Mweelrea

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Guided Walking Holidays in Mayo & Connemara, Ireland

 

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Posts tagged with: 'Mweelrea'

Mweelrea – Hiking Mayo’s Magical Mountain

Mweelrea

Connacht’s highest mountain, Mweelrea offers a great day’s hiking. The finest mountain in the West of Ireland, Mweelrea can be tackled along a number of routes, my favourite being anti-clockwise from the southern end of Doo Lough over the mountain to Delphi Mountain Resort. This is a serious 8-hour hike and is for experienced hillwalkers only *.

Parking the car at Doo Lough, we cross the river at a weir/sluice immediately at the south end of the lake. Do not climb here, but rather follow a fence for some hundred metres southwards, to a point where it turns sharp left and descends close to the river. Here, we leave it and ascend via a gully to the first flattish part, before driving on towards the top and the cliff edge leading north-westwards across to point 760m. On the way up, turn around and take in the fab views of the Sheeffrys and Ben Gorm behind, as well as Croagh Patrick sticking its conical head up.

Now we circle above the great NE corrie, taking in points 790m, 803m and 790m, all the while enjoying this magnificent coum and its cliffs below. Along with the ocean views later, this is one of the two wonderful highlights of this fantastic hiking day.

Mweelrea corrie

Walls of the great NE corrie.

A walk westwards across the gently sloping hillside beneath point 795m brings us to the col below Mweelrea’s summit, before an easy enough drag up to its 814m top. The top of this great mountain is a little disappointing, just a flat boggy mess (like many of Mayo’s mountains), but the views are tremendous. Enjoy all the lovely islands and rocks of the west coast (including, most notably, Inisturk), the splendid beaches of Mayo and Galway, the Killary fjord and Benchoonas, Twelve Bens and Maumturk mountains to the south.

Mweelrea Ben Lugmore

Looking back towards points 790m, 803m, 790 m.

 

Mweelrea summit

Mweelrea summit, with Lough Bellawaum below.

We descend south then southeast towards point 495m, but without climbing it. Instead, we keep our tired legs to its north and head for the little Sruhaunbunatrench River exiting Lough Lugaloughan. Follow its banks towards the plantation forest above Delphi and exit on one of its various tracks down to the road. Walk 3km back to your car.

Mweelrea descent

The descent, with Lough Lugaloughan. Killary fjord in the background.

Mweelrea mountain hike

19 km; ascent 950 m; approx. 8 hrs.

* Note :

Mweelrea is among Ireland’s most dangerous mountains, with numerous tragedies over recent years, often involving experienced hillwalkers. Under no circumstances should you hike this mountain without a compass and waterproof map and the knowledge of how to use them. Do not venture into this mountain alone and always bring a fully-charged mobile phone, plus mobile charging device. No matter what the weather forecast says or how the sky looks at the time of your ascent, be prepared for low clouds to descend at any moment, leading to almost zero visibility at times. Respect the mountain.

Alternative Routes up Mweelrea

There are various other routes up this great mountain, most notably the more challenging “Ramp Route” from the north end of Doo Lough and the less challenging “Coastal Route” from the west.

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Sheeffry Hills – A South Mayo Hillwalking Treat

The Sheeffry Hills may not come to mind when planning a day’s hillwalking in the West of Ireland. Yet they should certainly be considered.

With their high point of 772 m at Barrclashcame towards the western end of the plateau, the Sheeffrys offer a very pleasant day’s hiking that is not terribly strenuous, yet reaches a very respectable altitude. Mayo’s third highest mountain (see my post on Mayo’s highest mountains) and higher than any point in Galway, Barrclashcame should not be ignored.

Sheeffry Hills, Mayo

Ascending the Sheeffrys

What is nice about the Sheeffrys for the walker is that, once the initial pull has been managed – which is up the grassy south-facing slopes – the top is a plateau offering fantastic views in all directions. On several occasions, I have been able to see all the way around from Donegal’s coast to that of Clare, with the distinctive abrupt end of Ben Bulben in between. The Nephin Begs, Corraun, Clare and Achill Islands dominate to the north, with great views of Croagh Patrick and the outer Clew Bay (you cannot see any of the inner “365” islands, hidden behind the bulk of the “holy mountain”).

