The Slea Head Drive
The Slea Head Drive ~ Slí Cheann Sléibhe
The Slea Head Drive (Slí Cheann Sléibhe) is a circular route, forming part of the Wild Atlantic Way, beginning and ending in Dingle, that takes in a large number of attractions and stunning views on the western end of the peninsula. The route is clearly labelled by road signs throughout its length. To properly enjoy the Drive, a half-day should be set aside for the journey.
Travellers usually travel clockwise in order to avoid the large tour buses that frequent the route during the summer. The route is suitable for motorists, but is also enjoyed by cyclists: it is possible to hire a bike at a number of locations in Dingle.
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On leaving Dingle, the Drive passes over Milltown Bridge, past the woodlands at Burnham to the seaside village of Ventry. The long, curved strand is a blue flag beach and offers a safe venue for bathing and water sports.
On leaving Ventry the Drive continues westward, past Dunbeg Fort, and continuing with a sheer cliff on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. At Fahan the road crosses a ford.
The Drive now reaches Slea Head itself, marked by a stone crucifixion scene, with dramatic views to South Kerry and the Blasket Islands. The Drive now follows the coast north, past Coumenoole Strand, where some of the filming of Ryan's Daughter took place, to Dún Chaoin. It is possible to board a passenger ferry to the Great Blasket / An Blascaod Mór from Dún Chaoin pier.
The Drive continues north and east from Dún Chaoin through wild open countryside, moving inland to the village of Baile an Fheirtéaraigh / Ballyferriter. The village has a number of bars, a shop and is the site of the Corca Dhuibhne Regional Museum.
The Drive now moves eastward, passing close to a number of ancient monuments, such as the excavated early Christian site at Reasc, and Gallarus Oratory.
The traveller will next arrive at the fishing village of Baile na nGall/Ballydavid. On leaving the village the drive again follows a cliff-top route, with a dramatic seascape of crashing waves, rocks and seabirds below.
At An Fheothanach/Feohanagh a bridge is crossed and the route brings you to Cuas an Bhodaigh or Brandon Creek. This inlet was the legendary starting point of the voyage of St Brendan to America, centuries before Columbus.
The Drive now turns south and runs along the base of Mount Brandon, the second highest mountain in Ireland. A pilgrimage route to the mountain's summit begins near here.
The Drive now rejoins the main road south to Dingle, passing over a hill's crest at Ballinlochaigh and arriving back at the entrance to the town.