Stone arrow pointing down at the top of the ascent at Cnoc Toinne. Please note that this arrow has since been removed.
Lugnaquilla - 925m (from Glenmalure Valley), Co. Wicklow
Wicklow's highest mountain and the finish line for the Lug Run is Wicklow's only munro. The starting point from Glenmalure is just off the Military Road coming from Laragh. Park in a lay by opposite a farmhouse which has a 3k track at the start of the walk. This track zig-zags steeply up for 35 minutes where you turn off to the right and cross a stile. Keeping to a faint track head towards the rockface and pick up a more defined trail meandering through the rock and bog. Gaining height quickly, the airy view to the coom takes up horizon to the right and is a good photo opportunity in good weather with views extending into the Glenmalure Valley. Keep on along meandering peat trails which often criss cross one another leading up to the summit of Clohernagh (808m 1 hour 45 minutes from the car park.) Cloud is quite prevelant on this summit so make sure your compass is handy. Head out right (west) across the windswept plateau. There is a small trail here and you are sure to meet others on a fine day. Bear left around the south prison keeping well back from the edge and continue on to the summit cairn (931m 2 hours 30 minutes.) The trig point was brought up by Scouts and has all the major nearby peaks on it. Views extend all over Wicklow and beyond on a clear day. On returning, follow the same route and this will bring you back to the car park in 2 hours 30 minutes. Please note that this mountain is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the country due to low cloud, poor navigation and severe gales. If you're not comfortable using a map and compass don't attempt it on your own. A plateau is not the place to learn map work and Wicklow Mountain Rescue will not be amused when they come to rescue you.
Duration 5 - 6 Hours
Carrauntuohill - 1039m, Co. Kerry
The highest mountain in Ireland and one of only three mountains higher than 1k, Carrauntuohill is a magnet for hillwalkers. Situated on a fault line, it is surrounded by an assortment of munros, all equally impressive if not as high. Carrauntuohil itself is accessed by climbing a neighbouring mountain which prolongs the walk. But which route? Your ability, stamina, experience and the weather will decide this for you. There are as many routes as you can think up ascending Carrauntoohil so I have listed some of the more popular ones below including the summits climbed along the way.
Summit Time: 3 Hours 15 minutes
Carrauntuohill from Cronin's Yard car park.
Beenkeragh - 1010m, Co. Kerry
Better known for its ridge adjoining Carrauntuohill, Ireland's second highest point is approachable from Cronin's Yard and from the Hydro Route.
Summit Time: 2 Hours 20 minutes
Caher - 1001m, Co. Kerry
Ireland's third highest mountain at 1001m, Caher is a tough mountain in it's own right. Accessed by the Hydro Path or by Lough Acoose, Caher has three summits which lead on to the conecting ridge to Carrauntuohil above the Black Mare.
Summit Time: 2 Hours 45 minutes
Beenkeragh Ridge from Carrauntuohill summit
Cnoc Toinne 850m via Bothar na Gige (Zig Zags), Co. Kerry
Considered a safe route up to Carrauntuohil, the Zig Zags are both a handy route up and an even handier escape route down. Starting out from Cronin's Yard, take the gravel track into the Hag's Glen crossing two bridges near the start. Cross the river once more by stepping stones and crest a small incline (1 Hour from car park.) Clamber up a steep outcrop on the left just pass the lake to a grassy ledge. Off towards the left, the Zig Zags commence their inexorable steep climb towards the summit of Cnoc Toinne (50 minutes.) Follow the boggy track down to the col above the Devil's Ladder at the base of Carrauntuohil and proceed up the switch backs. Footing can be tricky underfoot due to the loose scree so care is advised. The gradient eases mercifully just below the summit by which time the summit cross comes into view (1 Hour 15 minutes.) If you're lucky, views will extend across the Macgillycuddy Reeks, Dngle Bay and Killarney.
Summit Time: 2 Hours 15 minutes
Route up Bothar na Gige towards the summit of Cnoc Toinne
Carrauntuohill via O' Shea's Gully, Co. Kerry
Another popuar route starting from Cronin's Yard, O' Shea's is a steep climb up a gulley in between Carrauntuohil and Beenkeragh. Approach by the Hag's Glen and keep to the right of the river approaching the mountain just after the Hag's Tooth. The mountain is divided into three seperate sections.
Carrauntuohill via The Devil's Ladder, Co. Kerry
Easily the most used and direct route to Carrauntuohil's summit the ladder's appeal continues to attract the masses. Situated at the foot of a col betweeen Carrauntuohil and Cnoc Toinne, it is a steep gulley which can be tricky in wet weather. Approached by the track leaving Cronin's Yard (1 hour 15 minutes,) the Devil's Ladder can be relatively straightforward scramble/steep walk depending on the numbers and conditions. Allow 30 - 45 minutes to scramble up paying attention to your feet placing so as not to dislodge any rocks onto the walkers below. Once at the col, the summit rises to the right and is a straightforward 45 minute slog up the zig zags.
Summit Time: 2 Hours 45 minutes
Purple Mountain 832m, Co. Kerry
A demanding alternative to the Eastern Reeks, Purple demands respect and a calculated approach. The most popular route is to park at either Kate Kearney's Cottage and hike the Gap of Dunloe as part of a circuit or to drive up to the Head of the Gap and park there for an and up and down trek along the same route. The walk to the Head takes 40 minutes but do be aware of oncoming motoe and equine traffic as this road is quite narrow in places. At the Head you can gaze down into the Black Valley before taking a narrow trail to your left to gain the shoulder of Purple. Keep a small stream to your right before reaching a small plateau by Lough Glas (45 minutes.) Follow the lake around to the right before heading up a near vertical staircase of rock before veering to the left and scrambling up the loose scree to the double summit of Purple (1 hour 40 minutes.) Views of the Eastern Reeks dominate and on a clear day, Brandon and Dingle Bay can be seen as well as the lakes at Killarney. To complete the circuit, follow the wide ridge down and on to Tomies ( 757m & 735m 40 minutes) before descending through hip high heather. Pay attention to your footing as the trail disappears and reappears quite frequently. Drop down to a track which leads to the road where a left turn will bring you back to Kate Kearneys for a well deserved pint!
Summit time: 3.5 hours
The top of the Devil's Ladder, Caher (Left), Carrauntuohill (Centre) and Beenkeragh (Right) from Cnoc Toinne.