Countryside on an Epic Scale: Dunquin to Ballydavid (Day 7), Dingle, Ireland
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
Even on a blue-sky day, the clouds are grey with potential rain.
View Southwest from Cruach Mhárthain
As we reach the first apex of the mountain, we have views of Dunmore Head and Great Blasket.
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.
In less than half an hour, we found ourselves on the remains of the streets of “Kirrary”, Lean’s purpose-built town.
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.
As we make our way across the spine of Cruach Mhárthain, the views extend over the Sybil Peninsula.
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.
Houses dot the green landscape north of Cruach Mhárthain – looking so close!
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.
Expanses of sand stretch along Smerwick Harbour.
A wide view back out over Smerwick Harbour.
Sweaters and Ugg Boots: Irish Beach attire?
View over Smerwick Harbour to Ballydavid Head.
Nothing is Perfect!
Just back from the beach, we come across a tyre graveyard.
As we round the bend, the sandy foreshore diminishes in favour of rock and peat outcrops.
We soon lose the sandy stretches entirely and come out on seaweed flats.
Room with a View
A Walk on the Beach
The clouds lower over the hills of Ballydavid.
Recent rains had filled the creeks, so we appreciated the bridges – even if they meant a detour.
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.
Our lodgings at An Dooneen, Boherboy, is down a long country lane.
So much for a short day!
After 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.