Annascaul is one of the Atlantic ways hidden Gems with many walking trails & cycling routes. Annascaul Lake offers breath-taking views & the haunting beauty of the surrounding landscape. Annascaul village boasts of good food, a warm welcome & plenty of traditions, music & stories in our many local pubs. One of which is the home place of Tom Crean (Antarctic Explorer). One of the largest collections of Jerome Connors work (World renowned Sculpture) can be found in Annascaul Village.
With Tralee at your back, all roads lead west to a place that National Geographic once called “the most beautiful place on earth”: the Dingle Peninsula. Creep along the north of the peninsula, tracking west past through the villages of Camp and Castlegregory. The hulk of Mount Brandon (named after Saint Brendan) looms large after tiny Cloghane village; it’s the highest peak on the peninsula and marks the end of a Christian pilgrimage trail.
Next, along what is known as the Slea Head Drive, stop at one of the peninsula’s most mysterious sights: Gallarus Oratory. Completely made of stone, and in the shape of an upturned boat, Gallarus Oratory (and its adjoining 15th-century castle) is an early Christian church overlooking Smerwick Harbour. The coastal scenery revs up the drama after the tiny village of Ballyferriter (and the very beautiful Beál Bán beach), as you head towards the pretty Gaeltacht village of Dunquin, with views that stretch out to the deserted Blasket Islands.
Should Dunquin’s super-pretty harbour or surrounds look familiar, don’t be surprised. The film Ryan’s Daughter was predominantly shot in the townland here. Don’t miss a walk along Coumeenole Beach, with its little rock pools, tiny caves and surging blue Atlantic Ocean. The views of the deserted Blasket Islands are great from here – the last residents were evacuated from the islands on 17 November 1953, and most settled in Dunquin.
You can take a boat from Dunquin out to the Great Blasket during the summer months, to explore quiet, pristine beaches and heather-flecked hills. Be on the lookout, too, for “An Fear Marbh” (The Dead or Sleeping Man), a Blasket island called Inishtooskert eerily mimicking a sleeping (or dead!) giant on his back.
Bid farewell to the Blaskets and Dunquin’s quixotic harbour and begin the final scenic stretch to Dingle town. Make sure to stop off at Louis Mulcahy’s shop along the way, where you can pick up a beautiful piece of handmade pottery, or try your hand at making your own.
Dingle town next and it is the best of both possible worlds. It has an arty bohemian vibe (local weavers, cheesemakers, potters and jewellers call the town home), while at the same time maintaining a traditional heart that never seems to erode (unparalleled traditional pubs and friendly locals speaking beautiful Irish are two of Dingle’s claims to fame).
The town beats with a culinary heart, too, and its annual food festival (October) is one of the island’s finest. Savour excellent seafood at Out of the Blue and the Global Village restaurants; enjoy the “craic” at Foxy John’s, half-hardware store/half-pub; or get to know “real” Irish cookery at the Dingle Cookery School (from summer 2014).
The Wild Atlantic Way was an initiative undertaken by Ireland’s tourism board. Ireland knows that it does not have the climate to offer sun holidays but what it can provide is great food and entertainment. Above all though is the opportunity to visit an area for hill walking purposes.
Ireland and in particular the areas along the Dingle peninsula offer walking routes that are suitable for accomplished and beginner walkers alike. Annascaul is on the Atlantic Way and offers great lodgings and local foods. Drop in and stay with us when you are passing. We offer walks including the Dingle way and a range of other walks in the local area.