Annascaul to Dingle
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Today’s route continues west from Annascaul to Dingle and seems to be unhurried as it flits from the coast to the mountains and back again, weaving along meandering roads through farmland, across fields and down old Irish boreens.
A quiet country lane traverses the lower slopes of Cnoc na nAcrai mountain and then drops down onto the Bay of Stones, a poetic name befitting this captivating location. This small beach resembles an oversized children’s ball-pit filled with a jumble of rocks as smooth as marbles. Minard Castle stands atop a nearby hill, commanding a prominent view across the Dingle Bay and documenting six centuries of history.
From here, the route weaves inland on minor roads, old Irish boreens and across fields and farmland. It offers an intimate glimpse of life in rural Ireland. You’ll walk in the undulating foothills, caught between views to the Iveragh Peninsula on your left, and the smouldering mountains on your right. There are lots of fields and small trails to navigate but the route is well-signposted and, used in conjunction with these route notes, shouldn’t cause any issues.
With tired legs at the end of the day, the long, straight descent to Dingle may test your mental resolve, but be assured, a great welcome awaits with good eating and drinking guaranteed, for Dingle is one of the liveliest towns on the peninsula.
Your night in Dingle is a chance to shake your weary legs away with a drink and a dance in one of the many pubs offering live music each night. Just don't try and keep up with David Geaney, who holds the world record for 'fastest feet' and often performs in The Dingle Pub.
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.
Tips and hints
Points of Interest
Minard Castle was built in the 16th century by the Fitzgerald family. It managed to withstand the attack by Thomas Cromwell’s army in 1650, but barely; its occupants were killed and the building became uninhabitable when gunpowder was exploded under all four corners. It has stood as a ruin atop its prominent hilltop location ever since, commanding a stunning view across the nearby Beal na gCloc (Bay of Stones) and across to the Iveragh Peninsula.
The Tralee & Dingle Railway opened in 1891 and connected the 32 miles between the two towns until its closure in 1953. The seven-span Lispole viaduct, half-stone, half-iron is one of its most impressive engineering legacies. To see it, glance right after 11.4 kilometres as you’re nearing the N86 T-junction.
Food and Drink
There are limited food options along today’s walk so be sure to leave Annascaul with enough food and drink (at least two litres) for the day. Your accommodation may organise a packed lunch but otherwise, enquire at one of the cafes or pubs.
If you really run out of food, there may be a café after 9.4-kilometres. Ignore the left turn and instead follow the road down to the junction with the N86. Two kilometres further, there may be a petrol station in Lispole where you can buy some basic snacks.
Dingle, where you finish, is a delightful town to arrive in, and promises great food, drink and of course, live music! There’s a wide range of restaurants, cafes, takeaways, and supposedly one pub for every 40 residents!
0.00km -Start facing the South Pole Inn. TURN LEFT to cross the bridge over the river and walk along the wider verge on the left side of the road. After 450 metres, TURN LEFT to follow the sign for Killarney and Castlemaine. After 400 metres, TURN RIGHT to take the minor road signposted as Cycle Route 1 to Dingle.
5.30km – After passing the picturesque cove overlooked by Minard Castle, TURN LEFT past the dead-end sign. After 100m, TURN RIGHT to head uphill on the grassy slope away from the coast. Today’s route starts heading towards the foot of the mountains.
6.60km - While climbing a hill, TURN LEFT to pass a house on your left and then walk along a flat gravel track with distant glimmers of the sea directly ahead.
7.40km – TURN RIGHT at the T-junction with a paved road.
8.60km – After climbing a small hill, TURN RIGHT at the crossroads and then after 300 metres, TURN LEFT at the ‘stop’ junction.
9.40km – Soon after entering a 50km zone and just before the road bends right and then left, TURN LEFT. This will pass several houses and a church and bring you gradually downhill to the village of Lispole.
11.40km – TURN LEFT at the T-junction with the N86. Glance right for a glimpse of the Lispole Viaduct. Once across the bridge over the river, TURN RIGHT. After 1km, BEAR LEFT as the road forks to continue following Cycle Route 1.
13.90km – TURN RIGHT to leave the paved road, cross the stile and walk along the edge of the field towards the mountains. Once across a stile at the top of the field, TURN LEFT along the grassy path.
14.90km - TURN RIGHT at the T-junction to immediately pass a barn on your left. Once past the barn, TURN LEFT along the track. After 500 metres, BEAR LEFT across the bridge and continue across three further stiles.
15.90km – Just before the road bends left and descends, BEAR RIGHT to cross a stile and walk along the edge of the field. From here, the route continues across several stiles and fields, though each is well-signposted so stay alert to the yellow arrows.
16.40km – Upon reaching the road, BEAR RIGHT to head downhill past farm buildings. After 200m, TURN RIGHT onto the gravel road, and then after 100m, having passed houses on your right and crossed a stile or gate, BEAR RIGHT to head uphill. The route contours along fields and small tracks at the base of the mountain and will eventually head upstream beside the Garfinny River, crossing it at a bridge.
18.70km – Once across the Garfinny River, TURN LEFT at the T-junction with a paved track. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along this road, ignoring all side roads to arrive at Dingle.
22.70km – At the roundabout near the sea, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON taking the second exit, and then after 400 metres, finish beside the Tourist Information office. Why not grab a seat on the beach with a portion of locally landed Fish and Chips?
Bring appropriate footwear, preferably walking boots with good grip and ankle support.
Bring a 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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