Up Sauce Creek

 

Nestling between cliffs on the north coast of the Dingle Peninsula, Sauce Creek rewards the walker with a vast panorama, writes Tony Doherty

ON THE NORTH COAST of Dingle Peninsula a great rampart of 300m cliffs runs from Brandon Creek, from where St Brendan set sail to Brandon Point. Indented in this formidable coastline is a spectacular cove called An Sas, or Sauce Creek. A waymarked route has been developed by Comhlacht Breannain Teo. Easily reached from Tralee or Dingle, it is worth including on any holiday itinerary.

From the village of Cloghane follow the road to Brandon Quay for three and a half kilometres. At the sharp right-hand bend, keep left and follow the signs for Teer Gallery. You'll find a small car park 100m beyond the end of the tarred road.

Going through the turnstile, follow the bog road for two kilometres, until you come to a white fingerpost that points to An Sas. A grassy track will bring you uphill to the first marker, which is on a two-metre-high mound. The next mark is on a low ridge to the north.

Follow the ridge to the next marker, then go north again to the one that marks the edge of the cliffs. From here follow the fence that runs along the clifftop to Slieveglass, a flat heathery area with great views into the cove. Don't go near the edge!

An extraordinary landscape opens up before you - a 750m-wide bay backed by the cliffs - and it deserves its Irish name. "Sas" means a trap with a noose, and if you get swept in here in bad weather you won't get out.

A place more hostile to human habitation would be hard to imagine, yet three families farmed on a flat piece of land at the base of the cliffs during the 19th century.

The last family only left the bay in 1910, when, reportedly, a local midwife fell to her death on her way down the cliffs to deliver a baby.

Retrace your steps to the marker at the edge of the cliff. From there continue west towards a little settlement on the lower slopes of Más an Tiompán. This is the deserted village of Arraglen, which once housed 13 families.

From here you can head back along the bog road to the car. Or you can keep on to the summit of Más an Tiompán. As you get higher and look back, the scale of An Sas becomes ever more apparent, and beyond you have a vast panorama that stretches from Kerry Head along the Slieve Mish Mountains and on to Brandon, while the great arc of Castlegregory beach stands out in the east.

Your slog up to the summit is rewarded with further views that stretch from Brandon Creek to the Three Sisters, with The Blasket Islands resting on the horizon.

The rest of the day is a doddle. Drop down from the summit to where the Dingle Way crosses the mountains and follow the well-marked track back to Arraglen village. And thence back to the car park.

This is a walk on which it is worth making an early start. I started at 10am, and thus did I celebrate the 40th anniversary of my first hillwalk, which was on Mount Snowdon, in Wales, on October 8th, 1968.

Sauce Creek, Co Kerry

Start and finishGrid reference 507 146.

How to get thereFrom Dingle: over the Conor Pass to Cloghane. From Tralee: N86, R560, R585 to Cloghane.

Distance and TimeShort route: three to four hours, 12km. Long route: five or six hours, 16.5km.

SuitabilityAn easy to moderate walk, and well marked. As always, map, compass, warm clothing, good boots and rain gear are essential and don't litter.

MapOrdnance Survey Ireland Discovery Series sheer 70.

Accommodation and refreshmentsThere is self-catering, guest house, BB, and hostel accommodation in the area.

Useful websites www.cloghane.com. www.mountbrandonhostel.com. Three local pubs do evening meals.