ApproachThis route requires two cars. Drop a car at the base of the road leading to the hydro station at the base of Lough Eighter (grid reference V 771 871 on the OSI Discovery Series Map), and return to Kate Kearney's cottage (about a 20 minute drive). The cottage is about 10-15 minutes west of Killarney...the drop off point is west of Kate Kearney's.
Route DescriptionDistance: 12km
Total altitude gain: ~1700m
Takes 7-10 hours, depending how often one stops to enjoy the scenery.
Unfortunately my camera was broken on this walk. I'd suggest getting an OSI map (number 78) for this walk. Head south on the road for a half mile, then turn right up a trail (hard to miss, there is a sign from Kerry Mountain Rescue at the start). At the end of the trail, you'll hit a boggy field. Go south through the field, then up towards Cnoc an Bhráca (point marked at 731m). On a clear day, you can see your next steps.
Two peaks rise to the SW - Cruach Mhór and The Big Gun. Head this direction (or SWS) for about 1500m. You'll come to Cruach Mhór first. The grotto on top can be seen far in the distance. After reaching the summit, take care on the ridge to The Big Gun. Keep to the skyline if possible. It's easy to get stranded on either side. After completing a couple of scrambling moves that require tolerance for exposure, you've passed the worst of it. Follow ridge over to Cnoc na Péiste (988m), which also involves a bit of scrambling. An easy walk, following the ridge, with some fun exposure. The ridge goes WSW, then WNW, then another zig zag. Easy to see on a clear day. You will finally pass the Devil's Ladder on your right, then see an drastic increase in erosion of the trail. Follow this up Carrautoohil, then back down the ridge SW towards Caher. Make sure you know which way you are going on foggy days...many Mountain Rescue calls are caused by taking the wrong path off the summit.
The Caher ridge is majestic, with great exposure (but if you're a bit faint of heart you can edge down the left side of the ridge a bit). Follow the path down the spur, and make for the edge of Lough Eighter. Take the road 2km to the car, and head back to Kearney's for a well-earned pint!
Essential GearMap (OSI discovery number 78) and compass, and know how to use them! Foggy weather can easily disorient the most experienced climbers.
Dress for all seasons. The cliche here rings true: You may see all four seasons in one day. It's rare to spend more than a couple of hours in the Irish mountains without changing clothing.