As we steadily make our way up to the Conor Pass the lanes are narrow and allow little room for error. As we drive higher and higher into the pass, where once there were fields to our left, now only jagged mountain sides fill the passenger window.
‘Slow down a bit’ says the gf sitting next to me, its far from the worst piece of advice she has ever given. This is not a place for unnecessary speed. Slow and steady will win this race … not that it’s a race.
We survive the journey with few other cars coming down the road from the other direction, which is a blessing, and those that do are considerate and safe enough to pull over where the road is widest and wait for us to pass. We wind and climb up to the crest of the Conor Pass, the highest pass in Ireland, an impressive 410 m above the sea level, and then this …
The Conor Pass –>Wow!
Would you just look at that. Stunning!
Located on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, driving Conor’s Pass is not to be missed if you are travelling around Kerry and have your own wheels (or at least access to some). For 1, its free (with the obvious exception of petrol costs), and free is always a good price right? Also, on a clear day the views from the viewing ‘platform’ are both dramatic and spectacular, with visitors being able to see as far as the Aran Islands in county Galway on occasion.
Whilst the drive up to the Conor Pass viewing platform (its a car park really) from Dingle is a bit hairy in places, time wise it only takes around 15-20 minutes depending on traffic. Once parked up, there are a couple of nice information boards to read your way through, but other than that facilities are at a minimum, but in truth little else is needed. There was a ice cream van on the day we chose to drive up, but I’m not so sure its a permanent fixture. I think we were just lucky with it being there and offering huge great cones for our devouring.
By driving the entire length of Conor Pass, you’ll effectively cross the Dingle Penisula, from Dingle Town itself over towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory. The mountains which Conor Pass passes through are actually called the Brandon Mountains, named after Saint Brendan, and contain Ireland’s second highest peak Mount Brandon at 3127 ft.
These mountains are famous for their hiking trails, and for the nutters/fitness fanatics among you, there is even a marathon and half marathon race series which runs (no pun intended) through the mountain range. If you need some sports or hiking gear, we recommend to checks the Altitude Sports website.
I don’t mean to scare you, but the drive down from the car park viewing station towards Brandon Bay is potentially even more scary than the drive up from Dingle Town. Here the road becomes a single lane, and whereas on the way up there was land either side of the road, now there is only mountain side outside the drivers window, and a huge great cliff edge on the passengers side. However, so long as you’re comfortable behind the wheel, and sensible in looking further ahead for cars coming from the other direction, you shouldn’t have any trouble. As reward for your efforts, once the road becomes wide enough for two lanes, there is a little stop off point where you can park up and take in a lovely little waterfall. From then on its plane sailing … well driving, but you know what I mean.
Due to the nature of the road, there are length and weight restrictions, and vehicles such as caravans, camper vans and trucks cannot use the pass.