Very happy hikers on the Kerry Camino | Sue Finn
Sue Walks the Kerry Camino
In May 2023, three years later than first planned, Sue & Harry and their good friends, Jenny & Kevin, embarked on a six-day self-guided Kerry Camino walk
along Ireland’s glorious Dingle Peninsula.
Here’s Sue’s account of their much-anticipated pilgrim's walk.
Day One: And so it begins...
We turn our backs to the bustling town of Tralee and head west along the Dingle Peninsula on day one of our Kerry Camino. Fully expecting (and receiving) rain, wind and cold weather, we are rugged up and waterproofed from head to toe, quietly excited about our day’s walk along the lower slopes of the ruggedly handsome Slieve Mish Mountains.
On this leg, we’ll walk 20 kilometres through truly Irish countryside until we reach our day’s end, with not a coffee van, deli or pub (and only a handful of hikers) to be met along the way. With fog swirling above and the blue waters of the bay and lush green fields beckoning below, we paused for our lunchtime pit stop, sheltered from the late spring wind with only the ubiquitous sheep as fellow diners.
Our day was all we’d been promised and more when we signed up for this Irish Camino walk: the remote, peaceful, and spectacular untouched countryside. And it ended as we’d planned - in The Junction Bar in the tiny village of Camp, perched on stools, enjoying a well-earned Guinness (or ‘Shandy’ in my case) and a packet of crisps.
"Hope you enjoyed the rain today," the barman said, "there’s only sunshine ahead of you now.”
And indeed there was.
Day Two: An Irish Blessing
Oh to be blessed by the Irish. On this section, we followed narrow country lanes through ancient bogland towards the Wild Atlantic Way with the wind at our back, the sun warm upon our faces and a much anticipated coffee and lunch break at Ireland’s glorious Inch Beach.
We lingered longer than need be at the cafe, warmed by the sun (and for some a splash of Irish whiskey in the coffee) before continuing up, over and down the rolling green hills to Annascaul Village.
“Go n-éirí an bóthar leat” - having “succeeded on the road” we rounded off the day at the South Pole Inn, soaking up the afternoon rays, chatting with the locals and quietly celebrating another great day on the Kerry Camino.
Day Three: Hello Wild Atlantic Way
Quiet country lanes, sweeping ocean vistas, exceptionally sunny days, abandoned stone farmhouses crumbling under the weight of neglect and rolling green hill, after rolling green hill. Surely this landscape could not get any better.
And yet it does.
On the walk from Annascaul to Dingle we rounded a bend in the road to be greeted by a pod of dolphins frolicking in Kilmurry Bay (aka the Bay of Stones). The ancient ruins of Minard Castle perched on the hill above the beach were meant to be the main attraction but those dolphins sure did steal the show.
The Kerry Camino really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Day Four: Beaches and more beaches
Our final day of the Kerry Camino Walk brought more sunshine and the promise that the Dingle to Slea Head section is "one of the most spectacular walks in Ireland”. We suspected this would be the case. Everyone we’d spoken to along the way had told us the last section was the most beautiful. So we promised each other that today we’d take every opportunity to "stop and smell the pink sea daisies”.
An early morning coffee in the sunshine at Ventry Beach Post Office (also an award-winning delicatessen, grocery store and newsagent), breathing in the sea air as we strolled along Ventry Beach, quiet moments of contemplation along country lanes, chatting to farmers as we passed through their land and an impromptu picnic on an old stone wall with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.
All this by lunchtime and the best yet to come.
Our final stretch of the Kerry Camino took us high above the Wild Atlantic Way, picking our way along the ridgeline at the base of Mount Eagle. Far below us, a narrow, winding road hugged the coastline, tiny cars making their way cautiously along the route between Dingle and Dunquin. Stonewalls crisscrossed the hills. Ancient ring forts, coloured coded sheep and crisp white farmhouses dotted the countryside. The turquoise bays and sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean shimmered and sparkled in the afternoon sun.
As we rounded a hill the magnificent Slea Head appeared below us, tourists scurrying across its emerald green cliffs blissfully unaware of the greater view to be enjoyed from above. Offshore in the distance we spotted the great Blasket Islands, long abandoned but stoically holding their place in Irish history.
This was the rugged, ancient landscape that we had flown halfway around the world and hiked 80 kilometres to see.
As they say, good things come to those who wait.
Thanks to Sue Finn for her magnificent Traveller Tale. Follow Sue on Instagram
for more of her great travel photos and insights.
Are you keen to explore the Emerald Isle, or have you already been and have an experience to share? Let us know in the comment section below.