Follow the Walking Man: Ballydavid to Cloghane, The Dingle Way, Ireland

Yellow "Walking Man" on a black signpost, on Mt Brandon, overlooking Smerwick Harbour, Ireland.

Follow the Walking Man
On Mt Brandon, looking back over the magnificent Smerwick Harbour, Ireland.

If you are a regular visitor to this site, you’ll know that I love walking.

The thing is: some days I enjoy it more in retrospect than in real time!

By Day 8 of our walk around the Dingle Peninsula, that was certainly the case. I was tired.

We’d lost the trail on a bog-covered mountain the day before, and doses of anti-inflammatory drugs overnight had not met the challenge of ageing knees and hip joints. Tired and sore.

Then there was the intermittent rain: just enough so that we had to pull the raincoats out of bags at least once a day; just enough to ensure it was always slippery under foot. Tired and sore and wet.

According to our notes, we had another mountain to cross…

Day 8: Ballydavid to Cloghane

This is one of the most remote sections of the Dingle Way; offering you a combination of history and breathtaking scenery. 
The trail follows a green road that crosses the shoulder of one of Ireland’s highest mountains “Mount Brandon” standing at 952Mtrs. Passes a standing stone that dates back over 3.500 years; which still displays the symbols of Ogham Writing. Crosses over an area of blanket bog where turf is still harvested in the traditional ways of our forefathers.
 Finishing in the quiet village of Cloghane; that lies in the shadow of Mount Brandon.

Distance: 19 km/13 miles, Ascent: 670 m/2010 ft

A mix of Flowers growing on a stone border.

Flower Border
Flowers in the village send us off on our way…

Cow in the Countryside

Cow in the Countryside
We had a fair walk along country roads before heading off cross-country.

Quiet Waters flanked by green hills, Ballydavid, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Still Waters
Quiet waters and a dotting of farms under lowering skies.

Currach or Naomhóg

Currach or Naomhóg
The Blasket islanders developed a distinctive regional type of currach (or naomhóg) which they used for transport and fishing.

Lanscape: Small Creek bounded by rocks, green hills in the background.

Creek Waters

Landscape: sheep

Barbed Wire
Sheep’s wool, stone fence and a green mountain; it doesn’t get more Irish than that.

Wooly Irish Sheep looking from behind a wire fence.

Irish Sheep
The sheep are curious about out our progress.

Close-up: yellow honeysuckle flower against green leaves.

Wild Honeysuckle
Like the Irish spirit, the delicate honeysuckle (Woodbine: Lonicera periclymenum) is flexible, resilient, and deceptively strong.

Landscape: View over Ballydavid Head and the Three Sisters from Mount Brandon, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

From Mount Brandon
In spite of low cloud, we still have magnificent views back over Ballydavid Head and the Three Sisters.

Landscape: Ogham Stone with Brandon Bay in the background, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

Ogham Stone
This Ogham, dating back to the 4th Century, apparently says: “Ronan, the priest son of Comgan”.

We were really excited to reach the Ogham Stone in the saddle between Masatiompan and Mount Brandon: according too our trip notes, there were a number of Ogham stones along our walk, but so far we had not succeeded in seeing any of them. We had looked – but the notes were often a bit vague, so we weren’t sure if we were looking in the wrong place or for the wrong thing. We were beginning to wonder if the stones had all been carried away by archaeologists or leprechauns. This was our first!

Reaching the stone also meant we had reached the high point of our day, and the rest should be down hill. Easy, right?

Wrong! More of a water-runoff-gully than a path, the way down the mountain was steep, mired in mud and water, and frequently slippery. Burdened as we were with day-packs and camera gear, we picked our way down as carefully as we could, grateful for our trusty walking sticks. It took us more than an hour to reach the peat road part way down the hill. By this time, I was ready for the day to be over, but we still had at least eight kilometres to go… I took some comfort in the fact that three young walkers we had passed along the way were still well behind us, so it wasn’t just age that had slowed us down: it truly was a wicked stretch of ground!

View over the flank of Mount Brandon towards Brandon Point.

Brandon Point
View over the flank of Masatiompan towards Brandon Point.

Landscape: Yellow arrows pointing down a green hill, Mount Brandon, Dingle Peninsula.

This Way Down
Steeper than it looks, muddy and wet; we were pleased we had our walking sticks.

A small cairn of rocks on a large rock on a green slope, Mount Brandon, Dingle Peninsula.

A Cairn along the Way
Previous walkers have marked their passing along the “trail”.

Composite granite stones standing at the side of a narrow rocky trail over green mountains, Mount Brandon, Ireland

Stones along the Path
At this point, the trail became a little drier and more manageable. There’s a walking man ahead!

Cuts in blanket peat on a hillside: blocks and bags of turf either side of the cutting, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Peat Gathering
Blanket peat covers most of the Dingle Peninsula. Although it is considered a non-renewable and not-particularly efficient energy source, it is harvested by locals for burning as fuel and for sale.

Stony country Road leading Down to Brandon Bay, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Teer Bog Road
A peat-cutter’s road leads down towards Brandon Bay.

Fluffy white lamb with pink ears against very green grass. Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Another Lamb…

Landscape: White cottages on the edge of Brandon Bay, Ireland

Brandon Bay
Cottages come into view; dinner can’t be too far away!

Three tan-coloured cows in a green field, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

More Cows…

Landscape: Brandon Bay under a cloudy gray sky.

Brandon Bay
Finally! We are back at sea-level, as the clouds lower over the bay.

Small fishing boats tied to Brandon Pier, Dingle Peninsula.

Fishing Boats
Small craft are tied up at Brandon Pier.

Landscape: Late afternoon light and rain clouds over the beach at Brandon Bay.

Last Light
Rain clouds hover over the beach at Brandon Bay as we make our way to our lodgings near Cloghane.

text: slainte - good healthAs we sat in the pub in Brandon over a glass of wine and a fabulous hot meal, the wet, the pain, and the tired were forgotten – almost. It was a beautiful walk and I’d do it again…

Well, maybe on a dry day.


Pictures: 26June2012

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