Standing at the western end of the plateau, where the descent is best left untried, you won’t forget the views down to Doo, Fin and Glencullin Loughs, or across those bodies of water to Mweelrea beyond. At various stages along the walk, cast your eyes to the south and enjoy Tawnyard Lough, Maumtrasna, Devilsmother, Ben Gorm, The Killary, the Maumturks and the Twelve Bens. Truly, the views from the Sheeffry Mountains are among the very best anywhere in Ireland. Spectacular scenery.

Sheeffry Hills - Lough Brawn

Lough Brawn, Sheeffry Hills

The range can be accessed via its grassy slopes to the south, while excellent corries encompassed by nice scree-strewn cliffs on its northern side are somewhat less welcoming. Walking east to west along the top of the Sheeffry Hills plateau from whichever of several entry points chosen, the walker enjoys the corrie lake of Lough Brawn, the two unnamed lakes on the top, one of which is in the shape of a banana and the nice, but harmless, ridge separating the scree-strewn northern slopes from their more grassy and less steep southern brothers.

Indeed, the range can now also be accessed on its eastern extremity from the section of the Western Way that has recently been taken off-road. This brings the walker north from Tawnyard Lough and up by Tawny Rower. Another option is to avoid this (lower) area to the east and ascend from the south, up the long southeast spur. Points 742m and 762m can be visited on the way across to Barrclashcame.

Descend southwards (not westwards) from near the western extreme, heading towards the Scots Pines and wall near the south-eastern corner of Doo Lough, where the bridge crosses the Glenummera River just north of the junction between the Louisburgh to Leenane Road and that coming in from Drummin.

Sheeffry Hills Walk

Distance 12 km; total ascent 912 m; time 5 hours.

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Irish Red Cross Sunrise Summit Challenge, April 14

I am happy to relay this press release from the Irish Red Cross :

Irish Red Cross

Irish Red Cross Sunrise Summit Challenge

From:  Vikki Walshe, Challenge Events, Irish Red Cross | 01 642 4659 | challengeevents [at] redcross.ie


Irish Red Cross Sunrise Summit Challenge – Trek Ireland’s Highest Peaks at Night

The Irish Red Cross this week launched ‘Sunrise Summit Challenge’, a brand new charity adventure which will simultaneously take place at ten mountain locations across Ireland.  The Sunrise Summit Challenge will see participants hike through the early morning darkness, of April 14th, reaching the mountain summits in time to witness the sun rise over Ireland.

The ten mountains, in Kerry, Wicklow, Tipperary, Mayo, Galway, Donegal, Waterford and Down, offer a range of exciting route types, suitable for every level of experience.  From ambling treks through beautiful woodland to more challenging ascents of glacial corries and spectacular arêtes, this challenge will appeal to everyone from seasoned adventurers to Sunday hikers.  Each group will be guided by specially trained Irish Red Cross Mountain Guides, getting them safely through the darkness and up to the mountain peaks.

The Sunrise Summit Challenge offers a unique opportunity to take part in an unforgettable mountain adventure whilst also raising funds for the Irish Red Cross’ humanitarian work in Ireland and around the world.

For more information and for individuals and groups wishing to register for their place in the Sunrise Summit Challenge, visit www.sunrisesummitchallenge.ie or contact the Sunrise Summit Team at challengeevents@redcross.ie. Telephone 01 642 4659. 

The registration fee is €40 per person, and participants are asked to raise €85 sponsorship (€125 total).  All participants must have registered in advance of the event; registration closing date is April 8th.

The 10 Irish Red Cross Sunrise Summit Mountains are:

–           Carrauntoohil – Co. Kerry

–           Torc – Co. Kerry

–           Lugnaquilla – Co. Wicklow

–           Djouce – Co. Wicklow

–           Galtymore – Co. Tipperary

–           Mweelrea – Co. Mayo

–           Diamond Hill – Co. Galway

–           Slieve Donard – Co. Down

–           Errigal – Co. Donegal

–           Coumshinguan Circuit – Co. Waterford

I support the Irish Red Cross in a modest manner on a monthly basis. You can too. Visit http://www.redcross.ie/fundraising/

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Mayo Mountains – How Many are There ?

