Day 2 Dingle Way/ Kerry Camino- Camp to Inch Strand

9/10/16 Sunday was an unexpected  restless night after a wonderful light dinner of fresh shrimp and salad followed by the immensely entertaining evening at Railway Pub owned by a long bearded Irishman named Mike. Each  Sunday the locals gather to play their instruments and sing. So lucky to be welcomed by the large gathering of locals. Mike hospitality included a drive back to the B&B. I was tuckered out any 10pm. I think it was the combination of Guinness, Whiskey and the local boys that wanted to twirl me ever so un-gracefully across the miniature dance floor that did me in!

9/12/16 Valerie the host of the Lurraga House B&B prepared a full Irish breakfast. You cannot imagine the size of such a breakfast! I’d like to tell you I could not finish my plate of egg, sausage, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms & brown bread but sadly I report to you that I cleaned my plate. Valerie is a kind and generous host with bright sunny rooms with very comfortable beds

After Breakfast a short walk to Inch Strand.  7 miles following a track through sheep country, a little mud and some steady hill climbing. ☘the views could not be more tranquil and I felt my life at home slipping away. What seemed so monumentally important a few days ago now seemed silly in retrospect. I had found my way once again to the land of peace as I enjoyed the steady climb, the impossibly green country side and the sheep looking at me seeming to wonder why I was in their territory.

In all too short of time I found myself making my way down a steep incline that was more of a little creek of running water than an actual trail to Inch Strand Beach.

 If the countryside was peaceful the sound of waves breaking  at Inch Beach sure lit up my heart and my day. I think if you’re  born to be near water there is no greater joy than standing at the shore being lulled by the waves.

Next was the check into the Strand Beach Hostel a very clean and friendly place with small dorm rooms or private rooms. Serves a free large continental breakfast or for 5€ a full English breakfast. Across the street is a bar and restaurant with a fine selection of Whiskey, good food and friendly service.

Another great day on the trail.

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Day 6 Ballydavid to Kilcummin

9/17/16 Where to start? Spent the night in Ballydavid at an Air B&B with host Patrick Murphy, the kindest, most generous host of all time. He picked up on our interest in the history and culture of the village and off we went to explore the area including:

12th century church where his parents rest in peace. The Keyhole to Heaven with a heartbreaking story as ancient as time; those with money persecuting and taking advantage of those without.

Then onto a 7th century church and ancient Beehive dwelling ruins

The next morning Patrick was kind enough to drive me back to the trailhead for the hike over the pass of Mt. Brandon. The weather was not great and locals were concerned about my solo hike. I assured them of the fog drifted any further down I would return. That said, I did have a moment of nerves looking at the climb! 

​The hike to the top is about 3.5miles straight up, no switchbacks just soggy, boggy uneven footing to the top then an unbelievable steep downhill with even less stable footing! By 6 miles you are on a dirt, mud filled road and grateful for it!

It is then an easy 4 mile hike down into the village of Brandon. 

This was a day I had been looking forward to. It was Mt. Brandon in honor of my nephew by the same name. I wanted so bad to summit in his honor. The peak was impossible with the pea thick fog but I made it to the saddle with the peak above me. When I made it to that damn muddy road I looked back at the mountain as the fog rolled over the top and down to the valley floor. Ever so slowly the fog seeped onward with fingers of fog reaching down spreading across the mountain while the top of the fog lifted up to the heavens. It was awe inspiring, magical, a moment in time that felt like a blessing, a gift given yet not earned.

I knew in that moment that the peak was not important that it was the day of remembrance that mattered. I knew Brandon  would be proud as much as I know how grateful I am to have had that amazing young man in my life. How I’ll always honor his love of the outdoors, that no one remained a stranger more than 5 minutes and that his family meant everything to him. 

The day was physically and emotionally draining. A perfect trail day, a moment I’ll never forget.

To you my dear Brandon, Sláinte

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Day 5 Dunquin to Ballydavid

9/16/16 our easiest walk so far. About 10 miles split between road walking and three wonderful beaches. An earlier stop for coffee and lunch perched on a stone fence overlooking the sea.
Then on to Ballydavid and our Air B&B for the night. Before I could call Patrique Murphy our host he pulled up beside in his car and invited us to the pub for a pint. Off we went met s few locals, drank a pint of Guinness then back to the B&ab to rest. So I thought however Patrique had other plans. First was a church from the 9th Century. All dry stacked stone and still no leaks in the stone roof.

7-8thr century chirch Ballydavid,Irl

Then on to a church, Kilmalkedar from 7th century by St. Moalcethair. Patrique told us a story of the Cro Na Snaithde (keyhole window) in the church and that if you fit through you you get to heaven. The story goes that the church caught on fire and the starving Irish made it out but the overweight oppressive English land barrens parished in the fire.

Finally back to the house for a peaceful nights sleep.

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Day 4 Dingle to Dunquin

9/15/16 Whew this was the hardest day so far. 14 mile day that started by departing  Dingle heading to Venty, about 4 easy miles other than it is all hard surface. Ventry has a small post office combo grocery store. Took a nice break and met some very kind local ladies hosting a fundraiser for Hospice. The locals had baked their best desserts for the event and they invited me to join the event. Two cups of coffee and more sweets than I care to admit I was ready to hit the next 1o miles. 

