This has become my favourite mountain to climb. Located just outside Kilarney in Co. Kerry, Carrauntohil stands 1038.6 metres tall and holds the accolade for being Ireland’s tallest mountain in the centre of Macgillycuddy Peaks mountain range.
When you get there: You arrive in Cronin’s yard where parking for the day is a very reasonable €2. They also have little huts to stay in and areas to camp that are surrounded by fields dotted with big fluffy sheep, truly picturesque. When we arrived (Easter Sunday) Spring had sprung and there were baby lambs frolicking in the fields, we had our Easter eggs in our back packs and we were being overly optimistic by packing sunglasses.
We set off on our walk (after a search for Ciaran’s tights!!!) which was to take between 6-6.5 hours. The weather was perfect for walking, it was about 10-12 degrees, dry and clear on the ground, it was a really fresh day. We had decided that we were going to take the Devil’s ladder route up the mountain, we made our way there via the Hag’s Glen and passing The Hag’s Tooth (questioning where the rest of this Hag was 😉 ) . We would decide what route to take on the descent by way of a vote later on. The devil’s ladder is the most straight forward way up but over the years the rocks have become very loose so you need to be careful of what is going on in front of you and behind you as rocks are easily dislodged. You can’t miss the devil’s ladder, it stands tall and ominous in front of you and looking back you have a view of the beautiful lakes behind you. We took a little time here to look at out OS maps and take a little lesson in map reading, the main thing that I remember is ‘Put red to bed!!!’ It was fun, very rewarding when I figured it out and definitely something that I need to start doing a lot more of.
When we got to the top of devil’s ladder we took a little break and had some fig rolls before we went to tackle the last section of the climb. What I love the most about hiking is how friendly everyone is when you are walking. Everyone will say hello, ask you how you are and there is so much good banter. We met a lovely family from Kerry who we met at various stages along the way. They were sitting down having their lunch , they were admiring the views half way up Devil’s ladder and said ‘Lovely views, pity about those fecking mountains!!!’, brilliant 🙂 Every person is the same on the mountain. I have said it before and I will say it again, enjoy the walk, look around you and take everything in. Don’t just try to run to the top and keep your eyes on the ground the whole time.
We were near the peak and started to see the Cross atop the mountain and the sense of achievement was visible in us all. I got a few breathing techniques from Ciaran to get me to the top, take a long deep breathe in through your nose and hold it for a few seconds before you take a large exhale, repeat three or four times, this really works to expel all the carbon dioxide from your body and regulate breathing again and rocket you to the top. The main thing for us was getting to the top and cracking those Easter eggs of our heads:) The visibility from the top wasn’t great for us but of course as we descended the clouds lifted and it was clear as day, we thought about heading back up again to see the views!!!! Linda and I have no luck when it comes to visibility on the top of all the mountains that we have climbed together. After a quick recharge we decided it was time to go back down.
There are a few ways to get back down and we decided (by vote, 2-1, sorry Linda!) that we would take the Devil’s Ladder way back down again. There is another option the zig-zag route but looking at it it looked like quite a climb again to the top, and a pretty steep climb down. The next time I go climbing I will go the zig-zag way 🙂 I think there is another option too, Heaven’s gates, but I am not too sure about that. The devil’s ladder is the quickest way down.
Top of the rock, with our Easter Eggs 🙂
For afterwards they have a tea room/cafe at Cronin’s Yard where you can get home baked treats (tea cakes, scones, apple tarts), Sandwiches, Toasties and soup with brown bread, tea and coffee. Kick back, sign the visitors book, read the books scattered around the tea room and talk to fellow hikers about your experiences, enjoy every moment. I always like to get a ’99 after a hike, it is totally guilt free 🙂
For more information on packing for a walk/hike check this out : https://fairymojo.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/hiking-what-to-pack-and-eat/
Thank you Linda for taking the photos and to Ciaran for providing the singing 🙂
Get out there 🙂