Dingle to Dunquin

Distance: 20km | Ascent: 370m | Time: 7hrs

Travelling west from Dingle along the harbour, the Dingle Way crosses the bridge over the Milltown River. The trail accompanies the main road for a further kilometre before taking a side road which leads through an area of low-lying farmland.

After around 3km on this road, there is a change to the trail that differs from the Ordnance Survey maps. The map shows a direct approach to Ventry, whereas the signage for the Dingle Way points to the north, joining the "Pilgrims' Route" for around 300m before turning off the road for 1.5km across country in a north-westerly direction. After passing over a saddle at Mám an Óraigh, the trail descends to meet a minor road which approaches Ventry from the north.

The Dingle Way takes a pleasant change of scenery as it crosses a beach for the first time. The trail draws a long arc across the sands of Ventry Harbour. This is an excellent opportunity to give some relief to sore feet by bathing them in the beautifully clean waters. Several small rivers feed into the sea along the strand and are crossed by bridge. This sandy section lasts for around 2.5km before coming back to firmer terrain.

After following some intertwining minor roads and tracks for 2km the Dingle Way then meets the main Slea Head Road. Again, the markings that are on the Ordnance Survey maps here are to be ignored as there are currently access problems to Cill Mhic an Domhnaigh. Walkers must take the detour along the road for a little over a kilometre.

Extreme caution must be taken when walking along this section of the road as it is quite a popular scenic drive and there are no banks on either side to climb and allow room for passing traffic. It is vitally important to walk in single-file to allow the most amount of space for oncoming cars. Always walk on the outer side of a bend in the road to allow drivers greater time to see you. After this long bend in the road, a lane to the right will lead back up to the Dingle Way as it is shown on the map.

The next 7km of the Dingle Way pass spectacular scenery on all sides as the trail skirts the base of Mount Eagle. At 160m above sea-level, the view over the Atlantic gradually starts to include the Blasket Islands as the trail rounds Slea Head. A curious feature that distracts from the view to the sea is the remnants of clochains - more commonly known as beehive huts. The mountainside is littered with them in various stages of ruin.

The last part of this stage of the Dingle Way finds the trail back on the main road for 3km before descending towards a picturesque pier that has become an true icon of Ireland through its depiction on numerous postcards. The next turn to the right leads to the nucleus of Dunquin. The continuation of trail ahead leads to the heritage centre, where the full poignant story of the Blasket Islands can be heard. An extra day and some luck with the weather will allow for a ferry ride out to the Blaskets and several hours to contemplate the hardships of island life.

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