As soon as you leave Ventry you are treated to a nice long beach walk to the other side of they bay. School children were busy cleaning up the beach and locals were walking along the beach enjoying a bit of sunshine.
Next up was a bit of road walking along Sledge Drive with dramatic views of the sea before turning up to Mount Eagle. A tough climb for several hours through sheep pastures and dramatic views of the sea. 

The path was wet, uneven and a thigh burner but the day was as lovely and as magical as you would hope to find. I wish I had the words to discribe the uniqueness of walking through a new land. You get a chance to see a vista unfold, smell the earth, local bakery, the smell of livestock, getting to witness the locals, the tiny in between places that a car can never reach. You experience a level of intimacy that cannot be duplicated by any other mode of transportation other  than your own two feet.  My heaven for sure.

Besides the views and walking along ancient walls of stones we got to see many Beehive ruins. Ancient dwellings from the 9th century.

About the time I could not go uphill anymore the trail took a steep decline down to the road and the start of the entry to Dunquin.

 A stop for coffee and another two long miles on hard road to the Youth Hostel and the exceptionally kind host that takes such great care of her guest. Another great day!

View from Hostel.

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Day 3 Inch Strand to Dingle

9/13/16 left Inch Strand after another huge Irish breakfast and made our way to Annascaul following trails and secondary roads overlooking the bay then turning inland to Annascaulwith more secondary roads leading to a rocky beach and castle. 

Followed by Saint John the Baptist Well which I can find little about on the Internet.

after leaving the beach it was a few miles to Lispole then on to Dingle.

So much to share about Dingle. First stay a few nights as this is a not to miss destination. A small easy to walk village with music at every turn, fantastic shops and a great place to restock, clean up and get ready for the remainder of the trail. 

Not to miss is Dick Macks Pub which is a serious Whiskey bar and extremely knowledgable bartenders. For music just pop your head in any pub and you will find Ireland’s version of Nashville with hundreds of talented musicians on every corner. A stand out is Courthouse Pub. A sliver of a pub with an impossibly low ceiling, friendly staff and my favorite music in Dingle. 

Dick Macks Pub

Sunset over Dingle Harbor 

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Day 1 of Dingle Way/Kerry Camino. Tralee to Camp

Saturday night in Tralee. A lovely small city that is the county seat of Kerry. Arrived by train with a short walk to Castle  Hostel which turns out to be more of a B&B. Private quiet room with private bath. A fast visit to St. James ,  scouted out the start of the hiking trail and found the Kerry Camino with the icon of all Camino trails,the scallop shell.
Felt a bit a nostalgia looking at the path sign outlining the 3 day Kerry Camino. Daydreaming of my past adventures while the excitement grew for this one. By the way Dingle Way shares the same path as Kerry Camino. A true 2 for 1 deal which will allow me to add another Camino route to my list 🙂

Back to the first day of my hike. Sunday 9/11/16: Overslept, late start and epic wind/rain along the trail. Whew, the Irish weather living up to its reputation! Fortunately found recovery at the end of the day in a sliver of a pub in Camp which was built by the bartenders great  grandfather. 

 Then off to find  Lurraga House B&B ran by a kind and welcoming owner Valerie. A small nap, shower, threw on a scarf to dress up my hiking clothes and   I was ready for my evening at the pub! Sunday night at the Railroad Pub the locals gather to play their instruments and sing.The pub was right out of an Irish small independent film. The characters embracing our visions of rural Ireland by their welcoming hospitality, music, song, and dance. Even had a stumbling turn on the dance floor myself. Mike the owner busy working behind the bar took the time to drive us back to the B&B. The traditional music and singing has been the highlight of the trip so far!

I could not ask for a better first day, just cannot keep from smiling. 

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Night in Dublin

I took the bus from the airport last night to the city center with a blustery short 10 minute walk to my Hostel. A fast check in, short nap and back out at 9pm for a light bite to  eat, a wee little pint then off to bed. 

Well that was the plan I had scripted for myself but Dublin had other plans in store for me. 

As I walked into a local pub packed to the roof with Friday night revelers I found myself with barely enough room to squeeze inside the enterence door. The pub was so full that it seemed impossible to get to the bar let alone a table for my dinner.

 But it’s Ireland… so barely inside the door when a lovely Irishman started chatting me up. With pleasantries exchanged he quickly informed me that I was officially welcomed to Dublin and he was off to get me a pint. He somehow performed a miracle by  floating to the bar through a sea of locals mixed in with a few tourist like myself that were lucky enough to find this gem of a place.

Meantime my  Irishman returns pint in hand and he performs his second miracle of the night by getting us both through the crowd , past the music with couples dancing to the back of the house without spilling even a drop of mothers milk from my pint glass.  Where to sit was resolved by a group of Germans on a long weekend holiday that invited us to join them. (Continued  below) 
Needless to point out that the Irish and Germans have their love  of beer in common and the night flew by. Several pints down, a shot or two of good Irish Whiskey and all of us singing a mixture of Irish music sprinkles in with Niel Diamond, John Denver and a few other oldies but goodies. 

When did I get to bed? Oh my,  before sunrise but not enough before to beat sunup before passing out on my bunk bed. 

First night done and it was a great time. Uber lift to the train station this morning with the drivers hearty laugh still ringing in my ear after he asked how many sights did I see last night?  As I informed him just one little pub he burst out laughing and declared me to be a good Irish woman at heart.

Never did get around to dinner 😇

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