Situated on the northern edge of the Dingle Peninsula, Brandon is the second highest mountain in Ireland. According to legend St Brendan lived on or near the summit for a time, and the mountain is named for him. The remains of a sixth century cell near the summit suggests some truth in the legend.
On a clear day the summit commands spectacular views right across the west coast, but sitting on the edge of the Atlantic coast, clear days are very few and far between. There are three summits, the main one at 952m, Coimin na gCnamh at 891, and Brandon Peak at 840. There are several main routes up the mountain, two of them very well travelled.
The main tourist route would be from the West from An Baile Breac (Ballybrack). This takes the climber up a gentle slope to the summit and is little more than a nice walk, although sometimes high wind coming up off the Atlantic can cause problems.
The serious hiker might approach from the North, leaving the Dingle Way and walking over the full ridge, starting with Piaras Mor (748m). I have never walked this route so cannot comment on it.
For me the best route is from the East. Beginning inthe village of Cloghan, or if you prefer there is a car park further up at An Fhaiche. This route includes quite a steep incline involving some hands and knees scrambling to reach the top and is not recommended for casual walkers. If you continue the route to take in Brandon Peak it involves walking along the knife-edge Ridge, with quite impressive drops away on both sides.
There is one main route into the Dingle Peninsula from Tralee. To take the route from the East, follow signposts for Cloghane and park in the village, or keep going just beyond the village and then take the first turn on the left which will lead you up to the An Fhaiche car park.
From the west cross the Connor Pass heading for Dingle and then take the route north from here towards Feohanagh. The route to the car park is well signposted.
No red tape but be careful of crossing private farm land.
The mountain can be climbed all year, although only serious climbers should tackle it in wintery conditions. The ridge between the main summit and Brandon Peak is probably best not tackled in very high winds. For the best chance of a clear view an early morning climb is advised.
Dingle Peninsula is a popular holiday spot and there are many camping sites and hostels in the area. For climbers from the west, staying in Dingle town itself has a lively nightlife and is well recommended. From the East there are many pubs and a very good hostel in Cloghane, and more good acommodation along the coast in Brandon village.
High winds and low clouds are common. Contact the Mountaineering Council of Ireland for more information. Website at www.mountaineering.ie or by phone 00353 1 450 7376
Weather reports for the Munster region can be found at: