A Little Climb…A Harrowing Pass and Mountain Descent

In addition to Ireland’s most scenic coastline and sights: Slea Head Drive, and Fungie the Dolphin in Dingle town’s harbor, there are two other parts of the Dingle Peninsula that I really loved.
Do the Sheep Deserve that Spectacular View?

Is it even fair that the sheep get this view?!

Forging Dingle’s Connor Pass:

My photos from Connor Pass don’t even look real, and I swear to you they are unaltered. I was emphatically warned about attempting the Connor pass since I wasn’t particularly skilled behind the wheel on the left side of the road (so sue me, I’m an American, we don’t drive on that side!)…and I almost considered skipping it based on the warnings.
IConnor Pass, Dingle, Ireland

Truthfully, it’s not all that bad! Ok, it is bad. But it could have been a lot worse. We did the narrow rough pass during good weather; we had unseasonably dry skies and just a smattering of clouds  bathed the pass in sunlight, contrasting Ireland’s famous greens with the warm blue perched glacial lakes.

The pass is incredibly narrow at one point and only one car can pass at a time…and then we literally had to forge a small river while hugging a small precarious “protective fence barrier” that wouldn’t hold the weight of a person, let alone the car should it be necessary. Once we got through the confined mountain passage we were able to creep down the steep and winding road.

But you know, once you get through all that you’re totally fine! My only regret is that I was the driver and therefore didn’t get to gawk at the beautiful landscape as we descended the comb, or rather the amphitheatre-like valley formed by glaciers.

The Stations of the Cross on Mount Brandon:

The views from Mount Brandon are particularly beautiful because the rest of Dingle has only gentle hills; the side of the mountain with a hiker’s path looks out over the ocean at the Three Sisters and the cold blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

My last day in Dingle was the start of some magnificently warm and unnaturally sunny weather; at the recommendation of the hostel several of us took advantage of the clear day and stopped off at Mount Brandon on our way off of Dingle Peninsula. Half-way marker for Mt. Brandon

My rental car came in really handy and three other women joined me for stop-off at Mount Brandon and the day-long drive to Doolin (ie the Cliffs of Moher); we were a very tight squeeze in my tiny Micra, but what we lacked in space we made up for in bodily contortions and backpacker enthusiasm.

Mount Brandon came very highly recommended by our hostel so it was added in on the way out the door.

The path up the mountain is marked by the Stations of the Cross, interestingly enough, and every Easter the locals (from the children to the grandmas) hike up to the top station at the peak of Mount Brandon for Easter celebrations.

Sadly, I only made it to the sixth station…yes, I know, even grandmas can make it… in our defense though, the whole group had to turn around at the half-way point (station 6 is half-way since the crosses don’t start for a mile up!). My main contention is that we were told it’s 4-5 hours round-trip hiking; that’s totally doable before a drive to the next town.

Not so doable though when we reached the half-way point up the mountain at two and a half hours! We decided to turn around and head back to the car so we could still make the ferry crossing to Doolin.

Do I regret hiking the mountain even though I had to turn around? Not one bit. We lunched at the sixth station and had wide-sweeping views of the surrounding country and I welcomed sunshine beating down and keeping me warm as I munched away on my lunch. 6th Station of the Cross on Mt Brandon

Dingle’s just about one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen, so I was a bit sad to leave it behind…and just a minute ago, I lied a little. I really would have loved to make it to the top, but it just wasn’t possible with time restrictions and making it to the next hostel.

Have you ever moved on from a town just a little bit too soon?

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  • http://www.wasatchreport.blogspot.com/ Katie

    Ah, I have moved on too soon, and it haunts (well, ok, not “haunts” so much as “bugs”) me to this day. In Thailand, in 2001, I rushed out of Bangkok with my eyes set on smaller towns, more authentic regions. I've since learned that I missed out on some of the most historically and culturally “Thai” sights in the entire country.

    Oh well, next time, I suppose.

    LOVE the Ireland coverage. And nice driving!

  • EmmaOconnor

    All the time!! Most recently visiting Lisbon in Portugal, we missed Belem, one of the country's most historical areas. It was our own fault though and can only be put down to a lack of planning.

  • http://www.wasatchreport.blogspot.com/ Katie

    Ah, I have moved on too soon, and it haunts (well, ok, not “haunts” so much as “bugs”) me to this day. In Thailand, in 2001, I rushed out of Bangkok with my eyes set on smaller towns, more authentic regions. I've since learned that I missed out on some of the most historically and culturally “Thai” sights in the entire country.

    Oh well, next time, I suppose.

    LOVE the Ireland coverage. And nice driving!

    • ShannonOD

      Thanks! Ireland was a favorite stop for me, I've got my fingers crossed that my parents decide to retire there so I have a reason to visit a lot! I'm actually in the same boat as you for Thailand, except for I rushed right out of there and into Laos – and while I LOVED Laos, I didn't really see any of Thailand, so I have to wait for next time as well :-)

  • EmmaOconnor

    All the time!! Most recently visiting Lisbon in Portugal, we missed Belem, one of the country's most historical areas. It was our own fault though and can only be put down to a lack of planning.

    • ShannonOD

      Oh no! That's the truth of traveling on a whim – sometimes I also missed some really neat place because I never wanted to make out plans!! Hopefully you'll make it back :-)

  • http://www.thestudiosource.com/ Stacey Cornelius

    Big regrets my time in Scotland was spent on student exchange (weekdays at a university) instead of an independent off-campus study. Not nearly enough adventuring.

