Today was Day 28 when I hoped to reach my goal. The forecast was not good; it would soon start to rain and then become increasingly heavy. I looked out and it was another one of those Irish Mist mornings. Had a splendid, filling breakfast in preparation for the day with the slice of Irish soda bread which comes with almost every meal (though I think you need to be Irish to enjoy it). The reviews for de Morda had also been enthusiastic about Angela’s packed lunch.
Before I started the tour, I had thought very carefully about what rainproof gear to wear. It needed to be as light as possible but protect me from all weathers. Waterproof cycling jackets work well for cycling but not for walking around in heavy rain so I had bought a top-of-the-range Gore-tex jacket which has a waterproof breathable membrane and had worked exactly as promised, never letting wet in, or getting me sweaty. It was very light and also worked well when cycling and I would need it today.
I put the packed lunch in a plastic bag with my light binoculars and the large scale map for the area. The gate to Dunmore Head is less than 2 miles from de Mordha but as I started walking up the road it started to rain. Dunmore Head is, at first, dome like, then westward turns into a ridge descending to the sea with a line of three rocks in the sea.
There is a small gate where you are invited to make a contribution of €1, a bit cheaper than Lands End in Cornwall. There is another small notice to say that part of Stars Wars had been filmed there.
The pathway up the side was very rough and dramatic as it ran along the top of the cliff, with normally grand views along the coast but now with waves sweeping on the sandy cove below. I was getting exposed to an increasingly strong wind and heavier rain but carried on. After some time I rounded the hill and was able to work out where the mainland ended and took a photo. The headland loses height, becoming narrower until there is a narrow channel of sea between it and three off-shore islands. From the distance there was no indication that the end was marked but the channel was clearly where the mainland finished.
I rounded the bluff near the top and was immediately hit by very strong gusts hurtling around it, the same sort of effect that you get around tall buildings. The rain seemed even heavier and I edged cautiously downwards as it became increasingly steep and rocky. I could see most of the way now but it looked very difficult to get all the way down to the channel. I inched along, holding on to rocks or the grass, when a particularly heavy gust whistled by knocking me down so I decided this was my “ Lands End” and took a photo. I had started to head back when a young couple, the only
people I had seen on the top so far, passed rather more confidently. I was rather pleased to see, however, that their “Lands End” was not much further down than mine.
The Blasket Islands were much nearer and I tried out the binoculars to see if I could spot the seals which used the beaches there. I thought I could see some grey forms on the beach but it was not clear enough to be certain. The visibility was being reduced by the even heavier rain.
I headed up to the top to seek the shelter of a small observation post erected there in the war and was able to go inside to eat the packed lunch and warm up. I tried to take some photos but now had the same problem that I had had at the loch at Anascaul when my finger and the mobile were too wet to unlock it . A short distance further was an erect stone which was one of a number of Ogham Stones placed in prominent situations in the Peninsular.
Ogham Stones are so called because they have inscriptions in Ogham, the primitive Irish language first used in about the fourth century, which consists of a combination of straight lines carved on the rock. They usually commemorate someone and this one was known as the Coumeenoole Ogham Stone which commemorated Erc (Eric) but also mentioned Dovina so it was possibly a place of ritual worship to the fertility goddess Duibhe (Dovinnias). I was determined to get a photograph and eventually did as the rain was not falling so heavily.
I could then see that there was a quicker way to the exit by crossing the dome, although I did not spot that the heather hid some rocky hollows so I came a cropper a couple of times and collected a few spines in my hands. I soon reached the road and noticed on the way back that the cafe was still open, so I had a warming cup of coffee and some food.
On arriving back at the B & B, when Angela opened the door she said instantly “get all those wet clothes off and give them to me and I will put them in the dryer”. Much later, after I returned, two separate groups of walkers arrived and each was greeted by the
same great welcome as I had by Angela when I first arrived and an immediate invitation to hand her their wet clothes. Both groups had both been walking around the Peninsula on the coastal path shown on the maps as Sli Chorca Dhuibhne (The Dingle Way). One group was German, the other American/Canadian. Speaking to them later, both said what a hard day it had been, rocky and exposed and they had only been able to travel slowly. They took a taxi to Ballyferriter for their evening meal.