I have a confession. I'm was a cheater. While studying up on my hike the night before, I realized that there were a couple of detours I wanted to take on my final day of hiking. The trail alone was already a pretty hefty hike, so Alice's husband, John, offered to drop me off a little farther down the trail than the actual starting point. I'm not afraid to admit it: I accepted without a second thought. I am not hardcore.
I spent some quality time at Clogher Strand, a beautiful beach with views of one of the Blasket Islands, Inishtooskert or An Fear Marbh (translated in English: The Dead Man- which seems appropriate- pictured below, left).
And then began one of my favorite parts of the journey. If I had the ability to type the rest of this post in the format of floating words in space, I would. It just so happened to be May 4. That's right: Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you.)
The trail to Luke Skywalker's observation point was right off the Dingle Way. It was a fairly steep hill, and it took at least 30 minutes to make the trip up and back- probably longer since I stood in awe of the views for awhile. There was a replica of Luke Skywalker's meditation rock in the location that the scene was filmed. I have to admit that although it was gorgeous, the location is a far cry from the movie, thanks to CGI. But either way, the force was strong here.
Shortly after I departed, a convention of Jedi arrived on the scene for what I'm sure was an ancient secret ritual. I gave them my best Jedi nod with hopes they'd put in a good word for me with Yoda, but I'm sure Yoda would say that my fear of clowns would get in my way of becoming a Jedi.
Yoda: "I sense much fear in you." Me: "Yeah, you right. Thanks for your time."
The rest of the hike meandered along the coastline, and took me through several communities and neighborhoods with adorable little cottages. I made a quick stop at the pub, Tigh TP, but I was very overwhelmed by a tourist bus along with a large crowd of locals there to take in a rugby match. Continuing in my anti-social old lady theme, I politely and quietly ate my chowder then hurried on my way. After about another 3 miles, I arrived at An Riasc (REE-isk) Bed and Breakfast. Denise and her staff were so kind and hospitable, and the house itself was what I had always imagined when dreaming about my Irish adventures.
Denise served me a proper Irish tea, then I retreated to my room to take a luxurious bath and reflect on the trip. My only regret is that I didn't have more time to stay and relax at An Riasc. It was so perfect.
So there you have it. My adventures along the Dingle Way. I have shared a few tips below about my experience with the hike and with Hillwalk Tours. There is no way I could have done it without them. I am far too directionally-challenged. I also love cozy beds and hot showers at the end of a long day. Thanks for joining me on this fantastic adventure, and a special thank you to the country of Ireland for being so dang beautiful.
Me: "I love you."
Ireland: "I know."
Tips for my Fellow Hillwalkers
It's less about physical ability and more about your desired pace. I thought far too highly of myself. Knowing I was in shape, I chose moderate. Physically, it wasn't difficult, but I forgot that I also have the attention span of a child surrounded by 7 flavors of ice cream. I stare at the views, take a million pictures, and stop for a few moments to appreciate the moment. If you're like this, choose the "Gentle" option. You may not get to see the entire trail, but you'll have more time to simply enjoy. If you're a head-down, destination kind of person, Moderate or Challenging will be more your speed.
It will probably rain. Prepare for that. Yes, absolutely bring the right gear, but also prepare your mind. Decide beforehand that you're going to enjoy the hike, rain or shine.
Budget time for Star Wars detours in the areas surrounding the town of Dingle. These can add an hour or so to your day, so prepare for that.
Carry some Euros with you, for food or for detours. Often the attractions don't exactly charge, but there's a donation box for upkeep that you should put a couple Euros into.
I went the first weekend in May, and apparently I beat all the hikers by about a week. The trails get much more busy when summer hits, so if you're a solitary creature, late April/early May is perfect for you.