Ultimate High Peaks Challenge Lite route description
Sign in and final registration will be at Cronin’s Yard on both Friday evening and for a very limited time on the Saturday Morning.
Total distance travelled: 15 kilometres. Total height gain: 1500 metres.
Arguably one of the very finest treks in the whole of Ireland, the route ticks off a total of SIX of the very highest mountains in the country, all over 3000ft with a total height gain of 1500mtrs. This walk truly provides you with what the magnificent MacGillycuddy’s Reeks has to offer in terms of awe-inspiring breath-taking views, thrills and hugely exciting challenges and a logical impressive introduction to the epic Ultimate High Peaks Challenge.
The majestic shapely peaks of the Eastern Reeks form an impressive jagged mountain vista and are named as such as they stretch along the Eastern side of the stunning Hags Glen/Com Caillí. They consist of 5 of the country’s highest peaks, all over 900mtrs and lined with impressive cliffs and high hidden coums and lakes. This spectacular chain of rugged peaks affords truly breath-taking views of all the Reeks and into the beautiful Coimín Dubh – “The Black Valley” to the South East.
Approach: From Cronin’s Yard follow the track which leaves the Yard through a metal gate by a sign on the wall which points the way to Carrauntoohil. There are two further metal gates soon after, one with a swinging metal gate on the right. The track passes by some small grazing fields on the right and after a few twists and turns soon opens out with a large conifer plantation on its left. The rocky trail leads to two green metal bridges. Cross both these and follow the main trail in the wondorous Hags Glen/Com Caillí for approximately 2.5km passing through another gate half way up the Glen and continuing as far as the stepping stones which cross the Gaddach river. Continue to follow the well-worn trail on the opposite side of the river for approx. 200metres until it begins to turn to the right and from here leave the trail to the left heading now for where the low waters flow from the rocky strewn exit from the northern tip of Loch Caillí at (GR 82032 84991 – Lat 52°00459N / Long 9°71891W
Taking great care to keep the feet and boots dry, cross here and soon begin to climb up the prominent rocky spine of “The Bone” steeping and becoming more defined & boulder strewn as height is gained. Keep an eye out for an intermittent series of rusted metal posts fixed into the rock and evidence of a one time and long forgotten fence. Continue to ascend the centre of the ridge line in south easterly direction. The route is well defined, though on the flatter sections there are of course choices of which boulders to tackle and whether to scramble over or around these.
Arrive at your very 1st check point on the summit of Ireland’s 5th highest peak – of Maolán Buí 973mtrs – (GR 831 838) – Lat 51°59.677N / Long 9°42.057W
The views from the top are extremely panoramic, weather permitting of course!!! It is magical to look across the glen and soak in the majesty of Carrauntoohil standing proud to the west and our impressive route strung out in the far distance ahead. The slope drops away sharply to the west into a small coum lake with crystal clear water. The conditions underfoot are decent, but it is essential in bad visibility to be ultra-cautious as there are dangerous slopes to the west, south east and north.
Continue south west leading you onto your next objective – Cnoc an Chuillin 958mtrs – (GR 823 833) – Lat 51°59.408N / Long 9°42.812W before dropping steeply and then climbing again to the grassy summit of Cnoc Toinne 845mtrs – (GR 815 835) – Lat 51°59.500N / Long 9°43.568W
Continue West again from here to the Western flat summit of Toinne at (GR 811 833). Before commencing your descent down the narrow shoulder leading you towards the top of be Devils Ladder, be sure to check in at another cut-off/check point. Cut off time for here is 14:30.
From Cnoc Toinne you now swing to the North West down a boggy shoulder to end at the eroded col at the top of the Devil’s Ladder. From here begin the tedious slog up the well-trodden track to the summit of Ireland’s Highest, Corrán Tuathail 1039mtrs – (GR 803 844) – Lat 51°59.964N / Long 9°44.568W. Check point/cut-off point. Cut-off time is 16:00.
Congratulations and well done, a truly fantastic achievement already!!!
After resting on the highest point in the land and posing for the obligatory photograph, a marshal will direct you on your way toward your next objective – Ireland’s 2nd highest Mountain – Binn Chaorach (BeenKeragh) 1010mtrs – (GR 801 852) – Lat 52°00.408N / Long 9°44.790W and accessible from this side only by traversing yet another phenomenal arete, the iconic “Beenkeragh Ridge”.
The peak of Beenkeragh is situated to the North and the initial descent to the connecting ridge is very steep and so you will need to exercise great caution. After approx 70mtrs of steep descent and traverse the ridge levels off for a short section at an obvious worn notch being the exit of Brother O’Sheas gully. This spot provides sensational views far North to Dingle bay and East to the lofty peak of Cathair/Caher, the countries 3rd highest. Looking to the West you can see the beautiful Loch Leane and looking down the steep gully on your right to the stunning high mountain Lake of Coimín Uachtarach nestled far below. Another wonderful view is out across the beautiful Hags Glen to our earlier peaks of the day of the Eastern Reeks. How far you have come – WELL DONE!!!
Killarneys Ultimate High Peaks Challenge marshals will be positioned along this ridge section.
Climb, scramble and inch your way along the jagged ridge until reaching the next check point on the small cairned summit of Beenkeragh (Binn Chaorach – meaning the peak of sheep). This airy peak is the 2nd tallest mountain in the whole of Ireland and stands at a lofty 1010mtrs.
On the more difficult sections of the ridge look out for the path lower down from the crest. This well-worn narrow track switches back and forth from the left and right side of the ridge and is recommended in windy conditions. If the winds are light you have the choice of how difficult a scramble you may wish to pursue. The more adventurous of you will want to follow the ridge crest all the way, whilst the walkers may want to avoid the excitement of the exposed areas. The rocky high point of this ridge section is known locally as “The Bones” and stands at an impressive elevation of 959mtrs high. The final ascent before reaching Binn Chaorachs rocky summit is a clamber up a large and extremely loose boulder field so once again great care required.
You will now begin the long descent North East to the finishing line at Cronin’s Yard via the summit of Knockbrinnea 854mtrs – (GR 807 858) Lat 52°00.727N / Long 9°44.235 , the last and final peak of the entire Ultimate High Peaks Challenge !!!
The route from Beenkeragh to Knockbrinnea is relatively steep, rocky to begin with and over a worn track of sorts then grassy with little or no path and through dense bracken and heather.
En route, in the col marked on the map as Glóras you may pick out a distinctive rock feature known as “Airplane Rock”. Descending from Knockbrinnea be very careful in bad visibility to avoid the ridge that drops off to the East. This leads to precipitous and extremely steep cliffs known as the Hag’s Teeth and needs to be avoided. Instead head North East, aiming for the parking area of Lisleibane before veering East and picking up the junction of the track. The right fork of this leads to the metal bridge over the river Gaddagh and then shortly on to the final check point at the finishing line in Cronin’s Yard.
Well done, you’ve made it..!!!
Congratulations and a fantastic well done to you on completing the 2019 “Ultimate High Peaks Challenge – Lite”…
Over this exciting and hugely impressive day of High Peaks Adventures you have trekked, scrambled and climbed over 15km, ascended a total of over 1500 metres, ticked off many of the very highest peaks in the entire country, journeyed through wild rugged scenery and burnt an untold amount of calories!!!
Now after a welcome refreshing shower in Cronin’s you can finally relax awhile and enjoy a tasty barbeque, drinks, traditional Irish musical entertainment and the all important post event medal presentation. You can be extremely proud of your fantastic achievement and hugely memorable participation in Killarney’s Ultimate High Peaks Challenge!!!