Overcome challenging ascents, knife-edged mountain ridges, high cliffs and roaring mountain streams by taking on Ireland’s three highest peaks: Carrauntoohil 1,039m, Beenkeragh 1,010m and Caher 1,001m – otherwise known as the Coomloughra Horseshoe.
The Hydra Track Car Park, on the Glencar road, some 8km from Killorglin, marks the start of this energy-sapping route. The “Hydro Road” as locals call it, leads climbers up to Lough Eighter, which marks the entrance to the impressive bowl of Coumloughra at an altitude of 400m. From here, the vast encircling route can be seen ahead; it’s best tackled in a clockwise direction, as it means the heavier climbing is completed in the first half of the day.
Easy ground leads over Skregmore at 848m and onto Beenkeragh, Ireland’s second highest mountain – the Gaelic name of which, Binn Chaorach, translates into “peak of the sheep”. Here, a rocky boulder field leads climbers to the summit from where the north-east face of Carrauntoohil looks spectacular. This is a good resting point to re-fuel for the day ahead with the first peak in the bag.
Descending to the south west, the path leads to the famous Beenkeragh / Carrauntoohil Ridge. This is an exposed ridge that demands respect and is best avoided in windy conditions. A good head for heights and resolve are needed to tackle the 750m of challenging scrambling that leads on to the final stretch up to the summit of Carrauntoohil. Ireland’s highest peak conquered? A selfie at the summit’s Iron Cross is essential to ensure bragging rights back home with pals. On a clear day, the panoramic views of the Reeks, Dingle Peninsula, Kenmare Bay and even as far as the mountains of North Cork are unrivalled and awe inspiring.
From here, the Caher Ridge, while not as jagged as the Beenkeragh Ridge, is testing and increases in steepness and difficulty as climbers reach the summit of Caher. “Cathair na Féine” in Gaelic means “stone fort of the Fianna” – the legendary warriors who roamed these hills.
The descent is mainly downhill all the way back to the car park – it’s a much easier descent, but it’s only here that the scale and grandeur of the route will begin to sink in.
Suggested Bar & Restaurant
Bunkers Bar & Restaurant
Bunkers is a family owned bar and restaurant in Killorglin, just opposite the Reeks District Visitor Centre.
They serve good wholesome food all year round – breakfast, lunches and evening meals. They also have trad sessions in the bar and live music at the weekends. You’re guaranteed a very warm welcome!