Conor Murphy has come up with a novel idea. You may have heard of the Wicklow Round, a long distance run covering many of the peaks in County Wicklow. Conor has raised the possibility of having a South Kerry Round. Conor explans his idea below:
It seems to me that with 102 mountains between the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Dunkerron, Purple and Mangerton ranges, South Kerry would be an ideal location for a tough high altitude route for walkers and runners. So was pondering a few options recently and came up with the following which takes in 29 summits which might be of interest to those who like challenges, or maybe more to the point at this stage those who like maps and planning such matters (the highest point in each “stage” is given).
Start – Galway’s Bridge – there is a carpark here, it’s on a main road, and during the summer months a cafe just a mile or so west along the Ring of Kerry main road.
Head north east along the Kerry Way, passing east of Torc Mountain and going through the forestry to the base of Mangerton, follow the trail to Mangerton North Top, on to Mangerton (839m) itself and descend via the summits at Dromderalough North East, Dromderalough, Knockrower and Shaking Rock, end up back at Galways’ Bridge where the car was left, for the first stretch.
Cross the road and take the Kerry Way north west, skirting the Upper Lough of Killarney’s Lakes and entering the Black Valley. Take the road into the Gap of Dunloe and at the Head of the Gap, head for the summit of Purple Mountain (832m). Continue on to its North East Top and Tomies, with an option of taking in Shehy Mountain here. Make way back down to the pub at Kate Kearney’s Cottage for a second stop.
The next leg would be the toughest, taking in the length of the Eastern Reeks and the Big Gun Ridge before tackling Carrauntoohil and Caher, and thus including the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th and 12th highest summits in the country. Ascending the Eastern Reeks via Strickeen and on to Cnoc an Bhraca and Cruach Mhor, then onto the Big Gun Ridge itself and the Reeks Ridge proper over the top of Knocknapeasta, Maolan Bui, Cnoc an Chuilinn East Top, Cnoc an Chuilinn and Cnoc na Toinne. The route would then skirt the top of the Devil’s Ladder and on up the south slopes of Carrauntoohil (1039m), then along Caher Ridge and on to Caher, Caher West Top and descending via the ridge that leads south west and back to the Kerry Way in the Bridia Valley. Again, there is a cafe/restaurant here and so it would provide another natural break before the final challenge.
The Lough Duff Circuit – follow the Kerry Way east and break off for Broaghnabinnia, and from there on to Stumpa Duloigh (784m), Stumpa Duloigh South East Top. At this stage the hard work is all done, and although there’s a few miles left across Knocknabreeda, Crossderry and Mothailin, it’s the home stretch. One meets the road at the Upper Lough again, and returns along the route that skirts that lake and back to the car.
The above is all very theoretical. If someone with better computer skills than me and time on their hands could plot it out on some map, it might give a better idea of all the foregoing. I do like the way it takes in 4 ranges with some natural breaks in valleys beside a cafe or pub. Being a running novice and not knowing the first thing about ultra marathons, someone with more experience might scoff and say it’s too easy…or too hard. When the running season ends, think I might try and walk it all in stages and report back here and let ye know the viability of it all. To be a true round for running purposes, there has to be some prospect of getting it done in 24 hours..so have to find some guinea pig for that aspect too! Incidentally, for more info on any of the above try mountainviews.ie, and for more info on the Wicklow Round here is a link, visit https://www.imra.ie/wicklowround/