Length 16 Kilometre(s) | Highest point 832 metre(s)
Purple Mountain, Shehy Mountain, An Chathair & Tomies Mountain clockwise via Tomies Chimneys from Kate Kearney's Cottage
Start/Finish Large, free, car park opposite Kate Kearney's Cottage, a pub, in the Gap of Dunloe which is signposted off the N72 Killorglin road to the west of Killarney
Distance/Time 16 km Approx 8 hours
Peaks Purple Mountain, 832 m, V 887 852 (Irish National Grid System)
Shehy Mountain, 762 m, V 902 857.
An Chathair, 735 m, V 895 868.
Tomies Mountain, 568 m, V 891 874.
Irish OS Discovery Series Map 78 (1:50000)
Irish OS Macgillycuddy's Reeks (1:25000)
Introduction These hills dominate the SW side of Lough Learne and are well seen from Killarney. They are quite rough hills and the paths can often be boggy. They offer fine views over Killarney's Lakes to the east and to Macgillycuddy's Reeks to the west with the Maolan Bui to Cruach Mhor ridge being very prominent. Navigation is relatively straightforward although the ascent of Tomies Mountain, from the top of the Tomies Chimney gully, would need some care in mist. If you need to, you should be able to easily reset your GPS to the Irish National Grid System. It should be noted that there are some naming discrepancies between the 1:50000 map and the 1:25000 map. The peaks above have been named from the 1:25000 map. On the 1:50000 map, An Chathair is named as Tomies Mountain and some guide books refer to An Chathair as Tomies S Top. On the 1:25000 map, Tomies Mountain is shown further north, and lower, than on the 1:50000 map.
Route (1) From the car park, walk up the scenic Gap of Dunloe road, for about 1 km, to the first bridge over the river. Just over the bridge go through the “gate” to pick up a path which initially shadows the road before heading uphill. towards Tomies Chimneys which are the two adjacent gullies on the skyline. The path is faint at first but soon becomes more defined. Do not lose the path as the alternative is deep heather. Soon the path runs alongside a stone wall then below telegraph wires before ascending to the left of a prominent buttress. Beyond here the ground steepens and it is even more important to follow the path as it climbs towards the gullies which now lie above to the left. Care is needed not to lose the path on the stony sections. In places, heather has encroached on to the path. The path leads to the right hand gully where it becomes well defined and ascends, less steeply, to the right of a stony section. Soon emerge from the top of the gully and follow a path, faint in places, which initially goes left then curves around to reach the cairn which marks the summit of Tomies Mountain, 568 m. Note that this top is called Pt 568 on the 1:50000 map and in some guidebooks
(2) Descend slightly, roughly SSE, on a path, into a shallow dip then ascend up to the large cairn, with a shelter cairn nearby, which marks the summit of An Chathair, 735 m. Note that the most distinct path goes off to the east so leave it when it strays too far off course. Note that An Chathair is called Tomies Mountain on the 1:50000 map and also in some guidebooks.
(3) Descend S, on a good path, into a broad col where there is a stony hump about 20 m high which is on the right, W, of the path. Look for a path which traverses the NE flank of Pt 757. There is a simple rock step on this path which runs out just before the col between Pt 757 and Shehy Mountain. From the col, head ESE then ENE over easy stony ground, passing a few cairns, to reach a medium cairn which is the summit of Shehy Mountain, 762 m. A short distance beyond the summit is a smaller cairn from which there are excellent views over Killarney's Lakes.
(4) Retrace to the col then continue ahead and ascend to Pt 757 where there is a cairn on the summit. Note that some guide books refer to Pt 757 as Tomies South Top. Descend SW into a well defined col then ascend up the other side, where there is a choice of paths, to reach the large shelter cairn which is the summit of Purple Mountain, 832 m. The cairn just before the shelter cairn appears to be of similar height.
(5) Descend initially SW, following a line of cairns. Drop into a shallow dip then ascend the other side where there is a small cairn. Continue down the ridge which heads S on easy slopes with a good path most of the time except where stony areas are encountered. The stony areas can be avoided by drifting to the E flank of the mountain where the ground is more grassy and there is a distinct path. When the ground almost levels off, the path swings W and descends to the N end of Glas Lough which will be clearly visible in good weather. Once at Glas Lough, which is very scenic, the path down to the Head of the Gap of Dunloe shadows a wall and stream for about 1 km before swinging off W for the final descent to the road. The path from Glas Lough can be very boggy but there are several paths, the best of which seem to be furthest from the wall. Once on the road, it is a 6 km walk back to the start.
Notes (a) This walk took place on 18th April, 2012.
(b) Do not attempt a direct route from Purple Mountain back to the road as the ground is very steep and rocky with many crags not shown on the map.
(c) The Fossa camp and caravan site, at V 910 923 is very good. It is about 3 miles from Kate Kearney's Cottage. 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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