Categories: EuropeIreland

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?