While Ireland’s mountains are modest on a European scale, Mayo mountains are modest even in the national context. They are, nonetheless, wonderful for one characteristic at least – the fabulous ocean or lake views they afford the hiker.

I once stood in the then Bord Fáilte office in Paris back in the 1980s and read a letter enquiring as to the very best mountains in Ireland for skiing ! It made me smile. Often, in continental Europe (and perhaps beyond), people imagine that our north-western outpost is much more mountainous than is the case.

Mayo is a county characterised by mountains, bogs and coast. But just how many Mayo mountains are there ?

Before answering that question, let’s have a look at some loose mountain-related terms. A ‘spur’ is a ridge projecting downward from a mountain towards lower ground, while a ‘ridge’ itself is a long, narrow raised land formation with (sometimes very steep) sloping sides. A ‘shoulder’ is an often quite rounded flank of a mountain, perhaps before it transforms into a downward-sloping spur.

With these unscientific terms in mind, we quickly see that there are many fewer mountains in Mayo (and, indeed, Ireland) than some people, websites and physical features’ names might suggest. You see, very often what are called mountains are really little more than high points on shoulders, ridges or spurs. They’re sometimes referred to as ‘summits’ and there’s talk of ‘prominence’, though I’ve never been terribly comfortable with those terms either.

For example, it is clear to me that Mweelrea is one single mountain and that names attributed to sections of that mountain, such as Ben Lugmore and Ben Bury are really of no significance. This is one big mountain massif, where the summit is surrounded by ever-so-slightly lower ground that just happens to be big enough to have a few high points jotted around its obviously uneven top and slopes.

 

Mayo mountains, Birreencorragh

Birreencorragh, 698m

Birreencorragh is another example. To its S is the so-called Glenlara, to its W Mount Eagle while, to the E, Knockaffertagh occupies its spur. Yes, there are ‘cols’, or lower points, between the summit and these points, but since the mountains aren’t man-made, we can hardly expect them to descend in a straight line with equal gradient from top to bottom. Once again, this is clearly just one single mountain, with the usual few shoulders followed by spurs running down in various directions to lower ground.

So, just how many Mayo mountains are there then ? Well, in a land where the highest point is a mere 1,038 m and not one of the top 20 Irish peaks is in Connacht, here are the top heights in the Mayo mountains (400 m + peaks). Mayo mountains are most often not rocky at the top, so while I’m at it, I’ve noted which are more or less boggy on top and which can claim some degree of rockiness.

Mayo Mountains

Mweelrea – 814 m – boggy – no. 16 on map

Nephin Mór – 806 m – boggy – no. 11

Barrclashcame (Sheeffrys) – 772 m – boggy – no. 15

Croagh Patrick – 764 m – rocky – no. 14

Slieve Carr – 721 m – boggy – no. 6

Corrannabinnia (Coiscéim Carrach) – 714 m – rocky – no. 8

Ben Gorm – 700 m – boggy – no. 17

Birreencorragh – 698 m – rocky – no. 10

Croaghaun – 688 m – rocky – no. 1

Maumtrasna – 682 m – boggy – no. 18

Slievemore – 661 m – boggy – no. 2

Nephin Beg – 627 m – boggy – no. 7

Buckoogh – 588 m – boggy – no. 9

Corraun Hill – 541 m – boggy – no. 5

Minaun – 466 m – boggy – no. 3

Knockmore (Clare Island) – 462 m – boggy – no. 13

Knockletragh (Corraun) – 452 m – boggy – no. 4

Croaghmoyle – 430 m – boggy – no. 12

That’s 18 mountains, 7 of which rise to 700 m or more. Each of these mountains is clearly demarcated by low ground, or sea, all around. Of these, 12 lie in roughly the Castlebar – Newport – Achill – Bangor Erris area, while the remaining 6 are to be found west or south of Westport, heading down towards Killary Harbour and Lough Mask. I consider just 4 to have something approaching mildly rocky tops. The rest, dear friends, are boggy on top. But I love them all.

Corrannabinnia, or Coiscéim Carrach to give the mountain its more correct name, remains one of my favourites. The ascent is up and down over several spot heights, giving a total positive climb of around 1,000m. There’s a proper rock strewn peak (a pretty rare feature in Mayo mountains, as they are more typically peat covered even at the top) and a nice ridge between its main and SW tops. To the north of this very steep cliff lies the awesome Owenduff blanket bog. There’s the added bonus of a great view out across Clew Bay as you descend after a 6 to 8 hour mountain horseshoe hike. It’s great.

