Dingle Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
June 1st, 2002 – by: Mariesplace
Dingle The idea to cycle the Peninsula had taken root in my mind after a visit in the summer of 2001. I had a longing to return and feel the road beneath the tires of a bicycle. The trouble with cycling is you get used to seeing and hearing everything around you and becoming a part of the elements and countryside you are in. Of course this spoils you forever. It is only then you realize just how much is missed when you are in a car. I have visited this part of the world many times before and it is only now I know how little I had seen. To say the Dingle Peninsula is a remote and very small part of Ireland is to make it sound "ordinary" and that would not do at all! It is rugged and beautiful wild and un-tamed.The scenery is a constant contrast and every bend in the road or brow of a hill brings a new scene. The weather can be rough and harsh a mist can cap the mountains in the blink of an eye, fine rain can soak you to the bone but before long the sun breaks through and the sky reflects the colour of the sea, suddenly the landscape is alive. You must remind yourself, it is the climate that makes this place a feast for the eyes, so haunting so perfect. I have also learned that it is only the way we choose to look at things can stop us savouring our surroundings, certainly not the weather, we should make the most of it all!
Killarney We leave Killarney and the beautiful lakes and mountains and head west for the Peninsula.The weather is dry but breezy, once we turn onto the Peninsula the wind is right in our faces and a very fine mist is falling, still it was quiet sheltered. We make a stop for tea and sandwiches at a little shop that seemed to sell everything including hot snacks, right in the middle of nowhere, lucky for us. I guess they will make their fortune from passing cyclists like us! We stop at Inch beach to admire the four-mile long strand, the wind is so strong it is curling the sand and lifting it high, what a sight. We have a couple of photos and away we go. We arrive at Ballinataggart House, camping ground and hostel. It is a lovely spot with views overlooking Dingle Bay. The wind dropped and the sun comes out perfect. We set up camp and arrange to meet Mary and Jane for dinner we are starving! It was a two-and a half-mile walk along the bay to the town.All four of us are full of our experiences, the girls telling us of their lovely jaunt across the hills and the thrill of the next few days ahead, and of our plans to conquer the mighty Connor Pass the next morning Yet again Bob and myself take to the road, relaxed cycling, enjoying the primitive landscape we meander our way over the Connor Pass the highest mountain pass in Ireland 1,500ft. We started in Dingle town and went over the mountains down to the foot of Mt.Brandon. Luck would have it the day was sunny and clear and the views from the top were awesome and the decent was one of the best white-knuckle ride I have been on…
Conor Pass As we start to climb the mist and high cloud start to lift, and there are patchwork pieces of brilliant blue sky, before long out came the sun! I think we were both surprised we found the climb taxing on the muscles but not too strenuous, we were just so wrapped in the spectacular views.We made many stops to take pictures, a bit of excitement came when a mountain sheep decided to jump or fall from a rock outcrop onto the road in front of Bob. Just imagine that tale; cycled thousands of miles but get to Ireland and get knocked off your bike by a sheep. All too soon we reach the "top" and a huge viewing point, 360 degrees of pure outstanding beauty! Lots of "tourists" were rushing around taking pictures before hopping back into their cars to hurry to the next "viewing point". Several people seemed a little surprised we had cycled here, still the day was young and we would be cycling back over the mountain again later that day. It was down hill all the way now. Away we went, hands gripping the breaks, flying like the wind we make our decent in 20 minutes. We both took a look back over our shoulders to see the mountain we had just crossed with a feeling of great satisfaction.Off we go now in search of food and drink.
Clougheen A sharp left was taken at the bottom of the Pass to a small tranquil village called Clougheen it was deserted. The sun was beaming now and we needed food and drink our energy levels depleted from the tough climb. Low and behold as is quiet the norm here in Ireland there is always a pub! Replenished, we cycled on and found a lovely beach, bikes abandoned away we went for a most welcome "dip" Back over the mountain we went as the afternoon drew to close, new views surrounded us. When we arrived back in Dingle we were on top of the world having just conquered the mighty Connor Pass and had to celebrate with a Guinness.
Dunquin Day three was spent traveling to Dunquin out the coast road via Ventry, famous for its horse racing along the beach.We stopped to have a drink and send some postcards at the "Post Office" it was a tardis. Here you could buy anything from a plastic spoon to a bottle of excellent red wine; the locals conversed in Gaelic, this reminded me of my school days. We collected supplies for our night on the Great Blasket Island an uninhabited Island since the last Islanders left in 1953. It was a breathtaking ride along the coast; the road fell away to huge cliffs and sheer drop down to the ocean. We made a stop at Dunbeg a prehistoric fort (5000 BC). A couple of euros to a guy in a hut, then a short walk down a field and there it was perched on the cliff edge! Time somehow stands still and you realize how precious our short "visit" on this planet is. It was well worth a look for sure. As we arrived to Dunquin we found the pier where we would catch the boat to the Island, we has just enough time for a Guinness and a couple of rounds of "toasties" (toasted sandwiches) a delicacy which can be found in most pubs in Ireland! The pub had lots of memorabilia from when Ryan's Daughter was filmed there many years ago.We made a mad dash for the Pier the bikes had to be left ashore. Laden down with all our gear we went to the boat. Most of the people getting off suggested we don’t go as the sea was a bit rough, heck we had got this far there was no turning back now! We were the only ones on board; no cover from the elements, off we went. The boat was lurching from side to side we were thrown around a bit but it was great fun! Fergal our " Captain" explained it was the Spring tides that was causing the rough sea, he was to stay on the Island overnight too, so there was an excellent chance we would be able to get off in the morning. It had been known for people to be stranded there for days. We had a date with Fungi so we had to get off!
