The most popular hike in Ireland is climb up to the top of Carrantuohill. This is the highest peak in Ireland and this is the reason for its popularity. Let’s be honest, who is not attracted to an idea of climbing the highest peak? I am and The Reeks and Carrantuohill are my favourite place for hiking. Despite this I often like to hike in other mountains, mostly in the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees. They are both well worth visiting and exploring their paths. Let’s start with Galtee Mountains.
Galtees are a 30 kms long range in south part of Ireland, running east -west between Limerick and Tipperary counties. The highest peak is Galtymore at 918m. There are many smaller peaks in the range, which can be climbed in variation of circular routes.
The most popular route from the north starts at the forest carpark near Clydagh Bridge and follows a signposted path towards Cush (641m). From this peak the route leads to Galtybeg (779m) and Galtymore, marked with a white cross on the top. Next peak is Slievecushnabinnia (775m), with a path following a stony wall and later to a ridge going down. The route finally reaches the forest again and goes down to the starting point. This route can be done anticlockwise too. This is a nice 12 KM hike with a few steep climbs and an easy to follow path (only in good weather though, always have map and compass with you). A variation of this route can be a walk to the Lough Curra, a picturesque lake at the bottom of Galtymore, with scramble up the steep gully behind it.
Another popular option is walking from the Black Road carpark. We did this route many years ago. It is shorter than the above one and takes in less peaks. It seems to be very popular with hillwalkers.
Our newest project is exploring the range from Kings Yard, south part of Galtees, in a valley parallel to the Black Road. So, a fortnight ago we packed our hiking and camping gear and drove to the Galtees. Our hike started at Kings Yard, south part of the range. There is a paid carpark with toilets and a basic kitchen for hikers available here. A camping site is just outside the yard with unobstructed views of the mountains. I must say the camping spot was so beautiful, I had doubts about pitching our tent anywhere else.
We followed the path starting at the farm and quickly, we were up in the hills. Our initial plan was to camp on the top of Galtymore, but as we were approaching the peak, a big cloud covered the place. We decided instead to camp on a small meadow few hundred meters from the top. This turned out to be the right decision.
The following morning we woke up to a beautiful day. There were still clouds covering the lower parts of the mountains, but we were above them and in full sun. The views were spectacular! This was the moment worth all the hardship of caring heavy gear up the hills.
Before breakfast we walked to the top of Galtymore, where to our surprise, there were already hillwalkers! This early in the morning! Not camping on top suddenly turned out to be a good decision. After few minutes of wandering around and chatting to the people we walked back to our camp. Time for breakfast and few cups of black tea.
After our breakfast we started walking. Initially we followed the wall climbing towards Slievecushnabinnia, next was Cornabinnia and then we started looking for a way to descend back to the valley.
As we were walking down we saw a sheep stuck in the bog. It was by pure chance we spotted her, if we chose to walk few meters further she probably would stay there forever. We dragged her out of the trap. We looked at her, not to sure what to do next. Luckily we were spotted by another group of hikers, who definitely knew about sheep first-aid. They put the sheep on her four legs and held the animal upright until she could stand up on her own. Good to know for future.
We continued to walk down the hill until we came to a small bridge, where we crossed the stream and followed a path back to Kings Yard. The whole loop was around 12km with a bit of climbing and a lot of scenery. Nice, medium walk, very doable with a lot to see.
- start and finish of the walk Kings Yard, paid secure parking 3euro per car, very clean toilets, shower, very basic kitchen, camping 5euro per person (October 2020)
- map used: Galtee 1:25000, 25series eastwestmapping.ie
- camping gear and practicalities click here