We completed day three of our Dingle Way hike and I must start by saying that the day was gorgeous. We enjoyed perfect weather with a few showers to start but then blue sky, puffy clouds and a light breeze; a far cry from yesterday! The scenery too was a typical serving of Irish awesome.
The trail though…bleeeech. Most times, I’m not sure it could be called a trail. Today was over 14 miles - a couple more than our guide indicated - and consisted of:
- 60% paved roads. Hard, hard roads. Our feet are sore.
- 20% well-kept boreen, trail and soft path. Delightful!
- 20% muddy, mucky, schlocky, shoe-sucking ick. C'mon Dingle Way, show us some love!
The ick was particularly icky today. There’s been a lot of rain over the past five days so we knew we’d face dodgy conditions, but wow. It’s hard to imagine that some of these areas are ever passable. Multiple times we faced narrow paths with overgrown blackberries and gorse on either side and the center filled with deep churned-up muck. The muck seemed an extra special brand of brown stuff made rich with help from the local sheep and livestock. I actually laughed with delight when we reached a portion of the Way that had basically become a river. Water was gushing all around, but hey, at least it was clean clear water running over a rocky path.
This was the moment I realized I’m spoiled rotten - I’ve been lucky enough to hike well maintained trails all over the U.S. Thank you, forest service personnel and volunteers at the local, state and national level. You do a bang-up job and I appreciate you!
Back to the Dingle Way: There was a fair amount of cursing today and I began to dread each time the trail turned off a main road. I was muttering in earnest around mile 12 when the trail turned away from Dingle (our destination) and climbed uphill. Ah, but this was the moment the Way redeemed itself. We climbed to a contour where the trail hugged a low mountain and took us on a scenic jaunt around a valley studded with sheep, cows and warren of rock walls. After one final climb, we crested a hill to behold charming Dingle beckoning below. Incredible payoff.
And so we completed day three of the Dingle Way. A friend joins us tonight to hike the remaining five days, and tomorrow begins with a beach walk - yay!