Ballydavid/Feohanagh to Cloghane
Macs Adventure Verifizierter Partner Explorers Choice
Climbing over the shoulder of Mount Brandon dominates today’s walk. It’s a steep climb that’s sure to test Dingle Way-wearied legs, but a sense of achievement and stunning views along the peninsula provide plenty of reward.
Today’s walk will be a high point of your Dingle Way adventure. Literally and figuratively. You’ll have seen Mount Brandon many times and from many different angles since leaving Tralee, but from Ballydavid, it appears particularly imposing, soaring 952 metres above the eastern horizon to blot out the early morning sun. It’s towards this goliath you walk this morning.
You don’t have to pass over the summit of Mount Brandon. The path veers north to cross its shoulder (654 metres) along a route that, judging by the inscribed Ogham standing stone on the col, has been followed for millennia. As well as the highest point along the Dingle Way, this is also the most remote. If you’re lucky enough to have clear views, you’ll see Tralee in one direction and the Blaskets in the other; your entire journey condensed into a single panorama.
After a long descent through moorland and mountain-scape, the walk will have a taste of everything you’ve experienced so far; you’ll step across sandy Brandon Bay, navigate boreens through farmland and follow minor roads to Cloghane. This lively village is a great place to overnight.
I crossed the Mount Brandon col on a windy day with terrible visibility while many other walkers decided to skip the climb and arrange a taxi. I would say that though the path is faint, frequent waymarker posts with reflective strips make it easy to follow. If you have warm layers, waterproofs, and some hillwalking experience I would say it is a great climb; take it slow and enjoy the walk!
A large portion of the Dingle Way is on minor, low-traffic roads. Where there is no pavement, you should walk on the right side facing the oncoming traffic, except where the road bends right when you should cross over to the other side. Stay alert to vehicles around you and be prepared to step into the verge if necessary.
The trail is often rocky and uneven and can be slippery when wet. Wear appropriate footwear and take care with your foot placements, particularly at the end of the day when you may be tired. Walking poles can be useful on some of the steep ascents and descents.
The weather can change quickly. Be sure to pack appropriate clothing in your day-bag.
The path up to the Mount Brandon col is well signposted with frequent waymarker posts, some of which have reflective strips on, making it easy to navigate in even inclement weather and poor-visibility weather. Nonetheless, weather conditions can vary drastically so ensure you carry appropriate clothing and equipment. In addition to the route notes, ensure you pay close attention to the route notes and the app.
The total distance is based on reaching Cloghane after crossing Mount Brandon, if you avoid this part of the route by directly walking to Cloghane, the distance is reduced by 4km (2.5 mi).
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Points of Interest
Arraglen Ogham Stone
This upright sandstone gravemarker stands nearly two metres tall on the col of Mount Brandon. It is a welcome sight after the steep climb; it’s downhill from here! Based on the Archaic Irish inscription, it was placed here around AD 550-600.
Mount Brandon Plane Crashes
During World War II, four planes slammed into the slopes of Mount Brandon. In one German plane crash in 1940, all six pilots miraculously survived. As a neutral country, Ireland neither returned them to Germany or sent them to England; instead, they stayed in Ireland to study at university, take jobs in Cloghane and even marry Irish women. You will also pass the memorial to six Polish pilots who weren’t so lucky; their plane came down in poor visibility in 1943 close to what is now the Dingle Way, and no-one survived. You can also find artefacts from these plane crashes in O’Connor’s pub in Cloghane.
Food and Drink
There are several pubs and cafés throughout today’s walk. Please bear in mind that any cafes, restaurants and shops may be closed when you visit so it is advised to bring enough snacks and water for the duration of your journey. Your accommodation may be able to arrange a packed lunch.
There is a pub after 4.5 kilometres. There are two pubs in Brandon, after 20 kilometres. Cloghane, where you finish has a pub, a café and a small village store.
0.00km – Start at the grassy triangle facing the pub in Feohanagh. TURN LEFT along the road, following the sign to Dingle. TURN LEFT at the school after 400 metres, and then BEAR RIGHT as the road forks after 300 metres.
