Way Ireland brings you from the northern part of the Peninsula to the southern part. The lane-way just past the Finglas river was full of Blackberries due to the time of year and I helped myself to a few.
There were some small showers of rain but not enough to put on leggings and then it cleared later in the day. Once I left this lane-way it was onto a minor road that continued upwards for quite a bit, so I took a few breaks to enjoy the scenery. Then just after the brow of the hill the Dingle Way Ireland trail turned of the road left and into an open area at the foot of Knockmore hill. This is a very nice quite section of the trail when all you can hear is the distant traffic from the road to your right. There were quite a few sheep on this section also who all seemed to enjoy sitting on the centre of the track.
From here there is a nice forested area you pass through with a tap at one of markers to refill your water bottle. You eventually come out onto to the road for a short while and back onto another small lane-way which travels around the side of a hill towards Inch beach. This was great news for me as I had arranged to meet Angela here for a bite to eat and a swim. The views coming towards inch and across the Atlantic where incredible.
Angela was just a few minutes away when I arrived and we went to Sammy’s on the beach front for a bite to eat. Delicious Peri Peri chicken and scampi Goujans with chips. Then it was time for a dip, which was quite cold but lovely for my feet after a lot of walking. The sea was a bit choppy so I didn’t stay in too long.
Angela then drove on towards our accommodation The Old Anchor Inn in Annascaul, while I made my way back onto the trail and onto Annascaul. I had walked most of the way before my swim and it only took 1.5hrs to get into Annascaul. From Inch to Annascaul the Dingle Way Ireland trail was mostly old quite roads and some boreens. When you reach Maum you can see Annascaul straight in front of you down a very straight long road. Angela had called into the wrong accommodation and scared the life out of the poor woman who thought she had over booked. It was all cleared up though when Brian from our accommodation explained things.
When I arrived, I had another quick wash and then it was down to the South Pole Inn for some fish n chips and Angela had the fresh hake. The South Pole inn is the pub of Tom Crean and really worth popping into to see some of the artifacts from his incredible voyages.
Annascaul to Dingle:Approx. 23Km, Ascent 465m – The following morning after some breakfast, I arranged my luggage and travel pack for the day. Brian had talked about great beaches for swimming on the Peninsula and so I packed my togs again for a swim at Minard Castle. The Dingle Way Ireland trail starts on the busy road towards Dingle but turns left very shortly after the bridge at Annascaul onto a quitter road. This road then starts to rise gently and after approx. 4Km of walking along wonderful hedgerow you reach Minard Castle.
Hedgerows – Annascual
September and the starlings start to gather on the cables for their annual chatter and organise their long journey ahead. What they say or how they say it is a wonder, how they organise this epic voyage is another.
Fuschia is wild in red and wine with the rowan tree berries alive and bright. The songbirds are chirpy because the berries are plenty. The hum of the bees as they gather the fruits from the flowers.
Old twisted hawthorn, battered by the winds from the Atlantic with old man beards along their branches as they twist to shelter themselves.
Purples and yellows of the gorse and heathers, orange and purple of the Montbretia and Devil’s bite among the greens of the ferns. The odd holly tree and the bark of a farmyard dog in the distance protecting its quarters from some unknown stranger.
The blackberries are rip and delicious sit among the ruins of a family home from a time long ago, hidden by the undergrowth. The stone wall travels uphill with sheep on the hillside – Hedgerows are wonderful.
Finally, I reach the shore where a castle once stood and its ruins now remain, rocky stones and a sandy beach, the tide is out. With not much to do today but walk hedgerows and scribble, into the ocean now I went for a dip.
So, it was onto the sea for a dip and the water was not too cold – (Irish cold). Sat for a while had a cup of tea and started on with the walking. From the beach I was making my way towards Lios Pol to meet Angela for lunch again. The trail is a mix of small roads and old farm lane-ways, some of them were quite mucky. I had reached Lios Pol and left the trail for a bit to go to Kate’s Cross Shop, a great place to grab a coffee or snack along the way. It started to rain just before Angela arrived so we sat in the car and had some lunch. Then Angela headed for Dingle and the rain didn’t stop for the rest of the day. I had all my rain gear on but it was warm although raining so I was getting wet either way.
The Dingle Way Ireland trail continues along the back roads of Lios Pol before crossing the road and then up another minor road, this road then turns left for a bit. The trail then goes into a field and out onto some old boreens that are used for getting cattle to and from fields safely but they do a lot dunging.
