If you ever have the opportunity to hike in another country, don’t think. Just say yes.
Is it going to be easy, no.
Are you going to hate it at some point, yes.
But go on and do it anyways. It doesn’t have to be ten days like my friends did or even five days (which turned out to be three for me) even if it’s just a day it is an experience of a life time.
Rarely when one travels do you find yourself away from the busy city life, off the highway and tucked up in some remote corner of somewhere looking at the most peaceful and beautiful scenery imaginable. Getting to this idyllic local is going to be hard, but you can train for that. And do, if you need help check out all my training posts.
You learn a lot about yourself under duress and duress it will be. No matter how ‘easy’ a trail it is, 14-17 miles a day will never actually be easy. These things you learn, mostly about how to overcome the discomfort and instead appreciate your opportunity and surroundings, are things that help make us all better people. Thus pushing these limits is important.
All the difficulties aside, at the end of the day you accomplished a physical feat that will remind you that you are alive and capable and strong. You spent time outdoors, freeing your mind of daily clutter. You spent time with people you love without the distractions of daily life. At least hopefully you love them. You will find out real quick on the trail if you don’t.
Reasons why you should embark on such a trip aside, here are some things to remember if you are thinking of this particular trip.
Starting with if you want to hire a tour company and which company. You can manage without a tour company, inns in the area will transport your bags and thanks to online maps you can find your own directions. Figure out what your budget is and what your comfort level of the unknown is. If you hire a company, research. Find out what they offer, what their transport is in case of emergency. For example ours provided extremely detailed directions which other hikers were envious of, I don’t know what company they used. But if instructions are important to you, look at Wonderful Ireland Walking Tours. They were lovely people and treated us like gold the entire time.
Remember the Weather
It’s Ireland, it rains, a lot. Research the weather patterns and rainfall averages. Figure out if you would prefer rain over mosquitos. It’s one or the other.
Even if you have transport for larger bags, any bag with any weight is going to get uncomfortable after 6 hours. Get fitted for a good pack and get light gear. Look up Dingle Ireland packing lists and just bring it all. I mean this honestly. The lists are very comprehensive. And very true with regard to waterproof items. My only additional suggestion to the list is to also bring sneakers. Hiking boots are great in rocky or mucky trail, which there is a lot of. But here is also a lot of road walking. Your feet, hips and knees with thank you for the extra cushion that you can slip on when the weather allows for it.
Bring First Aid
This is especially true if hiking the Dingle Way. Not because it is particularly perilous, but because it is remote. Very very remote. There was approximately three towns in five days that had anything close to sun screen or band aids. Only two had actual pharmacies with things like pain killers and blister pads. You don’t need to bring your entire medicine cabinet but a couple of things to get you to the pharmacy is a must. Especially those blister pads. TRUST ME.