Mountain climbing/hill walking have become very popular pastimes in Ireland in recent years. With 14 peaks in excess of 3000ft and a large number more over 2500ft Ireland has a wealth of moderate to challenging climbs to offer with magnificent views

Black Head in The Burren in county Clare

Black Head Walk (July 2010)

This beautiful mountain coastal walk which starts at Black Head (between Fanore and Ballyvaughan villages) near the lighthouse takes you across the the mountains of Carnsefin (317m), Gleninagh (317m) and Cappanawalla (312m) and offers magnificent views of The Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Ballyvaughan bay and village and the surrounding countryside. Parking at times can be a little difficult to find but there are a number of wide spots along the road where it is safe to leave your car.
Being in the heart of The Burren the landscape is barren limestone rock for most of the walk and is a very unique area alive with beautiful plants and flowers during the Spring, Summer and Autumn. Caher Dun Irghuis stone fort is another of the walks highlights as are the numerous stone walls which which run across the landscape. Its a moderately difficult walk and takes in the region of four hours to complete

The Lough Inagh Valley in Connemara, county Galway

The Lough Inagh Valley (June 2010)

The Lough Inagh Valley area is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most spectacular beauty spots. The beautiful valley is centred between The Twelve Bens mountain range on one side and the Maamturk mountains on the other and is located about 20 miles north of Oughterard town on the road to Kylemore Abbey. The attached photo was taken from Benadolug in The Maamturks last Saturday (June 12 2010). It was a steep fairly tough climb but the magnificent views made it well worth while

Killary Harbour (Killary harbor) view on a summers day

Killary Harbour (June 2010)

Killary Harbour is undoubtedly one of Irelands best know beauty spots. The harbour also know as Killary fjord forms a partial border between counties Galway and Mayo and stretches for 16km to and slightly beyond the beautiful village of Leenaun. Last Sunday (June 6th) I took a drive to Leenaun with the intention of getting an aerial looking photograph of the fjord. I parked about 0.5 miles outside the village alongside the road to Kylemore and climbed an unnamed mountain overlooking to harbour the right of the Laghtyfahaghaun river. It was a steep but relatively short ascent along somewhat rough terrain (about 500m). Spectacular would be a mild word in describing the views from the summit. In glorious summer sunshine the full length of the harbour (16km) was clearly visible right out past Mweelrea mountains where it joins the Atlantic ocean 

Killary Harbor view on the Galway/Mayo border

 View from Slieve Carran in The Burren National Park in county Clare

Slieve Carran (April 2010)

Located in the north east corner of The Burren (north of Carron village) this beautiful mountain rises to 327 meters and dominates the surrounding landscape in what is now a protected nature reserve and part of the Burren National Park. The very distinctive cliff face of the mountain is know as Eagles Rock deriving its name from being a nesting place for eagles a long time ago. Like most of The Burren the area is very rich in flora and fauna with Arctic and Mediterranean plants side by side. There is the ruins of a historic church a holy well and a a fulach fia (ancient cooking place) on the eastern side of the mountain. Its a relatively short climb but the views from the summit are nothing short of magnificent. I climbed it for the first time on the 26th of April 2010. It was a glorious sunny day and I can honestly say that the views equal or exceed those from mountains several times higher.

The Derryclare Horseshoe walk in the Lough Inagh Valley in Connemara, county Galway

Derryclare Horseshoe (March 2010)

