Before the end of our trip, J and the Monkey wanted to take on one more hike. This time they decided they wanted to hike across the Dingle Peninsula. I was a bit nervous after driving across Conor Pass, but J reassured me that they wouldn’t be crossing over there, and the route that he researched was much more of a reasonable hike/walk that was suitable for the 10 year old Monkey.
So, on our second to last day on the Dingle Peninsula, we woke and J and the Monkey packed their gear and their lunches plus snacks. I packed up a lunch for the other kids and we drove through the village and up a small local road to Annascaul lake and the trail head. The road was narrow and was bordered by tall hedges hiding farm houses and livestock relaxing in the warm summer sun.
We finally reached the end of the lake and a small car park. We parked and headed down a dirt road that was lumpy and full of holes filled with murky opaque water and the kids scrambled about dodging sheep poo and dodging large muddy pools. The Annascaul lake is a dark pool of water filling the valley basic between the mountains, which rise up on either side. As we walked the road around the lake to the hike trailhead, we were in the cool shadow of the mountain while we could see the road J and the Monkey would take highlighted in sunshine ahead. We got to a certain point by lake where the road changed, and I decided that we should head back while J and the Monkey continued on to the trail head. As we turned to pick our way back between the pools and sheep poo, I turned to see that J and the Monkey had already made it to the base of the hills and were already making their ascent, their pace so much faster without all the littles slowing them down. I snapped a couple of photos as their tiny figures moved up the mountain in the distance and hoped that they would have a safe and fun weather.
After we finally got back to the car, we drove back out to the intersection and turned down a different road that would take us to the Kerry County Council. I wanted to visit Tom Crean’s grave because I’m a Tom Crean Groupie. The cemetery “parking” was really just gravel next to the cemetery which was protected by a black iron fence. Upon entering, we wandered around carefully (as carefully as you can with a 2 year old) until we found Tom Crean’s grave which had a simple cement musoluem and plaque marking his remains.
Afterward, we returned to the car and headed into Dingle for a swim at the hotel before returning to the hostel. We ate lunch and relaxed for a bit before I packed the kids back up in the car and headed toward the north end of the peninsula to pick up J and the Monkey at the end of their trail. Unfortunately, I only had some GPS coordinates and a rough idea on google maps of where to go. I ended up pulling over into the end of a long driveway to try to look up directions. After a few minutes, a lady from the house came down to the car and asked if we were all right. I explained that I was trying to figure out where the trail head ended but was scared of accidentally going up toward Conor Pass since it seemed like the trail head ended right before the point of no return. It turned out the woman was an American and had married an Irishman from the area and had lived in the area for many years. She remarked that there was a man whom everyone called the “German” even though he had lived on the mountain for 35 years, never to be accepted as a “local”. She was very nice and gave me directions about which house to stop by and that the trail head actually ended behind this man’s property.
We said goodbye and went slowly down the road, making the sharp turn as she predicted and then I saw J standing by the side of the road in front of row of small houses. He waved us down and pointed over to the front of the house for me to park. When I pulled into the front of the house, several people came out of the house with the Monkey. Apparently, the boys had exited the trail into the man’s yard and had walked down his long drive way back to the road hoping to get a signal to ring me to let me know they had finished earlier than we had expected (I had told them that’s I’d be at the meeting point in four hours). J wasn’t able to get a signal and the man and his friends had noticed the Monkey sitting by the side of the road and had invited him in for a banana snack and some water. Both J and the Monkey were tired but happy with their adventure and accomplishment. We all piled back into the car, waving our thanks to the friendly Irishman and his friends, and headed out toward CastleGregory, which is a little village on the north side.
J’s photos from their hike below:
In Castlegregory, a small village on the north side, we saw the giant water bouncy castle place that had flyers all over Dingle. We bypassed it and continued down a small road onto what seemed like a really small seaside town. It seemed more like a sandbar than a peninsula but there were definitely businesses, b&bs, and homes there. We passed a busy camping area with a wide sand beach and lots of kids and families walking around and enjoying the water. We continued into a residential area and went along a solitary road and ended up at a place called the Harbor House on the very most north tip of the little peninsula. The views were magnificent and the weather was sunny if not completely warm with the sea breeze blowing over us. We decided to stop for our early dinner and let the kids play on the play structure across the road from the B&B/Restaurant. The service was great and we were surprised to read a small hanging on the wall that said the owner of the Harbor House was in fact one of the first divers to befriend Fungie many years ago while he was diving in Dingle Bay. The kids were super excited to read that. We enjoyed our dinner in peace, barely able to get the kids to come back to the table to eat, and then headed back to the hostel to relax for our final day in Dingle.