If you are spending a few days on the Dingle peninsula and looking for somewhere to blow the cobwebs away while doing your daily 10,000 steps, then you might like to pass a few hours on the Maharees.
Maharees (Na Machairí) is a 5km long sandy spit jutting out into Tralee Bay. Surrounded by water on 3 sides, the area is a natural environment of sand dunes, sea and surf. This wild place has its own unique ecosystem and is home to the rare Natterjack Toad which is found locally in significant quantities as well as the Whooper Swan and the Bewick’s Mute Swan. With great beaches which are perfect for surfing and other watersports, the area has long been a popular location for family holidays.
If you’re setting out from Dingle, you’ve the bonus of getting there over the famous Conor Pass…
Now normally, I’d probably devote an entire post to such a beautiful drive but … well… see for yourselves…..
Stunning views at every bend – NOT!
Everyone is super careful….. but I’d rather hug the cliff than hang on the side with the sheer drop!
The Maharees are pretty much at sea level so you will leave the cloud behind you ….
From the beach in Fahamore, you can see across Brandon Bay to Mount Brandon….
Park at the famous Spillane’s pub – this might be a good spot for lunch after your walk….
The sand gives way to a bit of soil and rocky ground around the hamlet. Imagine the work that went into clearing these fields…. The easiest way to get rid of stones was to build walls. These dry stone walls are very much part of our history and heritage. There is an estimated 400,000 kms of dry stone walls in Ireland!
There’s the trail – heading off down an overgrown lane towards the shore…
Standing Stone – there isn’t a lot known about standing stones but they were probably the sites of some form of ritual.
This is Scraggane Bay. Fishing and farming is still important here but tourism is hugely important to the area.
Currachs are built locally and used for fishing.
Scattered in front of us are the Maharee Islands, more commonly called the Seven Hogs (Gurrig, Illaunboe, Illaunimmil, Illauntannig, Illaunturlogh, Inishtooskert and Mucklaghbeg to be precise!). The largest – Illauntannig – lies about a mile out from Scraggane Pier and contains a 7th century monastic site founded by St. Senan.
The islands were actually inhabited as lately as the early 1980s. They now serve as summer grazing for the livestock of local farmers. Until recently, farmers would swim their cattle and sheep across to the islands at low tide, rowing alongside them in their currachs or other small boats (nowadays, they tow a modified cage on a flotation device behind their boat).
On the other side of Scraggane Bay we reach the hamlet of Kilshannig.
St. Senach’s Church (possibly 15th century) served as the mainland church for the monastery on the island.
The grounds were later converted into the local graveyard..
Slabs such as these might have been used in pagan rituals before the area was Christianised.
Those monks knew how to pick a view!
Our walk continues around the head towards Tralee Bay on the other side of the peninsula…
Digging for gold, bait or lunch!!
We eventually turn inland and away from the sea.
Its not far across to the other side of the headland and back to Fahamore…
Alas Spillanes is still closed so we are going back over the Conor Pass for Fish and Chips in Dingle….
..so I get another chance to show you the Conor Pass…..
This is promising – we can actually see the roadsigns…..
At least this time we are hugging the cliff when we meet oncoming traffic…..
It must be quite a cycle – no mater what the weather…..
Dingle at last….. we think!!
Like another climate zone… not a bad afternoon at all…..
Well this is the place for Fish ‘n’ Chips in town. Its worth joining the queue at The Fish Box for … well anything really … its all yum. As it is now 3.00pm – and we are dining out at 8.30pm – we decide to share a €14 Fishbox which included monkfish, prawns, calamari and fries. But then we spot someone with the €10 open prawn sandwich – so we have to include that (for research purposes only of course!)
We’d better do another 10,000 steps before dinner!!!
Distance from Dingle to Fahamore – 30km (40 minute drive).
Length of walk – The full loop takes about 4 hours – we cut off part of the loop and walked for about 2 hours ( circa 8 km).
Grade – Easy