Walking Ireland’s Longest Beach: Dingle Peninsula Day 9: Cloghain to Castlegregory

Shoe prints in damp sand, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Castlegregory Beach
One of Ireland’s longest beaches: from Cloghane Village to the Maharees and Castlegregory.


It was day nine of our walk around the Dingle Peninsula last June, and once again we woke up to rain.

Soft, misty, Irish rain – but coat-soaking, bone-chilling, camera-splattering rain even so. Not my idea of beach weather! My walking boots were still wet from crossing bogs the day before, so the overcast skies had me feeling less than cheerful.

According to our trip notes, we were up for a 29 kilometre walk, with 11 kilometres of it (or 11 miles – depending on whom you believe) along Castlegregory Beach. In the rain.

Day 9: Cloghane to Castlegregory

A long but not a demanding day, dominated by Irelands longest beach, with fantastic views of both sea and mountains and the off shore Maharees Islands.
 Local birds include seabirds (several species of seagull, shags, cormorants, gannets to name but a few), larks, starlings, curlews, crows, ravens, garden birds such as sparrows, robins and finches, and wading birds such as the heron. The swallow is a frequent visitor in the summer months, all to be seen on this walk.

Distance: 29 km/18 miles, Ascent: 40m/120 ft

View over River Owenmore on a misty morning, Cloghane, Ireland

River Owenmore
Everything was fresh – and wet – as we set out on our walk from Cloghane, Ireland.

Landscape: expanse of wet beach under an overcast, cloudy sky. Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Castlegregory Beach
One small patch of blue beckons us as we start our traverse along the beach skirting Brandon Bay.

Close-up: intricate shell on a Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Wind whips up the wet sand over the creatures stranded by the last high tide.

Miles of rippled sands under blue skies with white clouds, Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Castlegregory Beach
Two hours into our walk, the skies start to clear, lifting our moods, and completely changing the colour of the landscape.

Gull taking off from the edge of the water, Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Gull Taking Off

Large European Herring Gulls wading in the surf, Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Seagulls Wading
Large European Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) congregated in groups at the water’s edge.

Seagull in flight, Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Seagull in Flight

European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) wading in the soft surf of Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Seagulls in the Surf
A Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) wades at the water’s edge.

Landscape: grass-covered sand dunes, sandy beach, bright blue sky, Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Sand Dunes
A lot of our walk was past dunes covered in hardy marram grass.

Close-up: a tuft of beach grass (Ammophila arenaria) on a sand dune.

A Tuft of Grass
European Marram Grass or Beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) clings to the windy sand-scape.

Close-up: a blue beach pebble marks a path through pale  sand, Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

Nature’s Still-Life: Pebble Drift

Landscape: Low black clouds and patched of blue sky over Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

As we approach the north end of the beach, black clouds roll in …

Sand dunes covered in beachgrass, reflected at the water

… slanting the light low over the dunes …

Landscape: Windsurfer against the small village of Fahamore and grey skies, Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

… and darkening the skies over the hamlet of Fahamore (An Faiche Mór or “the large green”).

Four Eurasian Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) at the water

Eurasian Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) are meant to be common in this area; these were the first we saw.

Landscape: black cloud over a beach with three people in wetsuits at the edge, Castlegregory Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Body Surfers
Young people in their wetsuits seem unconcerned about the incoming clouds.

Once we reached the little hamlet of Fahamore (An Faiche Mór) at the north end of Brandon Bay, we took a break at the charming – and apparently “famous” – Spillane’s Bar & Restaurant. We were more than ready for a late lunch and early libation: there is nothing like a little stroll in the sea air to sharpen the appetite!

The next stretch of walking took us across Scraggane Bay, then back south along Tralee Bay towards Castlegregory.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii), Scraggane Bay, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)

Landscape: Fishing boats moored on Scraggane Bay, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Boats on Scraggane Bay
A small fleet of fishing boats, netting European lobster, spiny lobster or crayfish, spider crab, edible crab, and Atlantic salmon, keeps this area alive.

Rusty farm cart, Scraggane Bay, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Rusty Cart
The other economic mainstay is farming: mostly root vegetables, which love the sandy soil.

A stocky white bull against green grass with white and yellow flowers, Scraggane Bay, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

A young bull watches us pass.

Landscape: horses appear to race a vehicle across green Irish countryside, Maharees peninsula, Ireland

Like a Commercial!
It must be dinner time: the horse seems to be racing the car across the Maharees Peninsula.

Ancient (seventh century) cross slab in Kilshannig Graveyard, Maharees Peninsula, Ireland

Kilshannig Graveyard
The crumbling graveyard at Kilshannig includes an ancient (seventh century) cross slab.

Landscape: grass, sand and sharp rocks against Tralee Bay, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

Rocky Coast
The beach on the east of the Maharees Peninsula, along Tralee Bay, is covered in sharp rocks.

A trap for lobster or crayfish sits over Tralee Bay.

Fish Traps
Traps for lobster or crayfish are scattered around Tralee Bay.

text: slainte - good health

The overcast had lowered again and the skies were almost dark by the time we stumbled into Castlegregory, our home for the night.

It had been, as our trip-notes had promised, a “long but not a demanding day”: a wonderful walk with some great scenery.

So, I was happy: my camera chips were full… and my boots were finally dry.


Pictures: 27June2012

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