Quality | 12m
Cnoc na Peiste Ridge of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks from Cronin’s Yard
Start/Finish Cronin’s Yard at the start of the Hag’s Glen. From Killarney, take the road towards Killorglin. Take the first left after the Fossa camp site, signposted Gap of Dunloe, and follow the meandering road. Do not turn off for Gap of Dunloe. When a crossroads is reached with petrol pumps and a store, the turning for Cronin’s Yard is within 200 m on the left. It is signposted. There is a small parking fee, 2 Euro in 2010. There is a cafe which is not always open but if it is, it is worth going in after the walk. The café has toilets and showers which are not available if the café is closed. The family running the café are very friendly and often have satellite TV on.
Distance/Time 12 km Approx 7 hours
Peaks Cruach Mhor, 932 m, V 841 847 (Irish National Grid System)
Big Gun, 939 m, V 841 845.
Cnoc na Peiste, 988 m, V 836 842.
Maolan Bui, 973 m, V 832 838.
Cnoc an Chuillin, 958 m, V 823 833.
Irish OS Discovery Series Map 78 (1:50000)
Introduction MacGillycuddy’s Reeks are the highest mountain range in Ireland and may well be the longest ridge over 3000 feet in the British Isles. The reeks are essentially “Y” shaped with Carrauntoohil (highest peak in Ireland) at the junction. This walk takes in most of the “tail” and offers some sensational scrambling (mostly avoidable) between Cruach Mhor and Cnoc na Peiste. Choose a good day as the Reeks can often be in cloud. Good views of Carrauntoohil will be visible throughout this route on a good day. Navigation is relatively straightforward but if you need to, you should be able to easily reset your GPS to the Irish National Grid System.
Route (1) From Cronin’s Yard walk back along the road for about 150 m and turn right, following the road up the hill then right. Go to the end of the road. Go through the gate directly in front, into a field, with a fence on your right. Keeping the fence on your right, walk ahead, then left along the edge of the field. Cross into the next field then exit on to open land. Aim for the fence ahead, on a level ridge, and follow it up a moderately steep grassy gully to emerge on a col. Turn right, W, up a path on a well defined ridge, over the shoulder of Cruach Bheag, then up more steeply, with scrambling opportunities to the huge “square” summit cairn of Cruach Mhor, 932 m. It is not really a cairn at all but a tall structure which contains a small religious grotto on its N side. This “cairn” is visible from the start on a clear day, making the summit very distinctive.
(2) Descend S to a col then ascend N. This section of ridge is very rocky. If the crest is adhered to, there are towers and hard scrambling sections but most of these can be avoided, often on the right, N. Eventually reach the summit cairn of the Big Gun, 939 m, which is essentially a large rocky pinnacle.
(3) From here to the next summit, the ridge is still very rocky. Descend SW on a path to a col then ascend to the large summit cairn of Cnoc na Peiste. The rocky difficulties are now virtually over.
(4) Descend grassy slopes, SSW, on a good path to a col then ascend SW to the summit cairn of Maolan Bui, 973 m.
(5) Descend SW on a good path to a grassy col followed by a short ascent to an unnamed top, 926 m, with a small cairn. Descend a little way SW then ascend, also SW but gradually curving around to NW, to reach the summit cairn of Cnoc an Chuillin, 958 m.
(6) Continue, descending WNW, on a good path, to the col at the head of a gully due S of Lough Callee. From here, the edge on the right, N, can be followed up to a fence and onto a flat top or the more obvious path which traverses to the S of this top. On the flat top, the grassy ridge turns WSW, dipping slightly. Continue to follow the edge (now to W). At a slight dip is a cairn. Look down the slopes to the W to see a good path running below the crest and going back towards the flat top but below it and gradually dropping away. Alternatively, walk another 40 m or so and spot a small cairn just below the crest marking the start of the path below the crest. Follow this path as it gradually descends below but, initially at least, following the crest below the flat top. Eventually, the path zig-zags down to reach the main path in the upper Hag’s Glen at a small cairn. Turn right and follow the main path down the Glen. Cross the river by some very good stepping stones which should always be above the water. Further down , the path/track splits. Take the right fork down to a new footbridge and continue over another footbridge back to Cronin’s Yard.
Notes (a) This walk took place on 12th July, 2010.
(b) An alternative descent to Hag’s Glen is to stay on the ridge and not take the zig-zag path but to continue to the lowest point on the ridge which is the top of a steep, loose descent known as the Devil’s Ladder which leads to the main path in upper Hag’s Glen. Care is needed if descending the Devil's Ladder and many choose to avoid it.
(c) The Fossa camp and caravan site, at V 910 923 is very good. It is about 7 miles from Cronin’s Yard. There are excellent showers but they are an extra 1 Euro for about 7 minutes. There is a good campers’ kitchen with 3 tables and sinks but you need your own cooker and pans. There is also a TV room . Reception is usually open quite late and they are very helpful. A computer is available for about 1 Euro for 20 minutes and there is freezer. There is a bus stop outside the site for Killarney. There is a 24 hour Tesco which is off the by pass towards the town centre. (3rd roundabout I think!) Fossa also rent out trailer vans of differing sizes. Out of high season, it can be cheaper for 2 people to rent one of these than to camp separately.
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