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Pedlar’s Lake Trail

Conor Pass, Ireland

     Conor Pass, the highest mountain pass in Ireland and one of the highlights of the Dingle Peninsula, provides a dramatic and scenic way to enter or leave Dingle—this narrow, twisting road cuts through the lofty Brandon Mountains between Dingle Town and Kilmore Cross on the north side of the peninsula.

     Views from the road are breathtaking—glacially carved mountains, including Ireland’s second highest peak Mount Brandon (3,123 ft), and corrie lakes tinged black with granite and peat, spread out across the landscape as far as the eye can see.

     The dramatic landscape of Conor Pass, also known as Conor Hill Road, beckons to the hiker imprisoned in the confines of a car—when you hear the call, don’t fight the urge to park the car and set off on foot, several walking paths allow the adventurous to explore the Irish countryside. One such path, located just north of Conor Pass, can be accessed by parking in the cramped car park adjacent to the small waterfall clearly seen from the road—the cascade, fed by a stream running from Pedlar’s Lake to the Owenmore Valley, tumbles over a ridge of rock just feet from the road.

     The waterfall attracts shutterbugs that capture one or two shots and then hop back in their car, but to the trained eye, it is obvious that an unseen lake exists above the rocky ridge from which the falls plummet—to access the shores of the lake, begin climbing the granite slabs that angle up from the road to the ridge. As you hike, mind your footfall—only 10,000 years have passed since the last ice melted here, and evidence of alpine glaciations and vegetation are everywhere. Classic U-shaped valleys, such as Glenahoo, and micro-striations on the corrie walls surrounding the lake are clear signs that a glacier masterminded the scenery laid out before you—breathtaking peaks and a crystal-clear lake remain just out of sight.

     Continue climbing the unmarked path, choosing the route as you go, until you gain the top of the ridge—Pedlar’s Lake, a corrie or glacial lake, is now visible surrounded by huge glacial erratics and towering rocky peaks. You can now explore the small loch at leisure, noting the unique vegetation and lichen covered granite slabs that color the terrain—when you return to the car, watch for an interesting erratic that has been split in two by the forces of nature.

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