The trail for quite travels between farms lands, old boreens and grassy trails along mountain sides until you come to the road that travels to “Conor’s Pass”. You cross this road and onto a quitter one and straight in front of you in Dingle town. This road is another very long entrance towards your destination. I arrived at “An Droichead Beag” Pub but I just wanted to get to my accommodation and change out of my wet gear.
We were staying at Murphy’s Townhouse BB which is right at the sea front on the quays. I had time for a quick wash, Angela was hungry again and we went just next door to the Dingle Bay Hotel, where I had eaten many times before. Then we took some time to explore Dingle and made it as far as Foxy John’s Pub and hardware store. We had a few Guinness and wines here before making our way to another pub with some live music, then it was time for bed.
I woke up with a “Dingle head” on me wanted to visit St James Church as this was the final leg of the Kerry Camino and I wanted to get my final stamp on my passport. When I reached the church there were some American tourists and their local guide, so I hung about to listen to him. Then he got the key for the church and we all entered. It was an American Pilgrimage group and once the guide had given a great history of Dingle, the church and its connection to Spain and Santaigo, the group started to sing some Psalms in Latin. A perfect way to finish my pilgrimage that I didn’t know I was on. I thanked them for letting me listen and got my final stamp on my passport.
Now onto get my stuff ready for today’s walk to Dunquin.
Dingle to Dunquin: Approx. 23Km, Ascent 413m – After I had my breakfast and picked some snacks from Supervalu I made my way to the tourist office on the Quays to start today’s walk. The Dingle Way Ireland trail brings you out the west side of Dingle along the coast, over the bridge at the Distillery and alongside a busy road for a bit. Then it turns of to the right up a quieter road for about 2km and takes another right for about 500m and turns up a lovely grassy to the left. The Dingle Way Ireland trail gradually starts to rise and I took a few stops to look behind me at the views over Dingle. Eventually you reach a farm house and come back out onto another road. The trail takes a left here down towards Ventry, you turn into your right through an old farm and back out onto another road towards the beach.
I had planned on meeting Angela here, so I left the trail briefly and went up to my left to Quinn’s of Ventry for a bite to eat, Angela arrived shortly after me. The sun was beaming at this stage and we sat under an umbrella and enjoyed the views and the food. Then Angela went onto our next accommodation while I continued on with the Dingle Way.
The next part of the Dingle Way Ireland trail from Ventry was stunning. It starts with a wonderful walk the whole length of the beach and I was very tempted to go for another dip here. Then at the top of the beach you walk along very quiet country roads, old boreens and some farmlands as you make your gradually towards Mt Eagle. The trail passes alongside some of the most incredible views here as it’s makes its way more inland and gains some ground.
You will turn into some very old farmland and roadways complete with some ancient forts (over 5000 years old) and fairy rings, making your way towards Dunbeg. Using old pathways that people would have traveled for hundreds of years. By old farm houses, ruins and stone walls. You will continue to gain ground as you make over the shoulder of Mt Eagle and Slea head. The trail follows alongside an old stone wall and you will notice many rounded man-built features below you called “Bee-hive huts”, ancient dwellings that communities would have lived in in this part of Ireland. Eventually you reach the top of the shoulder and start to make your way around the other side of the hill. As you do the Blasket Islands and the Skelligs sit out in front of you.
This may feel like the very tip of Ireland as it is in many ways. The Dingle Way Ireland trail flattens out and starts to Descend as you make your way towards Dunquin. The trail zig-zags down towards an old port and eventually you come out just at “Tig Slea Head”. Continue on this road following the signs for the Dingle way passing along a busy road and then onto a smaller towards the Blaskets Visitor Centre and the old port of Dunquin.
This section of The Dingle Way Ireland is very difficult to put into words but is absolutely stunning. I went straight to Krugers bar and met Angela for a drink and a bite to eat, delicious pizza. Its not unusual to hear people talk Irish in this part of the Dingle Peninsula. Dunquin would have a g=huge connection with the Blaskets and many people come here to learn the Irish language.
It was a long day of walking and the tiredness hit me hard and when I got to my accommodation I collapsed into bed.
Dunquin to Ballydavid (Baile na nGall): Approx. 16Km – then onto An Bothar Pub (+ 7Km) Ascent 170m. = I was up early this morning to catch up on some emails and keep my trail notes up to date. I have been taking notes as I have walking along in a small notepad. After a lovely breakfast from Lelia in the Glenn Dearg BB, I organised my gear for today’s walk. I would be staying here for 2 nights so didn’t have to pack up the luggage today which was nice.
