Crosshaven man David Murtagh recently undertook a 16.77km hike around the Reeks, taking in Carrauntoohil, enjoying the snow capped mountains and taking in views spanning the Kerry Coast from the Dingle Peninsula to Kenmare Bay. David kindly documented his hike for The Carrigdhoun.
New Year, New View
Writes David Murtagh
You must leave Crosshaven at 7am to be in Cronin’s Yard and all geared up for a 9am start. That’s assuming you break your trip on arrival to Killarney to pick up a sandwich for later on. Turn left after Fossa and continue towards the views until you happen across the famed farmyard car park and café.
Monday, 2nd January dawned with the outdoors in mind and could not have been more perfect a day to be in one of Ireland’s most scenic areas. It was bright and clear and boasted amazing views of a snow topped Carrauntoohil from start to finish with a crisp cold that would keep you cool while you moved and your jacket well zipped up.
Today a climbing duo, we strayed from the path early and onto the frozen mountainside beyond the Hag’s Glen toward the spine of Maolán Buí called The Bone. Given the icy conditions that developed overnight and would linger throughout the day, this ascent turned out to be one of the least tricky routes to the top. Its terrain is rocky and boulder laden and offers foot holes in abundance. 963m up the 973m high mountain the sun first spilled over the top from the east and ushered us out of the shade. From here we got views from Killarney to Kenmare Bay, in less than 2 hours walk from Cronin’s Yard.
With the majority of height gained it is a fast walk across the ridge past Cnoc an Chuillinn (926m), the Zig Zags and Cnoc an Toinne (845m) to the top of the Devil’s Ladder and further on, the Heavenly Gates. It was at this intersection that we encountered the other bank holiday walkers and made our way in the snow to the top of Carrauntoohil (1039m).
The view from Carrauntoohil’s cross is spectacular on a normal day but the sun shining on the snow on Monday made it even more of a pleasure. We took the obligatory photo but did not hang around. There was a wind that would whip the camera from your hand and a freeze that would numb your fingers such that they were powerless to catch it.
Beenkeragh Ridge joins Ireland’s 2 highest mountains together. It is a narrow and exposed ridge and can be daunting to cross in extreme weather conditions like thick ice or gales. Monday did not quite warrant crampons or ice axe but did require a sure footing and careful concentration with each step as we made our way off Carrauntoohil, past the top of O’Shea’s Gully, across the ridge and up to the summit of Beenkeragh (1010m). It is on this side of the range that we were treated to views of Inch Beach and the Dingle Peninsula some 25kms (and more) away. The same view features entirely as you begin the long descent from here to Cronin’s Yard.
The route that has been described is 16.77km in distance and covers the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 8th highest mountains in Ireland. It took us just under 6 and a quarter hours to complete moving at a quick pace and without stop. Ireland’s mountains are stunning. There are thousands of routes between here and the rest of the country of varying difficulty and type. Always give consideration to weather conditions and forecast as well as route knowledge and the group’s experience. And enjoy.
About me. From Crosshaven, I was brought up enjoying the mountains of Ireland and Wales; learning the skills and encountering the conditions from a young and influential age. More recently I have been fortunate to travel and experience an array of different scenes. Since returning I have switched a lot of my efforts to rock climbing but, having said that, the lure of a day spent hiking is hard to ignore!