Hiking the Dingle Way in Ireland

Week of January 8-14, 1998
Hiking the Dingle Way in Ireland
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Hiking the Dingle Way in Ireland
Question: I am traveling to Ireland with my wife and two young children in June and July. We do a lot of backpacking and wonder where the more interesting hikes can be found in Ireland.

David Wilder
Clinton, WA

Adventure Adviser: All paths lead to the Dingle Way — figuratively speaking, of course.

Everywhere I turn it seems someone is talking about this 110-mile loop starting in Tralee. Located on the Dingle Peninsula, one of five peninsulas that jut out from southwestern Ireland, the Dingle Way traverses sandy beaches bordering crashing seas and fuschia- and gorse-lined roads leading to heather-covered hills up 2,000-foot mountain passes.

Though the scenery is spectacular, the best part about the Dingle Way is that you will travel through Dingle Gaeltacht, one of the few remaining Gaelic-speaking areas left in Ireland.

It's not uncommon to walk through a village where every kid knows the name of every shopkeeper on the street. Plus the music, dance, and food is spectacular, so on rainy days you can hide out in a pub eating local seafood until the weather clears.

With two small kids you may want to base yourself in Dingle, home of Fungi, Ireland's famous bottle-nose dolphin that took up residence in Dingle Harbor in 1984. Dingle also offers a local sailing club, coastal tours, fishing, and diving expeditions, plus cafes and pubs like the An Dreolin and the Small Bridge, which rock with fiddle tunes and hearty locals' laughter.

Though the route is marked and you could pretty easily venture out on your own, there are a number of companies that offer custom tours as well as self-guided tours, the latter of which offers overnights in quaint bed and breakfasts along the way.

For more information on the Dingle Way, call Hidden Ireland Tours (800-868-4750) or Celtic Nature Expeditions (011-353-66-59882 or e-mail at info@oconnor.ie).

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