Gerald is the Development Officer for the MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Access Forum. His role is to implement the many of the objectives contained in the MacGillycuddy Reeks Strategic Plan 2019-2023 including building awareness of the integral value of the Reeks amongst visitors, facilitating the development and fundraising efforts for the Forum to continue with necessary path restoration works to prevent further erosion and building alliances with other Upland areas in Ireland.
The forum which represents the interests of the local farmers, landowners, businesses, communities, guides and recreational users of Ireland’s largest mountain range was established under an initiative of Comhairle na Tuaithe, the Countryside Council back in mid-2014 and has been working tirelessly since then to protect, manage and sustainably develop this unique landscape.
Keep reading to learn Gerald’s best tips for having a positive experience while exploring mountain ranges like MacGillycuddy’s Reeks:
Make the most of your mountain adventure
For anyone who has taken to the mountains over the last few years has no doubt noticed a few more boots on the trails over the peaks and hills across the country. In the case of the MacGillycuddy Reeks in County Kerry a few more boots mean about a quarter of a million people annually.
Hiking, hillwalking and manner of mountain recreation has exploded in popularity over the last fewyears with more and more people either discovering or rediscovering their love of the mountains. While there is no doubt COVID and its associated lockdowns has spurred this outdoor revolution it seems that this trend is not a passing one. With that in mind for those of you lacing up your Zamberlan boots for the first time or hunting for your old Timberlands in the shed here are some useful bits of information that will help you make the most of your Mountain adventures.
Pland Ahead and Prepare
This is one you’ll see very often on advice on hiking and hillwalking but it is still one that is still very much overlooked. While up in the Reeks as development officer I often come across the casually dressed and unprepared hiker heading for the peaks even as the storm clouds roll or as the sun sinks below the mountains. I will usually stop them and ask do they know where they are going? Many if not most have Carrauntoohil in mind but more than a few couldn’t point out which peak was Carrauntoohill not to mind tell you how long a journey there and back takes. There is an unfortunate perception that Ireland’s relatively small mountains are a walk in the park, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the case of Carrauntoohil its aspects of its slopes along with its westerly location make for very challenging climbing conditions with weather that can change drastically within the space of an hour.
There is no such thing as a safe mountain and be it Carrauntoohill or Temple hill all of them deserve respect. Before you ever set foot on a mountain make sure you Know the route, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back and have the right gear. A small amount of research online will often point you in the right direction and as always there are any number of qualified and knowledgeable local guides who can bring you up.
The mountains are not just a lovely trail to a lofty peak, a place for a brisk walk or a nice Instagram picture they are much more than that, they are places of work and homes to many people. In fact, the majority of uplands in Ireland are privately owned property most of which is farmed today by the same families who have been there for generations. So, when you head up the hills, please keep in mind that you are on someone’s land and that that person(s) has kindly allowed you access. In return, please treat the land and landowners with the respect and please be sure to follow any requests and rules they might have when hiking through their land.
Support Your Mountains
Right across Ireland there are community groups, Forums and other organisations working diligently with landowners, local government, communities and businesses to ensure that the mountains of Ireland are protected, cared for and can be enjoyed by all. Groups like the Croagh Patrick Stakeholders, the MacGillycuddy Reeks Forum and many others work to help repair restore and improve the many kilometres of trails through these mountains, this requires thousands of euros to be raised annually to ensure that these beloved trails stay open so people can continue to enjoy access to the mountains. These groups need the support and help of any all who continue to appreciate and use the mountains, donate what you can to them.
Read more stories on our Notes from the Reeks blog