Today’s walk is mainly on the flat apart from a small rise over An Ghraig towards Clougher beach. Leaving from the Blasket centre in Dunquin, which is well worth a visit. The centre tells the story of island life just of the coast of the Dingle peninsula and the writers who lived here who wrote books such as he Islandman, Twenty Years A-Growing, and Peig.
The Dingle Way Ireland trail continues straight up the road away from the centre and starts to gain some heights. The first thing you’ll notice are the 3-sisters headlands and the fine beaches. The trail leads you over this hill and out onto another road close to the Louis Mulcahy Pottery centre. I had a quick potter around the pottery before continuing on the trail towards Clougher beach. There is a short 2Km loop trail here that brings you onto the headland above.
Moving more inland now away from the beach you will see Mt Brandon sitting in front of you, in the clouds usually. You’ll be traveling on a mix of smaller roads until you reach Gorta Dubha and you take a right here follow this trail and you will eventually come to an incredible long beach near “Dun an Oir~. Now its time to lose the boots for a while and walk bare foot along the sea, letting the cool waters caress your feet. You will need to put back on places to come of the beach at certain times, pass through small car parks, wine strand and back onto another beach all the way towards “An Mhuiriocht”.
Here you join back onto a small road and follow the Dingle Way signs to Baile na nGall (Ballydavid). Finding Ballydavid can be confusing because if you use your Google search it will bring you on a further 2Km. I was talking to a local here about this and he told me that the whole area here is now called Ballydavid. There was an old pier further up the coastline that was called Ballydavid Pier but it closed and was moved to Baile ns nGall, which is when this became known as Ballydavid. Anyway Ballydavid is beautiful and you enjoy some lunch at Tigh T P overlooking the pier and its small beach.
This could be the finish of you walk today and you are staying in one of the many fine accommodations here. I was planning on stopping here but it was a lovely day and I had only walked 15Km so I decided to keep on a little further. I was also thinking that Angela would get lost if I sent here the location for Ballydavid.
The trail continues along the coastline on a grassy track overlooking the Ocean. Follow this coastline track all the way to An Fheothanach approx. 4Km. Then you start to move inland again along a mix of roads and small boreens. You will pass by a local national school where you turn left and the about 500m you turn right by An Riasc BB. Continue on here up a narrow grassy lane-way to a river and bridge crossing. Passing now through fields and small tracks over some stiles you eventually come out onto the road near “An Chlais” turn left here and An Bothar Pub is just 500m to the left.
I arranged to meet Angela here and its was a sight for my now sore feet, I ordered a big glass of Rock shandy with ice, it had been a beautiful with the sun shining all day. When Angie arrived, we decided to eat here as the food looked great and it was. I would recommend the Scallops and Monkfish if they have them on, I had the chicken burger which was also very good.
Then we made our back towards Dunquin with a stop at Ventry beach for an evening swim.
Tomorrows walk looks a little tough getting over the shoulder of Mt Brandon, so another early night after a long day
Now, I’m writing this up before breakfast and need to get my gear sorted for today’s section of the Dingle Way.
Bothar Pub to Cloughane: Approx 23Km via side of Mt. Brandon – Staring from “An bother Pub” the trail took me along apart of the busy road for about 200m before turning right onto smaller roads. I followed these roads with their twist and turns until I came to a small car park at Baile na Babha. The clouds were lying low over the pass and the rain had already started. I put on my rain gear and was feeling warm already, it was a steady climb for here up over the shoulder of Mt Brandon at Mas an Tiompain. I met some American walkers Ryan and Tim that I had been bumping into over the past few days. We ended up walking much of this day together. The ground here can be very wet and sloppy so it would be a good idea to wear leg gaiters.
I was delighted to have the company on this section as it distracted for the slog in front of me. We chatted as we moved upwards, while keeping an eye on the ground to avoid the very parts and slippery rocks. There are a false summit and it is important to keep an eye out for the markers on this section, particularly in the mist or clouds. The markers do have a bright orange tag on them which helps a lot.
Eventually at the top, you will know you are at the top by as there is a fence here and also an incredible Ogham stone, pre-Celtic markings on it with an early Christian cross. My new American friends were fascinated by this as I was. From here the trail started to descend and we took a break here out of the wind. There are new rocks and steps being here on the descent and they have made a great difference.
We made our way down using the new steps until we came a good mountain trail and the weather had cleared up. I had been telling Ryan and Tim about the walk here called “An Sas”, which we would pass on the way down so we decided to leave the trail for a bit and take a look.
