Once more I want to help with the preparation for a marvellous hike. This time it is the Dingle Way in Ireland. On it one can hike around the Dingle Peninsula starting and ending in Tralee (Gaelic pronounced something like Traw-Lee), almost always with a view on the ocean. It is easily one of the most beautiful hikes I have hiked – coming short to Portugals Rota Vincentina (also known as fisherman’s trail) mainly due to the weather. For stages and accomodation look here (coming soon). But first a few answers on some questions you may have.
1. What is the Dingle Way?
The Dingle Way is a hike around the Dingle peninsula starting and ending in Tralee and passing through Camp, Annascaul, Dingle, Dunquin, Feonahagh, Cloghane and Castlegregory. It also envolves a hike over the app. 1000 meter high Mount Brandon.
2. I am confused. What is the Kerry Camino?
I was as well. The Kerry Camino runs from Tralee to Dingle on the same route the Dingle Way does. For more information on the Kerry Camino click here.
3. Can the Dingle Way be done on a budget?
It depends a bit how one defines “budget”. It is definitely cheaper to travel around South East Asia – but then again, the flight there is much more expensive. In my opinion, it can be done on a budget of say a week beach holiday on a Spanish Islands. Flights from European Destinations are quite cheap, meaning below 150 EURO both ways, if you book early (see below on how to get to Tralee). Accomodation for a single hiker will be at least between 20 and 65 Euro a night per Person. This gets significantly cheaper, when you travel with more people, because often in Bed and Breakfasts Single Rooms cost as much or only little less (5 Euro) than a double room. Throughout the way some hostels exist – but be careful to check how far outside the village they are situated. Many of the hostels are some 2 km away from the city center – that is a lot for a hiker and also means you’re a lot less likely to hit the local pub at night. See more on stages and accomodation here (coming soon).
Flights/Travel to Tralee: 100-200 Euro from a European Destination
Accomodation: 20-65 per Person per night (for a single traveller) for at least 9 nights = 180- 585 Euro
Food: 10-30 Euro per day per person (depending on weather you are cooking, see below)
This sums up to about 30 to 95 Euro a day per person plus flights/transportation to Tralee. For a popular western European destination that isn’t to bad in my opinion.
4. Are there any hikers hostels?
Yes, there are hostels, which are mostly frequented by hikes, but Backpackers and bikers also stay there. You will easily meet other hikers in these hostels. For accomodation, see here (coming soon).
5. How to get to Tralee?
The easiest way probably is to fly to Kerry Airport and take a Bus to Tralee. Depending from where you are flying from, Dublin or Cork Airports may be more convenient for you – then you can take a train to Tralee. Tralee is a small town with many train connections everyday – check on the wegpage of Irish Rail here. If you’ve never been to Dublin, the hike can easily be combined with a visit of Dublin as well.
6. How is public transportation on the island?
Depends. The bigger and most frequented destinations like Dingle, Tralee and Camp have busses regularly. But through some of the smaller places busses pass only once a week. Check beforehand how to get back to Tralee, if you do only parts of the way. The webpage of Getthere.ie can be helpfull to check. When in need, Taxis can be get and hitch-hiking seems not uncommon on the Dingle Islands – particularly when the weather suddenly turns people seem to be openly welcoming frustrated hikers into their cars.
7. How is the weather?
The correct answer to this probably is – it just is. 😉 Weather in Ireland and on the Dingle peninsula particular is very versatile. You should definitley expect some rain, no matter when you go and fogg is also likely to show up all year round. Try to go during the Summer months, but that will not be a guarantee for sunny skies either. But that isn’t always a bad thing, because sunny, warm temperatures make altitude hikes like this even more strenous at times. Just do it like the Irish and take the weather as it is. I did find the scenery beautiful even without sunshine. 🙂
It is best to check with your host in the morning, whether they find the weather suitable for the next stages hike and listen to those objections. When on Mount Brrandon absolutly follow the recommendations of your hosts, if they tell you you should not cross the Mountain that day (see below). Not up for that kind of weather? Consider hiking in Portugal instead.
8. Do I need hiking equipment?
Yes, you definitely need proper hiking boots for this hike. I often hike in sneakers, but for this trail you must wear hiking boots. If carrying your own luggage wear a proper hiking backpack and I absolutley recommend one hiking stick – it comes in handy on the ways up and down the various mountains. Hat, Rain jacket, pants and coat for your backpack are an absolute must have as the likelyhood of you catching eight completely rain free days in Ireland are zero to none. If you do not like your hiking pants to get muddy bring gaiters. However, if you hike in leggins, like I do, in my opinion you need none, because leggins get much less dirty since the ends of the pants to not fling about.
If you have none of these things and are on a budget get your equipment for example at Decathlon – they have good money to value products.
