Biking Dingle’s ‘Slea Head Drive’

Biking Dingle’s ‘Slea Head Drive’

The first time I visited Ireland on a family holiday in 2008, I was blown away by the stunning scenery. The endless emerald fields seem to only be interrupted by the vibrant colors of wildflowers or the crystal blue of the water – it was heaven and I was immediately in awe.DSCN6155 (1)When I decided to spend three months outside of Dingle in mid-2015, I expected to experience this natural beauty, but I was not prepared for the breathtaking scenery I would soon come to accept as the view from my front porch. Again, I found myself in awe of this incredible country.DSCN6199 (1)In my first weeks I set out to explore a bit around Ballyferriter, the village where I lived. Though daily walks to the beach and through the rolling hills filled me with peace and serenity, I decided that it would be a shame if I left my Irish summer without experiencing the Slea Head Drive in all of its glory. After all, the B&B is located on the drive and I spent day and night telling our guests why they shouldn’t miss it, so why had I not explored it myself?DSCN6161One morning when Aisling and I had finished our tasks earlier than usual, I decided it was the perfect day for my local endeavour. A few minutes later, I found myself strolling down a nondescript Dingle lane towards the popular, yet quiet Paddy’s Bike Shop.DSCN6205 (1)As I popped my head in, I was greeted by the friendly local owner – no surprise here – Paddy. After a quick chat, he handed me a helmet, bike lock, a map of the possible routes for biking along the Slea Head Drive. With a quick farewell, he sent me on my way.

As I fidgeted with the gears and seat outside the small shop, I was buzzing with excitement as I looked up at the clear skies and felt a light, cool breeze – truly luck ‘o the Irish for my outting!DSCN6196 (1)

The Slea Head Drive, or locally called Slí Cheann Sléibhe, is a circular route which runs along the westernmost part of the Dingle Peninsula and makes up a portion of the Wild Atlantic Way, a great route to consider if you’re road tripping along the west coast of Ireland.DSCN6159 (1)The Slea Head Drive boasts famous spots along its path such as the setting of the 1970s film Ryan’s Daughter, Dunmore Head or the dock for visiting the Blasket Islands, a few of the last remaining homes of the Kerry famine, Gallarus Oratory, and much more.IMG_7733DSCN6181In my opinion, the scenery along this route offers views and vantage points just as impressive (if not more stunning) than it’s more popular fellow-Kerry route, the Ring of Kerry.DSCN6175Along the 25 mile route, the road is frequently winding and occasionally single laned. During my bike ride I felt very comfortable biking alongside the tour buses and cars, as everyone drove slowly to soak up the incredible sights.DSCN6187 (1)Whenever I wanted to pause for a quick photo op or simply take a moment to soak in the sights, I could just drop my bike and hop a fence to explore, an option that drivers and tour bus goers did not have.

In the picture shown below, I hopped a fence into a private pasture and shared a few minutes snapping pictures between a herd of very confused cows. Could you imagine this view everyday?! It was incredible.IMG_7777 DSCN6192 (1)As with most Irish outings, this one did not pass without a quick rain shower, but it was almost welcomed as it offered me a cool, refreshing shower halfway through my ride.DSCN6163 DSCN6174 (1)DSCN6190DSCN6152

If you’re visiting Dingle and the weather is clear, I would highly recommend exploring the Slea Head Drive by bike. The path is clearly laid out and, if you rent from Paddy’s Bike Shop in Dingle town, you are supplied with a helpful map. As a non-biker, the ride was not extremely challenging for me, though there were a few hills along the route that made me question my fitness level. The entire route took me about 4 hours, which included stopping off at various points for picture and snack breaks.