My review of the Dingle Way, written partly as a memorandum and partly to help anyone who may be considering a hike on this wonderful trail.
After Herself met me at the end of my hike in Camp, we spent a few more days around Dingle and the sketches are from a few of the places we visited.
I completed the Slí Chorca Dhuibhne1 in eight stages in as many days. From the tracks recorded on my Viewranger GPS app, I walked 172 kilometers (106 miles).
It is a very well way-marked and maintained trail, there were only one or two places where the yellow ‘Walking Man’ symbols were partially hidden by undergrowth. The way-markers are very thoughtfully positioned too; one is placed just past nearly every junction to confirm that you are going the right way. Where the main trail shares a route with other local routes, I was interested to see some alternative ‘Walking Man’ symbols.
The start of the Dingle Way, beside Thomas Ashe Memorial Hall in Tralee, which houses the Kerry County Museum and Tourist Office is shared with the North Kerry Way and the Kerry Camino (the first three stages of the Dingle Way from Tralee to Dingle) but none of the signs actually mention the Dingle Way as far as I could see. I thought this was potentially confusing, although there is a map-board nearby.
The long beach sections are not marked so frequently but if a map has been consulted, this is not a problem. The only section where I had some difficulty was at the tip of the Maharees peninsula, but that may have been because I had my hood cinched well down against the rain and wind and missed a post or two.
Accommodation options are good. I used B&Bs, booked well ahead, because I prefer a private room and don’t want to carry food for stays in hostels. Dingle town is generally expensive, and I made a very poor choice there, but everywhere else was generally good value. I particularly liked Brandon Hostel which is a combination of hostel and B&B, with a simple but very adequate breakfast for a very reasonable price. Dunquin was the only place which didn’t seem to have anywhere for an evening meal so I booked into Gleann Dearg B&B where a meal was provided. That was, perhaps, my favourite accommodation of all, well worth the extra cost and the meal was superb, eaten in a conservatory under grape-vines. In all other places, I found a pub for food and, as far as I can recall, there are food shops in all the villages except Dunquin. Dunquin does have a hostel, I presume you would need to bring your own supplies from Dingle.
Some of the small boreens, especially around Ventry, can be extremely muddy and are regularly used by cattle so you can imagine what the mud is like! Gaiters really are a help for those sections as are walking poles which can save you from a sticky, smelly, tumble. Gaiters are good on the long beach sections too if you don’t want boots full of sand.
I didn’t find the climb up Mount Brandon to be too hard but the descent is quite difficult; very steep with large steps down from rocks onto wet, slippery, sloping mud. I could not have done that section without my poles, younger legs than mine may find it easier. The ascent is well marked with extra white posts and should be relatively easy to follow in poor visibility.
The Dingle peninsula is quite touristy. Dingle town and the section between Dingle and Dunquin is probably the busiest and at times the route joins the main road which is narrow, has blind bends and no footpath at all to escape from the large tour coaches. Annascaul is also a tourist honeypot around the South Pole Inn which has frequent coach parties during the day, but is probably quieter in the evening although I didn’t eat there.
The ‘Kerry Camino‘ sections from Tralee to Dingle have stamping stations along the way, usually a post-box on a post. A ‘Pilgrim Card’ is available from the Tourist Office with a list of the premises that will also stamp your card. I didn’t think I would be very interested in this but picked up a card anyway and did find it amusing to collect the different stamps. I collected 8 stamps but I didn’t get a certificate because the Dingle Tourist Office was not open when I passed. I have recently read that completing the Kerry Camino can now count towards the Camino to Santiago, but I don’t have details.
The Dingle Way is a great route. The Kerry Way has more remoteness so, in my view, just wins over Dingle, but only just. I did have better weather on the Kerry Way so perhaps my opinion is biased.
- For the pronunciation listen here https://www.logainm.ie/ga/91?s=Corca+Dhuibhne