Blasket Islands What a treat the amazing views we witnessed were mesmerizing, and it never seemed to get dark.The wild rugged cliff edges made me feel sick, one false step and that would have been it, never seen again swept away into the abyss. It was an incredible place time has forgotten. Life here must have been tough for the Islanders trying to make a living from the sea, and yet they were blessed with the peace beauty and tranquility the place oozed. We climbed and explored as much as we could until we could see the ferry coming across from Dunquin, sadly it was time to leave. The Boat ride back to the mainland was less traumatic. The sun had come out and all the mist and low cloud vanished. Looking back at the Blasket Islands they stand clear and majestic in the Atlantic Ocean. We made the long climb up the pier we were delighted to find our bikes still where we left them. Loaded down off we went on our way heading back to Dunquin.We came to the beautiful beach where the film "Ryan's Daughter" was made, naturally we had to stop and swim! The beach was golden and the sea was so inviting. Refreshed and renewed we left and enjoyed a relaxing cycle back to Ventry, along the rugged coastline. We arrived at Ventry and stopped to enjoy a refreshing Guinness while enjoying the view across Ventry beach. The afternoon was warm and sunny as we reached Dingle and we made our way to collect our wet suits for our swim with Fungie the dolphin the next morning. We met with Jane and Mary and made plans to meet for dinner later. Another perfect day had come to an end. An excellent pub dinner was enjoyed over a few well-deserved Guinness's. We exchanged our tales of the days cycling and the girls made our hair stand on end with tales of galloping along beaches and trekking up the side of Mt.Eagle. They were truly having a great time. As the day dawned we had a very early start we had to be at the pier to catch our boat to swim with Fungie, we grabbed a coffee and cake on the way. That was a good move as much energy was depleted trying to wrestle into the wet suits, sardine and tin comes to mind! Still it is the closest I am likely to get to feeling like an extra in a Bond movie! We set off feeling a bit nervous, well me anyway. At the mouth of Dingle Bay we found ourselves jumping into the water and waiting for Fungi to grace us with his presence. By all accounts he had been much more interested in feeding than seeing more tourists bobbing around in the Bay over the last few weeks, well who could blame him. Right on queue there he was HUGE, larger than life, enormous great dolphin coming straight for us, he did not look that big in the pictures.I thought how do I get out of here, trust me you can't move very fast in a wet suit. He was so fast and graceful he made your head spin, What a fantastic experience just being so close to this amazing creature, and knowing that he was there just because he wanted to be!
About two hours later we are back on dry land and out of the wet suits. We were delighted we made the trip. We were starving by now and headed straight for the lovely café Polka they serve an excellent breakfast and you get to enjoy all the beautiful art on display around this small café. We said good bye to Mary and Jane and arrange to meet them back in Killarney the next day. We left Dingle for Ballinataggart House for the last time to break camp and head for our next night stop before we make the final leg of our journey the next day.With all our gear packed onto our bikes and on the advice of one of the Aussie guys who ran the campsite took a detour to find the oldest bridge in Ireland! We were assured it was only a couple of miles away, well where had we heard that one before! We cycled for miles along deserted roads still not a sign of a river never mind a bridge. Surly there would have been a signpost at least to mark this historic bridge. After an age we came across a farmhouse with lots of dogs, one of which came to chase us, luck would have it he was half-blind and almost knocked himself out when it ran into the tractor parked on the road. We were in fits of laughter, when out came the farmer he was very strange looking indeed, "odd eyes", looking in different directions. He was very keen to help; the only problem was we found it very difficult to understand a word he said Bob had no hope at all.Me being Irish helped a bit I managed to pick up a couple of key words and off we set to find the illusive bridge! There it was in all its glory very impressive I have to say and well worth the detour it's a pity someone would not put up a signpost, guess that would make it too easy to find and would then become a tourist attraction and that would be a shame. We set off in the direction of Killarney the sun is shining and that is a bonus. We arrive at Inch beach it is bathed in sunshine, a big contrast to when we came through a few days ago. We enjoyed a coffee and looked out to sea and admired the beautiful mountains in the distance
Last Day Well time was marching on we hit the road once again.With late afternoon approaching we arrived at Castlemaine a small town at the end of the Peninsula, our last night stop before heading back to Killarney and the second last night of our adventure. The Farmhouse B&B was on a working farm. This was just the luxury we needed after "tent life". We were both very tired after a very early start, and very busy day. We were treated to a lovely cup of tea and a chat with the lady of the house, then prepared to go and find somewhere to eat. Luck would have it there was a Pub just around the corner ;-)
Inch Beach The Last Day After a good nights rest we set off back to Killarney and a rendezvous with the girls.We had a good ride back and arrived at lunchtime. After depositing our panniers and tents at the B&B we could not bear to give up our bikes just yet! Off we went to explore Killarney National Park. What a jewel, we cycled around the still waters of the lakes surrounded by the Macgillycuddy Reeks, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery all around us, what a fantastic tranquil place the time just disappeared and before long we had to return the bikes, we were a bit lost without them. We met Mary and Jane and our last night was spent in true Irish tradition eating and drinking with our Friends sharing experiences and stories on the fantastic adventure we had shared……….. Luck would have it there was a Pub just around the corner, well this is Ireland after all!
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