An Sas (The sauce) is a coastal walk above a steep inlet on the coastline, and was incredible to see and we were glad we took the small diversion. We also found a set of binoculars which didn’t really work with all the damp in them but Ryan was actually doing a master in Optics so we agreed he would the best person to fix them.
We eventually came of the hill following the mountain trail and out onto the road. Th etrail then twists and turns along small country roads bring you up towards Brandon Point and quay. The views across the sea and over Brandon Bay were stunning and I think has a blackberry addiction that he may need to get looked at when he returns home. I had to say goodbye to the lads at Brandon as they had an appointment with a plate of chips at Murphy’s Pub and I was meeting Angela in O’Connors. I made my way back towards Cloughane as the trail went in and out of the main road to safer quieter ones. I eventually made it to my accommodation with sore feet as the had been wet most of the day and the mileage was taking it’s toll.
I had a lovely shower at our accommodation the “Mount Brandon Lodge”. Afterwards we went to O’Connors Pub for a bite to eat. The sun was setting over Brandon Bay and the weather was looking good for tomorrow’s trail, a little flatter and drier I was hoping and maybe another swim.
Cloughane to Castlegregory: Approx 29Km on the flat, mainly beach walks and coastlines.
I had a bit of organising to do this morning and I placed my clothes in the garden so they could dry a little after yesterday. I had to catch up on some emails and pack my bag for another day of wandering. Bit of a late start then I went for a coffee at the local shop opposite the church, grabbed a few bars for the walk and chatted with Angie before she headed of to our next accommodation.
Today’s walk started out on the road towards Conor’s Pass with views across Brandon Bay and Mt Brandon sitting in the clouds again behind me. The road is flat and not too busy, its approx. 3 Km on this stretch until I reached another junction and turned left with another 2Km towards Fermoyle beach. Across a small bridge and then its onto the beach. This beach is one of the most beaches I have seen on any of our shores and reaches out for about 12km of pure sand. I have been told It’s Ireland’s longest. So, I took of my boots and socks and walked barefoot for the length of it. There were fisher men on the shore and some more active people windsurfing.
I couldn’t resist the temptation for a swim and I had packed my togs and sandals, the water was warm and it was so refreshing. I was very lucky with the weather today and had to some sun cream and keep my neck covered as I walked along towards the top of the headland.
Due to my late start, Angela rang me reminding me of the time and said she would love something to eat. So, I was almost at a section where I would come back on the road and met her close to Spillane’s Bar at Fahamore for some food. The Pub wasn’t open until 5pm so we had 30 minutes to wait.
It was well worth the wait s the food was incredible with Prawn Pil Pil and Pesto pasta, while Angie had the Pan seared Cod. It was so good we booked ourselves for the following evening. Betty Scanlon, who is one of the staff told us about the area and her husband Thomas Scanlon who offers mindfulness courses.
After our meal I decided to complete this section of the Dingle Way, it was 19:30 now and I knew it was starting to get dark. I continued on the way as it twisted it way on old lane-ways and small roads towards Kilshannig. Then it was out on the coastline once again on the far side of the Maharees. You walk along the coastline here for approx. 5Km until you reach a surf school and a caravan park.
It was getting quite late now and starting to get dark as I stepped out onto the road here for about 1km which I was walking very carefully with the torch of my phone on to warn drivers of my presence. Once I reached a bridge, I was able to get back onto the beach for the last stretch to Castlegregory. I nearly walked into the tent of someone camping for the night and eventually I came to a small road that led into the town. I rang Angela and arranged to meet her at the Spar shop here.
Once she picked me up, we made our way to the accommodation just 5Km from the town. We were staying at the Shores Country House BB. The place was stunning and I knew they had a bath and I had some Epsom salts with me. After my bath I went downstairs, where Angela was talking to Annette the owner. We had a drink here and got some local gossip then I was of to bed after an amazing day walking the Dingle way.
I had decided to stop here for an extra night and chill out with Angela and maybe get another swim in or a short forest walk, recommended by Annette.
You could also stay with Sheila at the Castle House BB in Castlegregory.
I have done many walks throughout the world including the Camino and the Dingle Way is a very special wonderful walk and I would encourage any who loves the outdoors, nature, beautiful scenery, coastlines, beaches, small old trails, great fresh sea food and a bit of a challenge to do it.
Now I’m going for that walk, Slán agus Beannacht.
Including accommodation, luggage transfer, maps and books with support along the way and local transfers if required. – Dingle Way Packages