In the groove
Marvel at the towering flanks of a glaciated valley
In an area that suffered not only the ravages of valley glaciers but also was smothered by massive ice sheets moving down from the north, the Dingle Peninsula has its fair share of spectacular glacial landforms. The Glenahoo Valley has the distinction of being one of the least known and one of the most dramatic of these formidable features.
Initially the track is grassy and overgrown but you soon emerge from it into this great glaciated valley. Glenahoo is a classic trough gouged out by glacial erosion, with towering vertical flanks and a flat floor.
It does not have any ribbon lakes,which are common in such valleys as their outlets are blocked by mounds of moraine, with rock debris which accumulates at the front of a glacier forming a natural dam. In the case of Glenahoo, its river has eroded its terminal moraine to such an extent that the lakes have drained away, leaving a level floor along which the river meanders in great loops. The alluvial soils provide great pasture, giving the glen its name, the “Plain of the Cattle”
At the head of the valley you will find the ruins of two cottages. This is one of the most evocative locations I have come across of an isolated pre-Famine settlement. Sitting among the ruins looking out through the doorway at the cliffs and waterfalls which dominate my view, I reflect that it must have been a grim spot in winter with the mist swirling around the crags, while the occasional rock fall added a touch of foreboding. But on this sunny day the scene was one of overwhelming beauty.
Behind the remnants of the settlement the slopes are marked by a series of stakes that mark the way across the moors to the Anascaul Valley. Follow the track up to the ford and then turn north along a ridge which is parallel to your inward route and leads to spot 592m in height. It’s a bit of a pull at the start but the ground underfoot is grassy and makes for easy going.
As you get higher, the slope gets less steep and you have a chance to look down into the glen and relish your lofty perspective. When you attain the spot height you will be rewarded with a superlative view. To the west, the stark cooms of the Brandon Range; below you the great sickle of Castlegregory Beach beyond which lies Kerry Head; on a clear day you should be able to pick out Loop Head. The peaks of the Slieve Mish stretch away to the east and you even have a view across to the Iveragh Mountains.
For your descent, keep to the north spur until you are level with the start of the forest and fenced fields and drop down to the valley track to avoid them. Even if you’re not a hill walker, take up a stroll up the valley. You’ll be enchanted.
Map: Ordnance Survey, Discovery Series, Sheet 70.
Getting there: The walk is signposted at grid reference 557 104 where a track leads into the valley. Take the road along the north side of the Dingle Peninsula, from Castlegregory to Dingle. The track starts about 500m to the east of a sharp bend where the road crosses the river.
Time: 5 hours. Total ascent: 530m. Distance: 8km Suitability: moderate.