1.10km – TURN RIGHT as the grassy path leads onto a paved road.
1.60km – TURN LEFT at the paved road to immediately cross the bridge over the river. Remain on the paved road that sticks closest to the river on your right. This will lead into a series of fields where it is easy to follow the well-trodden grassy path and yellow arrows. This section can be boggy so take care when deciding your route and foot placement.
3.40km –. After a narrow section, you will cross a stile and BEAR RIGHT along the gravel track. After 500 metres, TURN LEFT at the paved road.
4.50km – Shortly after passing the pub and immediately before the school, TURN RIGHT onto the road heading gradually uphill. BEAR LEFT as the road forks around a grassy triangle after 400 metres. Remain on this road for 2 kilometres ignoring all side roads.
6.90km – As the road ends beside a stone enclosure and a car park, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through the gate. After 100 metres, TURN RIGHT to leave the main footpath and follow a faint grassy track that generally parallels the stream and field boundary on your right. Though it is well-signposted, it is easy to miss this junction and lose the path; focus on spotting the next waymarker post. If you haven’t seen a waymarker for a few minutes, double-check the map.
7.50km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the path steps across the stream and through a gate. The path remains faint but well-signposted all the way up to Mount Brandon col. The higher sections can be boggy so be cautious with your route choice and foot placement.
11.00km – Well done for reaching the col at 654 metres! CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to descend over the other side, immediately passing the Arraglen Ogham stone. The downhill path has stone steps so will be less boggy, however, it is initially very steep so walking poles and a slow, controlled pace are recommended.
11.70km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON following the waymarker posts and grassy track along the raised ridgeline. Ignore the boulders painted with giant yellow arrows. Eventually, the path will swing over to the left side of the valley.
13.10km – As you reach a stone shelter, TURN RIGHT along the wide gravel track. There’s a short section uphill before it starts to gradually descend towards Brandon Bay. At the T-junction with a gravel track after 1.4 kilometres, TURN LEFT for a short uphill section.
17.90km – After the long winding descent, TURN LEFT at the ‘Stop’ junction following the sign to Brandon Point. As the road bends right after 300 metres, BEAR LEFT onto the road heading slightly uphill. (If you are feeling tired after the climb and are happy to miss the beautiful Brandon Bay, you can ignore the ‘turn left’ instruction, continue along this road, and skip to the instruction at 22.60km. This will save 3.75km.)
20.00km – TURN RIGHT at the ‘Stop’ T-junction to follow the signs to An Clochán and Dingle. This will descend towards the harbour. After 900 metres, TURN LEFT sharply to follow a small road to the beach. Cross the bridge over the stream and then TURN LEFT and TURN RIGHT to pass through a gap in the beach and across the field.
21.40km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through the gate to leave the field and follow the road uphill.
22.60km – BEAR LEFT at the ‘Stop’ junction. After 800 metres, TURN RIGHT at the crossroads to leave the wide sweeping bay behind you and head uphill following the sign for Mount Brandon.
25.30km – As the road flattens out for a short section, TURN LEFT onto the narrow grassy path which immediately crosses a stile. There are yellow arrows on either side of the road but pay attention to the map to ensure you don’t miss these. After 700 metres the path will swing right through a small gate and onto an unpaved track. TURN LEFT to head downhill past the remains of a 13th-century church.
26.30km – TURN RIGHT at the paved road, T-junction. After 100 metres, finish beside the pub in Cloghane. There are some picnic tables behind the pub with a great view overlooking the bay so why not grab a drink?
Bring appropriate footwear, preferably walking boots with good grip and ankle support.
Bring waterproof jacket and trousers, even where the weather forecast makes this appear unnecessary.
Walking poles may be useful on some of the steep ascents and descents.
Food for the duration of the hike two litres of water is recommended.
A powerbank and phone cable may be useful if you are navigating using your phone. Phone batteries are less effective in cold weather.
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