This magnificent and challenging walk in the Twelve Bens mountain range in The Lough Inagh Valley reveals the rugged beauty of Connemara in all is splendor. The 6-7 hour horseshoe climb encompasses a number of peaks including Ben Lettery (516m), Glengower (664m), Benbreen (691m), Bencorr (711m) and Derryclare (650m).
Last Sunday (21 March, 2010) I completed this highly enjoyable climb with the Clare Outdoor Club. The initial part of the climb is along a gravel road through forested land for about 20 minutes after which the rocky steep ascent towards Ben Lettery commences. This part of the walk involves some scrambling which adds to the sense of achievement upon reaching the summit.  As this point the landscape opens up on all sides with wonderful views of lakes, valleys, coastline and other mountain peaks on all sides. Mweelrea (Connaught’s highest mountain) is clearly visible. The Lough Inagh Valley needs to be viewed from here to appreciate its true beauty.
The beautiful rocky terrain continues for the remainder of the climb towards Derryclare. The peaks of Glengower, Benbreen and Bencorr and the scenic valleys between them all offer great opportunities for photos and breathtaking views.
The descent from Derryclare is quite slippery and boggy in places and walking poles come in very useful. We stopped in The Forge restaurant in Moycullen on route back to Ennis for a tasty and well earned dinner. In all a highly enjoyable day

The Derryclare Horseshoe walk in the Lough Inagh Valley in Connemara, county Galway

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The Coomloughra Horseshoe walk in the Macgillycuddys Reeks mountain range in county Kerry

Coomloughra Horseshoe (March 2010)

This magnificent walk has it all, beautiful scenery, breathtaking views, a strenuous workout, in addition to a wonderful sense of achievement upon completion. The circuit around Coomloughra takes 6-7 hours to complete and takes you to the summit of Ireland's 3 highest peaks, Carrauntoohil (1039m) Beenkeragh (1010m) and Caher (1001m). In addition it involves crossing the spectacular knife edged ridge (Beenkeragh ridge) which links Carrauntoohil and Beenkeragh. The views from the ridge are second to none and the thrill of crossing it is something I would never get tired of. However a word of warning; it is definitely not for people of a nervous disposition or for those with a bad fear of heights. Crossing it alone or without the guidance of experienced climbers is also not recommended
I completed the circuit last Sunday (March 7) with the Clare Outdoor Club who are based in Ennis. They are a great bunch of people with an infectious enthusiasm for the outdoors. To reap the full benefits of this and many other superb walks I would highly recommend joining an outdoor club.
Normally the circuit of Coomloughra is completed in the order of Beenkeragh first, then across the ridge to Carrauntoohil, the over to Caher and down. Due to the freezing weather last Sunday and the unknown condition of the ridge the leaders on the climb decided that it would be better to do the walk in reverse order ie Caher first, then Carrauntoohil and then across the ridge to Beenkeragh (providing it being deemed to be cross-able upon reaching Carrauntoohil summit). This way even if the ridge was in a treacherous condition we still had reached the summits of Caher and Carrauntoohil whereas if we had climbed Beenkeragh first we would only have one peak completed.
Luckily the ridge was deemed as cross-able. At this point we split into two groups; a choice been given of descending via Caher or crossing the ridge and descending via Beenkeragh. I joined the Beenkeragh group. Crossing the snow covered icy ridge was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Its rugged beauty, the valleys and lakes on either side and the views looking back on Carrauntoohil and forward towards Beenkeragh are images that will stay with me forever. Upon reaching Beenkeragh summit we began the long but enjoyable descent back to our cars where we met our colleagues who had descended via Caher
This was my third time completing this walk and I must say the most enjoyable of the three. It was a crystal clear day with great opportunities for photos 

Climbing Carrauntoohil, Irelands highest mountain in county Kerry

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Mangerton mountain in winter, county Kerry
Mangerton on New Years Day 2010

Mangerton looked majestic on New Years day being covered with a heavier blanket of snow and ice than had been seen in over 30 years. On a beautiful clear day the temperature and the base of the mountain was -5 degrees celsius at 10 am when we commenced our climb. My friend and I had quite a struggle but made it to the summit eventually. Conditions were extremely slippery with thick layers of very hard ice but the views made it all worth while. In glorious winter sunshine the Devils punchbowl corrie lake, The Horses Glen and the Reeks mountain range all looked magnificent.

View of the Horses Glen Valley from near the summit of Mangerton

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