In the last ten years, County High-pointing has established itself as one of Ireland’s most popular ‘must-do’ walking challenges. If you’re planning to take up the challenge for yourself, you’ll want to read this article by Kieron Gribbon, author of Ireland’s County High Points – A Walking Guide.
Introduction to the County High Points
A County High Point (or CHP) is, quite simply, the place in a county which is higher than every other place in that same county. Some CHPs lying directly on county boundaries represent the highest place in two neighbouring counties (e.g. Cuilcagh is the shared CHP of Fermanagh and Cavan). Most CHPs in Ireland are marked by a trig pillar, a ground-level survey marker, or a cairn. A small number remain unmarked. In total, thirty-one locations in Ireland qualify as CHPs.
County High Point, County Top or County Peak?
The terms ‘County Top’ and ‘County Peak’ are often used instead of County High Point when referring to the highest ‘point’ in a county. To confuse things, these two terms are also used when referring to the highest ‘summit’ in a county. In most cases, the highest point is located on an actual summit, therefore any of the three terms are correct in these cases. However, in counties where the highest point is located on a slope (e.g. Leitrim or Roscommon) the terms County Top and County Peak can lead to debate. The respective County High Points of Leitrim and Roscommon are located on county boundaries on the upper slopes of Truskmore (631m) and Seltannasaggart (412m). Their County Tops / County Peaks, however, depending on each person’s interpretation, could be taken as the summits of Tievebaun Mountain (611m) and Kilronan Mountain (335m) respectively. Of the three terms, County High Point is the only one which clearly refers to the all-important highest point in a county, whether it be on a summit or on a slope.
County High-pointing in Ireland
In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the popularity of County High-pointing in Ireland. Regular comments on the Mountainviews website (Ireland’s largest online hill walking community) indicate that a steady flow of walkers are working towards the goal of visiting all of these special high places in Ireland.
More and more people have identified County High-pointing as an opportunity to raise much needed funds for charities and clubs. In the past, ‘100 Hour’ CHP challenges have been organised, and one source states that, in April 2009, a team of challengers managed to visit every Irish CHP in 89.5 hours – the fasted time reported to date. The fasted entirely-human-powered all-Ireland round of CHPs was completed in 22 days – this was the Pedal to Peaks charity cycle-walk fund-raiser undertaken in June 2010. For most County High-pointers, however, the challenge is usually scheduled over a period of months or years as a series of separate day walks.
As well as the All-Ireland version, other challenges based on the CHPs are also worth considering. These include the Republic of Ireland CHP Challenge, the Northern Ireland CHP Challenge, the Irish Four Peaks Challenge, and four provincial CHP challenges.
Reasons to become a County High-pointer
It gives you the opportunity to be the ‘geographically’ highest person in one or more of Ireland’s thirty-two counties.
Walking to every Irish CHP is an achievable goal for the majority of hill walkers in Ireland. As mentioned above it can be a personal challenge or a charity challenge. Either way, standing on your final CHP is guaranteed to provide an enormous sense of achievement.
County High-pointing is a good reason to visit every county in Ireland.
CHPs offer the longest and widest views available in the whole of Ireland – depending on the weather!
Irish County High Point locations
Carrauntoohil – Co. Kerry (1,039m)
Lugnaquillia Mountain – Co. Wicklow (925m)
Galtymore Mountain – Co. Limerick* (919m)
Galtymore Mountain – Co. Tipperary* (919m)
Slieve Donard (2 options) – Co. Down (853m)
Mweelrea – Co. Mayo (814m)
Mount Leinster – Cos. Wexford & Carlow (795m)
Knockmealdown – Co. Waterford (794m)
Kippure – Co. Dublin (757m)
Errigal Mountain – Co. Donegal (751m)
Benbaun – Co. Galway (729m)
Knockboy – Co. Cork (706m)
Sawel Mountain – Cos. Derry & Tyrone (678m)
Cuilcagh – Cos. Fermanagh & Cavan (665m)
Truskmore – Co. Sligo (647m)
Truskmore SE Slope – Co. Leitrim (631m)
Slieve Foye – Co. Louth (589m)
Slieve Gullion – Co. Armagh (573m)
Trostan – Co. Antrim (550m)
Moylussa (2 options) – Co. Clare (532m)
Arderin – Co. Laois** (527m)
Arderin – Co. Offaly** (527m)
Brandon Hill – Co. Kilkenny (515m)
Seltannasaggart SE Slope – Co. Roscommon (412m)
Cupidstown Hill – Co. Kildare (379m)
Slieve Beagh East Top – Co. Monaghan (373m)
Corn Hill – Co. Longford (278m)
Carnbane East – Co. Meath (276m)
Mullaghmeen – Co. Westmeath (258m)
* the CHP of Limerick is higher than that of Tipperary by <0.5m
** the CHP of Laois is higher than that of Offaly by <0.5m
Ireland’s County High Points – A Walking Guide was published by The Collins Press in 2012. It is the first-ever guidebook devoted exclusively to County High-pointing in Ireland, and explains everything you need to know as a walker before setting out on your CHP quests. Available now in good bookshops, outdoor shops, amazon.co.uk, and directly from The Collins Press.
You can find out more about Kieron and his work at: