I love to find beautiful places to hike! I always have to have at least one good hike on any vacation I plan. Here in Dingle, Ireland I couldn’t resist hiking up Mt. Brandon, the highest peak on the Dingle Peninsula at 953 meters (3127ft.). I had done some brief research online and found most people said it was doable in under 5 hours. However, we got lost trying to find the path which leads up, and initially started hiking on the All Saint’s path which led us through a sheep pasture and then we found ourselves boxed in with barbed wire fences on all sides and no path to be found! We had to retrace our steps and go back to our car for attempt #2. There are so many hiking/walking paths around Dingle, so to hike up Mt. Brandon it is important to follow the brown signs for Mt. Brandon and park in a small parking lot at Baile Breac.
In my family of five, I am probably the most gung-ho about taking on hikes like this, although I am also the slowest! I often joke around that I am like an ox, slow but can keep going and going. Everyone made it up to the top, even my 14yr old who wasn’t wearing the proper shoes (that’s a whole different blog post right there – how to make a teenager pack appropriately for vacation!)
To be blunt, it was hard for me. I was definitely out of breath and huffing along. BUT, I loved that the path was marked with crosses along the way. It was the perfect motivation to make it to the next cross. Then, we would rest and take a break for a few minutes (any longer and we started to get cold), then up we went headed to the next resting spot! It helped to break the mountain into small doable chunks. We didn’t have to set our goal of making it to the top – we only had to make it to the next cross. There were 14 crosses in total.
Also, note that there are white reflector posts marking the way up. We almost took a wrong turn (thanks to me!) at the very beginning of the hike until we noticed those posts.
The first 5 crosses and we felt like we had been going forever and the summit was still far away! In fact, my oldest daughter joked that it didn’t matter that we kept going to the next cross, the distance left to the summit always looked the same! Honestly, the terrain and view going up didn’t change – so it was a bit boring in comparison to Mt. Zion for example, where going up was equally challenging but had lots more to look at. Here, we would rest and look behind us for the view.
When we hit cross number 6, we still weren’t sure we were actually going to keep going to the top. Some members of the family, ahem..I shall not say names, were not keen on continuing. But we were able to convince them to just get to the next cross before deciding.
The weather can change quickly in Dingle. We were lucky that it was a sunny day and pleasantly warm. As we ascended, naturally, it got cooler and the wind was whipping. Definitly bring layers and always be ready for rain in Dingle!
When we were about 2/3 of the way up, we were blessed with an awesome view of a rain shower on the village below. It was AMAZING to see the cloud and the rain falling from our stance up on the mountain!
Finally, we decided we had come too far to turn back. We quickened our pace so that we could make it up before the rain made it to us. Okay, well, the rest of the family went faster… I just kept going as fast as I could, which was my same old pace 😉 Seriously, I don’t know how they got up so fast. But this is definitely a doable hike for anyone. There was no rock scrambling or anything that was challenging to cross. It was just uphill.
It was EXTREMELY satisfying making it up to the summit! When you got all the way to the top, you finally got a peek at the view of the other side of the mountain – beautiful blue ocean and rolling hills. The 360 degree view was excellent.
On our way down, the clouds were blowing in and for a few minutes all you would see is white and then they would drift over and glimpses of bright green valleys and hills would come into view. It was so beautiful – better than if we had clear skies!
I love going down a mountain – it’s always faster and I can enjoy the views without being so out of breath. The countryside, the sheer amount of green, the valleys and ocean – so much to look at and soak in! It took us about 4 hours from start to finish and it was well worth it.
Oh! One more thing about hiking Mt. Brandon – SHEEP! EVERYWHERE! My daughter was hilarious, trying to touch the sheep. She kept trying to creep up and get close enough, but they wouldn’t let her! It was fun though just walking along with them freely grazing next to us.