Maps spread on the table, fingers moving over contours, trying to find suitable hiking places. ‘Here’ we point out a promising place, ‘no, wait, this is outside the county, we cannot go there’ Yes, the place we initially chose was outside our reach during another lockdown. Welcome to the reality of planning outings in the pandemic times.
My favourite of all the mountains in Ireland are the Reeks in county Kerry. I could go there any time, because I love the scenery, the multitude of hikes and the trill of climbing the highest peak in Ireland. Carrauntoohil is only 1038 meters, but still it offers a long hike and, if you’re lucky with the weather, unparalleled view from the top. The atmosphere at the peak is somewhat special too, with loads of people taking photos, chatting to each other, exchanging experiences. But The Reeks are in Kerry and for most of 2020 it makes them out of our reach.
My choice for number two are the Galtees. They are relatively close to Cork, where we live, and offer a lot of steep climbs, what I absolutely love. Our favourite spot to start hiking in the Galtees is in Kings Yard. unfortunately again it is in Limerick, again out of our reach for most of 2020. For big part of this year we were exploring maps at home and…. local woods outside. But the time spent studying maps was not wasted…. The moment the lockdown was lifted we were ready for action. We were on the road heading for a new corner of the Galtees!
Small village of Angelsboro (Anglesborough) lies close to the the main Cork-Dublin road, with easy reach from the Rebels Capitol. The village is tiny, but very pleasant with a few facilities for visitors. There are two paths clearly market leading up to the hills through the farms and later through the forest.
There are two long walks leading through the area, the Paradise Hill Loop and the Bernard Loop. On our first visit we followed the Paradise Hill Loop, trail running its whole length. The path follows wide forest paths and goes steadily up, a perfect place for a nice trail run.
On our second visit we chose to take the same path but in reverse order. After a few kilometers we left the marked trail and went up the hillside towards a peak. We stopped for a quick lunch at the Pinnacle Shannaghaun Rock at 643meters, a well sheltered spot. Afterwards we continued towards Teampuillin (Temple Hill 783meters). We only spent a very short time there, it was so windy on this exposed part of the hill that we struggled to stay upright. It was enough time to get a glimpse of further peaks, all of them covered with snow, standing majestically at the front of a winter grey sky. So close, so tempting, so difficult to reach this time….
A few days later we were back in the area. This time we started from different spot (check the map at the end of the post) further down the road. This different starting point gave us an option of walking straight into the forest, no need to cover any minor roads, or climb steep ladders placed over farm fences which we would have when we started from the village. Perfect!
Initially we followed the Bernard Loop, but later on we got creative and started taking paths linking the official trail. Many of them were steep and rocky, but still great fun, very pretty as well, as there went through the denser parts of the forest.
The weather on the day was a mix of sunshine, rain and very strong wind. Luckily the trees offered good shelter from the wind. Some of the paths were bit overflowed, so decision to wear good waterproof boots added to the enjoyment.
Weather in Ireland and on the mountains tend to change very quickly. At the end of our hike there was sunshine again and on the last few kilometers we had a clear view of the surrounding countryside. And what a view! A mix of haze and sunshine creating a glorious vista. Nice end to a day of walking. The mix of views, fresh air and enjoyment of exploring unknown paths put us in a great mood. In a very high spirit we decided to come back again to get to know the place more, to discover more paths and more options for walking, running and biking. And I would like to encourage you to do the same. Have a quick look at the mini map and decide what starting point you take yourself? And please remember to let me know, how did you get on in this lovely part of Irish hills.
Map: we used Galtee 1:25 000 EastWest Maps
Parking: at both starting points there is space for few cars, but there’s more in the village itself than in the forest carpark.