In the heat of 2018’s glorious August sunshine, we took a ferry across to Dublin and embarked on a tour of Ireland’s biggest mountains. 1100 miles of driving later and we’d managed to summit the 37 highest mountains in just six days.
There was no real reason or big back story to this trip, other than neither of us had been to any of Ireland’s mountains and we simply wanted to make the absolute most of the week we had available to explore.
A reasonable amount of time was spent planning beforehand and we had a fairly tight schedule to complete every trail route we’d put together.
The Wicklow Mountains are just a short drive south of Dublin and featured the lowest group of summits we visited so it made good sense to tackle this area first as a warm up for what Ireland had to offer. Beautiful forests, lots of beautiful green everywhere and some easy but enjoyable hill walking made the Wicklows quite memorable.
Continuing south from the Wicklows we got our first taste of some mountains of a decent height and a bit more of a challenge. The 12 mile looped trail we’d planned took in six summits and some amazing views of Ireland.
Carrauntoohil & Macgillicuddy’s Reeks
The Wicklows and Galtees were beautiful, but this is where we felt we’d really arrived in Ireland’s mountains. Walking into Macgillicuddy’s Reeks for the first time reminded us of taking the Pyg track route to Snowdon back at home. Carrauntoohil is a staggeringly beautiful mountain, dominating the horseshoe despite the presence of it’s large neighbouring summits that all clock in over 900m tall.
The two highlights for us were Beenkeragh summit (1,010m) and The Bones ridge that links said summit with Carrauntoohil which provided some great scrambling fun and nice exposure. Our 11 mile trail route took in 10 of the biggest mountains in Ireland and provided us with the best views of the entire trip. This area is one we will definitely return to in the future to spend more time on each mountain.
Cruach Mhor (932m)
The Big Gun (939m)
Maolán Buí (973m)
Cnoc an Chuillinn East Top (926m)
Cnoc an Chuillinn (958m)
The Bones (ridge)
Knockbrinnea West (907m)
Knockbrinnea East (900m)
County Mayo is surely one of the most beautiful places on earth. We woke up here to this incredible light and cloud show on the mountains surrounding Lough Dan before heading for a 9.5 mile route around the area’s highest mountains. Everything about this area is stunning, and we even managed to sneak in a stop at beautiful Aasleagh Falls – a tourist hot spot but well worth a visit!
Ben Bury (795m)
Ben Lugmore West (790m)
Ben Lugmore (803m)
Ben Lugmore East (790m)
So for the final day of our tour of Ireland’s biggest mountains we took on the infamous Mourne Mountains challenge route, a 22 mile loop summiting 15 of the best peaks Northern Ireland has to offer.
What started out as pretty much a perfect day weather wise, morphed into some real tough wind, rain and severe white out cloud. Because we’d done our homework and learnt the trail well before going, we were able to navigate over half of the trail in these conditions, without a map, compass or GPS.
After a few miles of the Irish weather getting the better of our spirits, we ran the last 4 real hard and it was an incredibly rewarding feeling to get back to Carrick Little car park.
Rocky Mountain (576m)
Slieve Donard (850m)
Slieve Commedagh (810m)
Slieve Corragh (680m)
Slieve Beg (642m)
Cove Mountain (707m)
Slieve Binnian North Tor (722m)
Slieve Binnian Summit (770m)