DINGLE ALL THE WAY; Gorgeous scenery, fascinating history and a lively town with fab pubs and food make a trip to west coast of Ireland a delight.
FIRST of all, let's settle the friendly argument our terrific guides, Fiona and Antoinette, had over the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way, this amazing touring route on the west coast of Ireland.
In the interests of diplomacy, we will agree it neither begins nor ends anywhere, it simply stretches from Donegal to Cork.
However, there can be no argument over the spectacular beauty of the stunning part of this 1500-mile route which I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in.
deals November in staying We based our trip in the Dingle peninsula and stayed in the lovely Benners Hotel in the centre of Dingle.
Canaria board This three-star hotel is ideally placed in this lovely town and the smart and comfortable rooms are great. There's free wi-fi and you are only a few minutes' walk from the harbour.
nine threestar self 319pp.
When I first mentioned I was going to Dingle, my friends insisted I see Fungie the Dingle dolphin, who has been nights fourstar swimming in the harbour since 1984.
So we decided to take the Dolphin Boat Tour, which proved to be interesting and fun.
or One of the crewmen from Dingle Bay Charters acted as our historical guide and told us about the various buildings and landmarks as well as battles that had taken place in this fascinating piece of Ireland.
The scenery on the sail out to the mouth of the harbour is stunning and should not be missed.
But the main attraction, Fungie, stole the show, swimming alongside our boat for 20 minutes.
He is not the only reason to visit Dingle, though. It is worth spending some time in this lively town, with its great nightlife and large selection of bars.
The live music and atmosphere in many of them made for a great evening and the variety of the shops - selling everything from the famous Murphy's ice cream to great local produce, cheeses, bread and some high quality art and craft work - will certainly hold your interest during the day.
I have always found you never have to go far in Ireland to find a high standard of restaurant, though my visit to the Global Village in Dingle really brought home how gorgeous some of them can be.
A Michelin recommended place, owner and chef Martin Bealin can be proud of this warm and welcoming restaurant.
Our group's first night was spent here. We chose the sample tasting menu, which was a terrific choice.
We got to taste some of the finest produce this peninsula is renowned for. Everything from crab, scallops, turbot and lamb were splendidly presented and, more importantly, delicious. I really cannot praise it enough.
Outwith this bustling town, we encountered some of the most magnificent scenery on a variety of drives.
The spectacular Conor Pass - Ireland's highest mountain pass - and the Slea Head provided us with enough breathtaking sights to keep all our party open-mouthed at each turn. This is one amazing, continual vista of rugged and beautiful coastal land.
We stopped mid route to try our hand at creating our own pottery at the Louis Mulcahy Pottery Workshop and Cafe. This was tremendous fun as we all created our own small pots with the help of the experts.
The workshop even provides a service where they will post your finished and glazed piece of pottery on to you for a small fee.
Our efforts provided many laughs as we all had varying degrees of success. One American couple even reenacted the famous scene from the film Ghost - although I got the impression from our expert's smile that it had been done many times before.
This all provided a pleasant break during our drive and we had an excellent lunch in the cafe too.
The Dingle peninsula is also home to the Blasket Island Centre - a heritage centre honouring the unique community of islanders that were evacuated from the islands in 1953.
The captivating story of their struggle for existence is told using interactive displays.
It was also heartwarming to see an exhibit detailing the similar fate suffered by our own Scottish islanders of St Kilda. The Dingle peninsula and the islands which stretch into the Atlantic were once described by National Georgraphic as "the most beautiful place on Earth".
It really is hard to argue with that description.
But there is also a sense of true pride from the people and their determination to hold on to their culture and promote their beautiful county that makes you feel very aware you are visiting a really unique part of the world.
Latedeals | Flying from Glasgow on November 22 and 29, four nights in Prague, staying at the four-star Hotel Roma, B&B from PS215pp.
| Flying from Glasgow on December 5, seven nights in the Algarve, staying at the four-star Eden Resort, all inclusive from PS359pp.
| Flying from Glasgow on December 7, seven nights in Madeira, staying at the four-star Enotel Quinta do Sol (Adults only), half board from PS395pp.
| Visit your nearest Stewart Travel store or call 0800 091 2757.
Latedeals | Flying from Glasgow on November 30, seven nights in Gran Canaria, staying at the four-star Sentido Gran Canaria Princess, half board from PS359pp. | Flying from Edinburgh on December 3, nine nights in Tenerife, staying at the threestar Neptuno Apartments, self catering from PS319pp. | Flying from Edinburgh on December 5, 14 nights in Fuerteventura, staying at the fourstar Hotel Atlantis, all inclusive from PS589pp.
| Visit www.holidayandflightcentre.com or call 01698425444.
Facts |Brian visited courtesy of Failte Ireland, and flew to Dublin with Ryanair, flights from PS50 return. Visit www.failteireland.ie and www.ryanair.com | He stayed at the fantastic Benners Hotel. Double rooms are from PS77 per night. Visit www.dinglebenners.com. | For more information on Dingle Bay Charters, visit www.dinglebaycharters.com; Blasket Islands Centre (www.heritageireland.ie/en/blascaod) and the Global Village restaurant (www.globalvillagedingle.com).
Latedeals | Flying from Edinburgh on February 7, three nights in Copenhagen, staying at the four-star Neptun Hotel, B&B from PS197pp.
| Flying from Glasgow on February 24, seven nights in Fuerteventura, staying at the threestar Dunas Caleta Club, all Inclusive from PS317pp.
| Flying from Glasgow on February 16, seven nights in Benidorm, staying at the four-star Flamingo Oasis Hotel, all Inclusive from PS367pp. |For more info, visit www.barrheadtravel.co.uk or call 0141 222 2223
REEL FUN Youngster on boat trip with her catch of the day LOTS TO SEA Tourists on one of the peninsula's tour boats
HIGH AND MIGHTY The coastline is both rugged and spectacular
BAY WATCH You can try to catch a glimpse of Fungie in Dingle harbour