Struggling with autumn and winter? How about taking a weekend mountain climb?
I’ve been hiking and climbing the Irish mountains for more than seven years now. Though Ireland is not a big island, and its mountains are not very high, I discover a new breath-taking mountain range almost every year. Through the years, we have hiked and explored peaks in six different mountain ranges. From Carrauntoohil – the highest peak in Ireland, located in County Kerry surrounded by almost extra-terrestrial scenery; through Lugnaquilla – the highest peak in the Wicklow mountains, flat- topped Benbulbin in Sligo, and the Iconic Croagh Patrick where you can join tradition and try to climb the rocky route bare-foot (good luck with that). At the time we thought we had seen it all and Ireland would not be able to surprise us anymore.
We couldn’t have been farther from the truth. If you are patient and persistent, Ireland will continue to surprise you and uncover its charm and beauty hidden in the highlands, where crags, lakes and green peaks are lurking and waiting to be discovered.
This year we discovered the Galtee Mountains and I fell in love at first sight. The discovery was unexpected. One late evening while visiting a friend, he mentioned that he needed to get out more and it would be nice to go for a hike. We were considering The Slieve Bloom Mountains which are just around the corner from our town, but suddenly I recalled a photograph of an amazing precipice with mountain lakes that I must have seen in the ‘Outsider magazine.’ An idea sprung to mind and the next day we were on our way driving through county Tipperary to discover the beauty of the rather unknown range.
The Galtee Mountains are a mountain range located in Ireland’s Golden Vale across parts of counties Limerick, Tipperary and Cork. It is Ireland’s highest inland mountain range with the highest peak, Galteemore, rising to 919m (3018ft).
We explored the Galtee Mountains twice this year, in the summer and also in late autumn.
When we took our first trip, the summer was slowly ending. We had no idea that it would be the hottest day of the season. We got to the base of the mountain range driving from Michelstown and decided to climb the Galteemore from the east side. After finding a small parking place in an agricultural farm, we discovered with dread that there was no route to the top of the hill from where we parked. We could either try to find another parking place with a proper route (later we learnt that there was one, only 1 kilometer away) or try to climb the mountain on our own without a specific route. We chose the latter.
After an hour of tearing through the bushes and heathers, we finally arrived at a small waterfall where we noticed the actual route to the top of the mountain. We climbed the waterfall and made it to the well-marked route. From that point, the climb seemed much easier, taking two and a half hours to get to the top. It was hot and I skinned my heal, but when we finally reached the top, an amazing view of rocky crags, cliffs, mountain lakes and County Tiperrary, Limrick and Cork was a satisfactory reward for our struggles. Just look at the pictures and you will understand why.
The second trip took place in late autumn. This time we prepared ourselves much better. We took a different route getting to the mountain range from Aherlow, where we climbed three mountains and explored the lakes at the foot of the range. The route wasn’t particularly long (about 10 miles) but it was a very steep walk. Though the hike was tough and we felt the cold air coming from the ocean, the sky was blue and the journey very rewarding.
What did we like about the Galtee Mountains?
- The breath-taking view of county Tipperary, Limerick and Cork
- The high, steep and dangerous crags, cliffs and rocks
- You can explore beautiful mountain lakes, waterfalls and rich bog life with your family (they are easy to access, located at the base of the mountain range)
- The mountain range is less known, so you don’t have to wait in a queue to climb Galteemore (I can’t say that about Croagh Patrick), we met only a few hikers during our two trips
- There is a small spring near the top of the mountain where the water is crystal clear. Since we didn’t bring enough water, we enjoyed drinking from the spring.
Things to watch out for:
- High fall risk, with some steep and dangerous areas.
- Some segments are very wet, there is no chance of keeping your socks dry
- Try to use the route, walking through bushes and shrubs can be very annoying