    The second photograph reminds me of the gorgeous cloud shadows I saw on the way to Banff, Alberta, driving from the Calgary airport. I live in a place where you don't see those big, expansive views, so it was quite a treat. The mountains were a little taller, and there's a huge difference in the quality of light.

    Loving these posts.

  • http://www.thestudiosource.com/ Stacey Cornelius

    Big regrets my time in Scotland was spent on student exchange (weekdays at a university) instead of an independent off-campus study. Not nearly enough adventuring.

    The second photograph reminds me of the gorgeous cloud shadows I saw on the way to Banff, Alberta, driving from the Calgary airport. I live in a place where you don't see those big, expansive views, so it was quite a treat. The mountains were a little taller, and there's a huge difference in the quality of light.

    Loving these posts.

    • ShannonOD

      That's too bad that you didn't get the chance to explore while you were living there…surely you did some stuff on the weekends, I hope!! I haven't been to Canada at all, but just a couple of weeks ago another blogger posted some photos of Banff, and it looked as beautiful as you say. Now you're making me want to add it to my bucket list ;-)

      • http://www.thestudiosource.com/ Stacey Cornelilus

        Banff is great – lots of mountain trails, since it's in a national park. If you make it to the east coast and visit Cape Breton, you'll see some landscape that reminds you of Ireland.

        I travelled pretty much every weekend when I was in Scotland. It's so easy to get around there. People kept asking me what Canada was like. My reply always started with “Big…”

  • ShannonOD

    Thanks! Ireland was a favorite stop for me, I've got my fingers crossed that my parents decide to retire there so I have a reason to visit a lot! I'm actually in the same boat as you for Thailand, except for I rushed right out of there and into Laos – and while I LOVED Laos, I didn't really see any of Thailand, so I have to wait for next time as well :-)

  • ShannonOD

    Oh no! That's the truth of traveling on a whim – sometimes I also missed some really neat place because I never wanted to make out plans!! Hopefully you'll make it back :-)

    • ShannonOD

      You're welcome Gwen! Sorry to hear that you were the driver too!! Even so though, it's just incredibly pretty. I myself spent an evening or two (or three!) down at O'Connors with the locals and some awesome music, I loved how small Doolin is compared to Dingle. Dingle was a lot of fun, but Doolin had the “tiny-town” charm down pat that makes Ireland so amazing :-)

  • ShannonOD

    That's too bad that you didn't get the chance to explore while you were living there…surely you did some stuff on the weekends, I hope!! I haven't been to Canada at all, but just a couple of weeks ago another blogger posted some photos of Banff, and it looked as beautiful as you say. Now you're making me want to add it to my bucket list ;-)

  • http://www.thestudiosource.com/ Stacey Cornelilus

    Banff is great – lots of mountain trails, since it's in a national park. If you make it to the east coast and visit Cape Breton, you'll see some landscape that reminds you of Ireland.

    I travelled pretty much every weekend when I was in Scotland. It's so easy to get around there. People kept asking me what Canada was like. My reply always started with “Big…”

  • Geoff

    There's nowhere better than Dingle … !

  • Geoff

    There's nowhere better than Dingle … !

    • ShannonOD

      I agree! :-)

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  • gwenmccauley

    Thanks for the reminder of the wonderful Connor Pass. It's been years since I was there, but I do recall the incredible views (even though I was the driver!). And Doolin is definitely a difficult place to move on from. We spent many delightful hours near the fire at Gus O'Connor's Pub while the winds howled outside and we were enjoying one of those hot whiskey's Ireland is so renowned for.

    My list of places I didn't get to spend enough time in is extremely long. Interestingly they are almost always small villages and towns. There are very few cities on the list; I love getting out of dodge and seeing how the 'real' locals live!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Gwen

  • gwenmccauley

    Thanks for the reminder of the wonderful Connor Pass. It's been years since I was there, but I do recall the incredible views (even though I was the driver!). And Doolin is definitely a difficult place to move on from. We spent many delightful hours near the fire at Gus O'Connor's Pub while the winds howled outside and we were enjoying one of those hot whiskey's Ireland is so renowned for.

    My list of places I didn't get to spend enough time in is extremely long. Interestingly they are almost always small villages and towns. There are very few cities on the list; I love getting out of dodge and seeing how the 'real' locals live!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Gwen

    • ShannonOD

      You're welcome Gwen! Sorry to hear that you were the driver too!! Even so though, it's just incredibly pretty. I myself spent an evening or two (or three!) down at O'Connors with the locals and some awesome music, I loved how small Doolin is compared to Dingle. Dingle was a lot of fun, but Doolin had the “tiny-town” charm down pat that makes Ireland so amazing :-)

  • http://www.migrationology.com/ Migration Mark

    Great article about a very beautiful place int he world. I would love to take this drive someday and hopefully be in the passenger seat to fully enjoy the scenery. Awesome pictures!

  • http://www.migrationology.com/ Migration Mark

    Great article about a very beautiful place int he world. I would love to take this drive someday and hopefully be in the passenger seat to fully enjoy the scenery. Awesome pictures!

    • ShannonOD

      Thanks Mark! The passenger's seat is definitely the best seat in the car :-) Ireland is one of my favorite places in the world, so I do hope you make it there ;-)

  • ShannonOD

    I agree! :-)

  • ShannonOD

    Thanks Mark! The passenger's seat is definitely the best seat in the car :-) Ireland is one of my favorite places in the world, so I do hope you make it there ;-)