9. Is the Dingle Way difficult?
Yes. Do not underestimate this hike! Stages are often a little over 20 km a day, with significant altitude to overcome as well almost every day. The hike over Mount Brandon is a hike of 20 km in length, at the same time climbing and descending again some 900 meters of altitude. In addition, the floor can be quite slippery from rain. On the good side, with the exception of Mount Brandon the way is very well marked – I would say the best marked I have hiked so far. And again – with the exception of Mount Brandon one passes through several villages each day, thus having the possibility of cutting hikes short spontaneously for reasons like bad weather or physical issues, if willing to take a taxi to the next village (see below on public transportation). Weather can be nasty in Ireland and fogg and rain add to the difficulty, particularly when out on the mountain sides.
I would recommend this hike for people with at least some hiking experience only (at least some full day hikes).
10. Is the Dingle Way dangerous?
Generally no, at least not more than any other hike. By that I mean that every hike includes the danger of injuries or being stuck on a mountain in bad weather.
That no comes with a big “but”: I definitely consider the hike over Mount Brandon as dangerous. The path is not well marked – do not attempt to cross the Mountain without a compass or GPS! Coming from the Dingle side there is a 30 minutes part of the way from the top down where waymarkers are close to non-existent. In addition, if the path is muddy (which will be the case most of the time), you can hardly see a path at all. Let me be frank – you cannot see which way to go. The hillside is also extremely slippery. Add sudden fog to this – remember the weather changes quickly on Dingle peninsula – and you have set yourself up to a scary-ass day.
Only attempt to cross Mount Brandon after having checked with your host, whether they consider the weather suitable and DO NOT attempt to cross Mount Brandon when visibility is poor or when it is raining! Seriously consider turning back when you notice fog thickening around you on the way up. Trust me, I have been up there in the fog and it was scary as f*** (locals assumed the fog would lift, it did not). I recommend pairing up with someone else for that hike as well.
Dingle authorities are aware of the situation on Mount brandon and are currently working on better waymarkers on the path over Mount Brandon and improving the quality of the path, i.e. strengthen the path, possibly with ladders or planks. But I do not know, whether actions have been taken already or how long it will be until actions are taken. It probably will take until next Spring at least. Until there is confirmation that the path has been strengthend do take my and everybody’s warnings very seriously.
When you come down the Mountain the other side, there is a small shelter close to the path which is open for hikers. You walk right up to it, it is at the crossing where the path continues a sharp right onto a wider dirt track.
11. Do I have to carry all my luggage?
No. There are various ways of having your luggage transported and it can be organized quite spontaneously. Most B&Bs transport your bags to your next accomodation for usually between 10-15 Euro per day per bag. It can be a lot more expensive, if yours is the only bag transported that day. In that case try to find someone who is already transporting other luggage that day. In addition Dingle Way Luggage and Begley’s do luggage transport amongst others.
12. Where to get food?
Food is not an issue on the Dingle Way. Tralee and Dingle have huge supermarkets where you can stock up and every day the path passes through places that either have a pub or a store, where you can buy food. Some of them are particularly good – I recommend the house sandwich at Sammy’s Inch beach for example. Also, many of the bed and breakfasts offer lunch packages for around 5 to 8 Euro.
Extra: I live glutenfree. Will I find food on the way?
Yes! Ireland in general has glutenfree options available often. The Lidl supermarkets in Tralee and Dingle carry a wide range of glutenfree foods like bread, cookies and cake. Many of the bed and breakfasts also offer glutenfree food and lunch packages. And most of the restaurants and cafés on the way have glutenfree food on the menu.
(!) However, if you are a very sensitive coeliac you might have problems with cross-contamination, because often these foods are produced in the same kitchens with the same utensils and stored in the same places.
Here are some recommendations for places with glutenfree food that I liked on the Dingle Way:
- Sammy’s Inch Beach (between Camp and Annascaul): Sammy’s has a great house sandwich, which can be done with glutenfree bread! They also have a range of glutenfree cakes. Yum!
- Dingle has plenty of glutenfree dining options, including glutenfree Pizza at Paul Geaney’s Bar and Restaurant! Find some more tipps for glutenfree Dingle here.
- Penny’s Pottery Café in Ventry (between Dingle and Dunquin): Penny has glutenfree cakes as well.
- Caifé Na Trá near Slea Head (between Dingle and Dunquin): They have glutenfree cake as well – the brownies were amazing!
- Forest of the roses B&B just after Feonahagh is run by a former NYC pastry chef, who makes his own glutenfree pastrys.
I hope that answers most of your questions. For tipps on accomodation click here (coming soon). If you have any comments or questions left please let me know in the comment section or get in contact. I am happy to help! Aside from that I wish you a nice vacation, whether you hike the Dingle Way or not!