East and North Mayo cannot, unfortunately, claim any mountains of over 400 m altitude, although the latter does, of course, boast magnificent low hills offering splendid views out over the ocean. See my post on walking the North Mayo coastline.

Here’s a rough map of Mayo mountains – all 18 of them !

 

Mayo Mountains, hillwalking in Mayo

Mayo’s Mountains

So do come along and explore the Mayo mountains. You won’t bag any overly impressive heights, but you’ll enjoy day-long experiences and views you won’t forget for many a day.

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First Hillwalking of New Year

I got out hillwalking at the weekend for the first time since the holidays. Not 100% successful, I must admit!

Walking in Connemara and Mayo

Devilsmother from the northern Maumturks

On Saturday, I met up with a mate and we decided to take on the northern end of the Maumturks. Standing watch over Leenane, the Maumturks are nice mountains with great views over Killary Harbour (Ireland’s only true fjord), Mweelrea, Ben Gorm, Devilsmother and other summits all around. They’re not very high by any means, but it just wasn’t going to happen on this occasion. The wind was too strong and I could hardly stand up against it. The fierce wind was rushing up the fjord, coming around the corner of the hills and hitting me on my right hand side. Maybe if I had brought some extra ballast in my pockets or lead in my boots. Having been knocked over one time too many, it was time to admit defeat and descend.

So descend we did. We drove on over to Glencullin Lough, beyond Doo Lough on the truly stunning road over towards Louisburgh (and back in Mayo), where we could admire the magnificent cliffs of the steep-walled corrie between Ben Bury and Lugmore. We spent the late afternoon and into the dark refreshing our night navigation skills, heading home after 6.30 pm. There’s definitely something extra lovely about hiking around after dark. As long as you have batteries for your head torch, a map and compass, that is.

Hillwalking in Mayo

Glencullin Lough

On Sunday morning, I travelled back down south to take on Devilsmother. A serious slog gets you up onto what is possibly Ireland’s best true plateau. In strong wind again, I nevertheless completed a loop hike that also took in the highest point of the plateau, Maumtrasna, at 702 m.

A good weekend of hillwalking in south Mayo and north Galway.

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Mayo as Green Walking Holiday Destination

Ecotourism in Mayo | Guided walking holidays

Cong Lakes Walks - May Bank Holiday Wekend 2011

The value of anything a Green Party representative says in the current circumstances, where the party faces wipe-out in the upcoming election, has to be questioned. Nevertheless, it is nice to see them talk up Mayo’s wonderful rural tourism and walking holiday product offer.

According to them, Mayo can be Ireland’s number one destination for green holidays and ecotourism. I agree wholeheartedly. The statement, which also mentions food tourism, continues that “the area where tourism is growing is in the activity, environmental and cultural sectors. Mayo’s magnificent natural environment is a haven for eco and adventure tourism.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Mind you, the statement, as reported, then gets a black mark, in my view, when it goes on to mention creating walkways and cycle trails “along existing rural roads”. Ouch ! No thank you. Walking on roads, no matter how rural and unused, is of very little interest at all. It is quality we need to offer.

So what do we have ? Well, for starters, there’s the Greenway cycle and walking trail, soon to be open from Westport to Achill along its full 42 km off-road route. Then we have Erris, with its wonderful cliff-top walks. We have the Coillte managed native forest regeneration project site at Clonbur and Cong, where non-native conifers have been removed to allow the recolonisation by our native oaks, hazel and ash.

We have The Bangor Trail, the wildest and finest old track in the country. We have the fabulous Nephin Beg Mountains, so remote, wild, wet and wonderful. In the south, we have Mweelrea, Connacht’s highest peak and its awesome views all around, over the Atlantic and Killary Harbour.

We have cycle hire, sea kayaking, wind surfing, kite surfing, sailing, curragh racing, duathlons, triathlons, orienteering, Gaelforce West. We have scuba diving, sea angling, environmentally serious hotels and B&Bs, etc, etc.

This is Mayo – come check us out.

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