By Judy Bereza, Guest Blogger
When four American ladies who love to hike (read hiking boots, back packs and walking sticks), and also qualify for the title “Senior”, decide to go hiking in Southwest Ireland, how do they make this happen?
First, you need to know this: Ireland is not Switzerland, where we hiked without assistance two years ago. (If you are interested, read my guest blog from July 17, 2011,click here to read “Hiking in Switzerland”.) If you want to explore the Dingle, Beara and Iveragh Peninsulas you really need a vehicle. And if you can’t imagine navigating narrow, twisting hedge-bordered roads while driving on the “wrong” side, think guide. That’s where “Southwest Walks Ireland” comes in. Now imagine a walking company that takes care of everything; a custom designed trip tailored specifically to the abilities and goals of our small group, with total flexibility to adapt to changes in weather and stamina.
Linda Woods, our amazing guide, met us the first morning of our adventure and hiked with us along a beautiful beach that stretches south from Dingle, a small village on the Dingle Peninsula, then up and around the tip of the peninsula, called Slea Head. She assessed our abilities, kept us fascinated with tales of the history and lore of Ireland, had transportation awaiting us at the end of the hike, made dinner reservations for us at a lovely local restaurant, and even arranged for a almost cloudless Ireland day.
Each day that followed was as seamless as the first day, with varied walks that included a hike around Blasket Island, an historic island off the coast of Dingle, a challenging hike over the highest waymarked trail in Ireland, walks through historic gardens, a walk around Muckross Lake in Killarney National Park, and of course, obligatory visits to local pubs and shops.
Our guide was with us the entire week. We moved once after the third day from Dingle to the Iveragh Peninsula, commonly known as the Ring of Kerry. We settled into a villa on the grounds of Sheen Falls Lodge near Kenmare, at the junction of the Iveragh and Beara Peninsulas. Kenmare, in addition to being a scenic and inviting Irish town, provides a favorable location for exploring each peninsula. Despite being adjacent, they are strikingly diverse in geography, and the vistas are jaw dropping from the top of a challenging and satisfying ascent.
Ireland is on almost every traveler’s bucket list with good reason – this small country is filled with “scenery, culture, history, splendor, and the warmth and enthusiasm of theIrish people.” Now, where to go next…..
Guest Blogger Judy Bereza
Judy Bereza is a retired interior designer/kitchen expert, constant walker and “Nana” to three adorable grand children. She and her friends have walked taken hiking trips in Wales, Cornwall, Switzerland, Smokey National Park and now Ireland.