The Slea Head Drive
Usually when my wife and I travel, we get pretty lucky with weather. But this is Ireland, which is NOTORIOUS for rain. In fact, we were told that they haven't even seen the sun in Dingle for a couple of weeks, so we weren't holding our breath for the country drive today, but this morning, the sun was actually peaking out, so our streak continues! I have to admit, there was a sense of urgency throughout most of the morning. I felt like this was a trick and that the clouds were going to sneak in an pour rain on us at any moment so I was shooting like crazy trying to get a jump on it...luckily it never did rain...the sun actually came out in full force a few times...so we were able to see the Slea Head drive the way it was meant to be seen. The Slea Head Drive is one of the most famous day trips in Ireland. It starts and finished in Dingle Town and makes a cirlcle around the peninsula. You can do the whole route in a couple of hours, but if you want to stop and see the sights (which you will), then give yourself 5 to 7 hours. We were told that the tour buses all go counterclockwise, so you should go clockwise to avoid getting stuck behind them, but that wasn't the case at all. They all seemed to be going clockwise with us, but with so much to stop and see, I never once felt the need to get around a slow moving bus. In the seaside town of Ventry you reach the open coast. From here we first stopped at Dunbeg fort (500bc) which was historic, but fairly anti-climatic. Then the Bee Hive Huts (2000bc) which were much more interesting to see. After straddling a winding cliff road, through a little river and around a bend we reached Slea head, which is basically a pull off that overlooks the Atlantic and is marked by a crucifixion statue. From here you get great view of the Blasket Islands, the Sleeping Giant, Dunmore head, and the Three Sisters. STUNNING. After cutting through more open countryside you find options like the wine strand, and historic stops like the Gallarus Oratory, which is made out of nothing but stones and is thought to be somewhere in the 900-1200 years old. As you reach the north end of the drive, go left into Brandon Creek to see where St. Brandon shoved off to America. Centuries before Columbus did. From there you drive along the base of Mt. Brandon until you meet up with the main road back to Dingle Town. What can I say? A day well spent!!