Countryside on an Epic Scale: Dunquin to Ballydavid (Day 7), Dingle, Ireland

Landscape view: southwest from Dunquin over Great Blasket Island and the Atlantic.

Morning views over Great Blasket Island, Dingle Peninsula.

When David Lean picks a location that turns a rather slight story into an academy-award winning 12-million-dollar movie, you know the scenery must be something!

And it is.

Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula really does scenery on an epic scale. Tiny villages are nestled amongst green fields and hills and are bounded by great cliffs on a tumultuous coastline on one side, and wild, windy heath- and mist-covered mountains on the other.

The seventh day of our trek along The Kerry Way saw us walking through the heart of “Ryan’s Daughter” territory.

Day 7: Dunquin to Ballydavid

Once again another superb section of the trail; which takes you north along the western-foot of the peninsula; by Ferriters Cove and the rugged sea-cliffs of the Three Sisters. From here the trail swings east to take you along by the sandy beaches on Smerwick Harbour. Your day finishes in the village of Ballycurrane.

Distance: 16 km/10 miles, Ascent: 180 m/540 ft

Our guide notes promised us an easy day, so we lingered over pancakes, blueberries, and coffee before lacing our boots and girding our loins for another day’s walk through the wet countryside.

Our route took us up to the peak of Cruach Mhárthain, giving us great views of the magnificent coastline.

View to the Blaskets from Cruach Mharthain, Dingle, Ireland

View to the Blaskets
Even on a blue-sky day, the clouds are grey with potential rain.

Landscape: View to Dunmore Head and the Blaskets from Cruach Mharthain

View Southwest from Cruach Mhárthain
As we reach the first apex of the mountain, we have views of Dunmore Head and Great Blasket.

View north from Cruach Mharthain over Sybil Point and the Three Sisters

Sybil Point and the Three Sisters
From Cruach Mhárthain we were looking over the same landscape we had viewed from Clogher Head two days prior.

Small daisy in rough grass, growing between large cobble stones.

Ryan’s Daisies
In less than half an hour, we found ourselves on the remains of the streets of “Kirrary”, Lean’s purpose-built town.

Stone foundation ruins amid green grass and daisies. Cruach Mharthain, Dingle

Stone Ruins
The houses built on top of Cruach Mhárthain were dismantled when the movie was finished, and little remains of the manufactured town. The event of filming, however, is indelibly etched in local memory.

Landscape view over Sybil Head from Cruach Mhartain.

As we make our way across the spine of Cruach Mhárthain, the views extend over the Sybil Peninsula.

Landscape view: from Cruach Mhárthain across Sybil Head, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Against the odds, we lost the path and ended up picking our way cautiously across the flank of Cruach Mhárthain, trying to maintain footing in rough, boggy heather and gorse bush.

Landscape view: houses amid the green fields of Ballyferriter, Dingle, Ireland.

Houses dot the green landscape north of Cruach Mhárthain – looking so close!

Landscape: a couple lean on their red hatchback, overlooking Smerwick Harbour, Dingle Ireland

We were very glad to work our way off the mountain, scrambling over stone fences and crawling through barbed wire, finally emerging in Ballyferriter, and then finding the beach around Smerwick Harbour.

Landscape view: a man and child are dots on a beach, mountains in the background.

The Beach
Expanses of sand stretch along Smerwick Harbour.

Landscape view from rock, over sand and out Smerwick Harbour.

A wide view back out over Smerwick Harbour.

A group of people in jeans and sweaters on a patch of sand, Smerwick Harbour, Dingle Peninsula.

Sweaters and Ugg Boots: Irish Beach attire?

Landscape view over Smerwick Harbour to Ballydavid Head, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

View over Smerwick Harbour to Ballydavid Head.

Close-up: sand, water, green seaweed and rounded rocks.

Impossibly Green

A pile of car tires in green grass. Murreagh, Dingle Peninsula

Nothing is Perfect!
Just back from the beach, we come across a tyre graveyard.

Landscape view: rocky shoreline, sandy beach, Smerwick Harbour, headlands in the background.

As we round the bend, the sandy foreshore diminishes in favour of rock and peat outcrops.

Landscape view: rocky retaining walls along a seaweed-strewn beach.

We soon lose the sandy stretches entirely and come out on seaweed flats.

Landscape view: White caravan on green grass overlooking Smerwick Harbour, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

Room with a View

Lanscape view: a woman on a beach, seaweed in the foreground, hills and clouds in the background.

A Walk on the Beach
The clouds lower over the hills of Ballydavid.

Landscape view: Iron footbridge over a creek on a beach; green hill in the background.

Recent rains had filled the creeks, so we appreciated the bridges – even if they meant a detour.

View: two old men on a bridge in an Irish town. Murreagh, Dingle Peninsula

Friends on the Bridge
We can’t be far now! Two old friends chat on a bridge in Murreagh as we trudge towards our lodgings.

Grass cutting in a large green field.

Grass Cutting
Our lodgings at An Dooneen, Boherboy, is down a long country lane.

So much for a short day!

text: slainte - good healthAfter our scramble on the mountain, I had hiking boots full of water, a bottom full of gorse prickles, and a new respect for Irish sheep. I limped into our lodgings too tired to go out for dinner.

But, as we feasted on wine and old cheese, I thought it well worth it.


Pictures: 24June2012

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