Hiking Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain

Hiking Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain

Oh gosh, I don’t know how I have strengths to write this today…, but I have to! Today makes exactly one month since I arrived in Cork, so what’s the best way to celebrate it? Hiking the island’s highest mountain! Carrauntoohil!

Preparing for the hike

My closest friends, and now some colleges of mine, are aware of one of my precious gifts…, I have the ability to make myself invited to almost everything! Not always I am well succeeded…, but I still keep trying! Well, today was more or less the same, I heard some colleges of mine planning a hiking trip and I asked if I could join them, immediately they said yes and that was the start for the amazing day I just had!

I knew nothing about the hiking, I asked nothing about it! I just knew I should buy some hiking boots…, and I did it! If it was one month ago, I would stay at home…, thankfully now I can spoil a little bit myself and I did it, I bought one of those boots that just saved my day today! Several times!

The way to the top of Ireland

I woke up at 7am, everything already packet and some food on the fridge just waiting to be picked and packed, I prepared some scrambled eggs and ate it along with a tomato…, usually I just drink milk at breakfast but I thought I should eat something more…, heavy? And I started my trip the other 11 fellows! About one hour until the bottom of the “hill”, yes, I thought it was hill walking…, and I knew I was nearby Killarney, which I have never heard of before so it was the same for me…, I was nearby “X”.


We started climbing…, holy mother of gosh! The first stage was so steep!! But in a kind of concrete, which wasn’t that bad…, or not…, the way back we wish we had no concrete at all! But well, let’s proceed! The view is just amazing, I was all the time magnified with the view, in respect of irish culture and sightseeing, I am totally a virgin so maybe that’s why I was, so repeatedly, saying “wow”! I became kind of boring after a while, but I don’t care! It was really WOW!

After the first stage, we arrived nearby a lake, and then the mud bath! We had to pass through a bog, that was the first time I thanked for every single cent I paid for my boots…, I totally bury my leg until the knee and it didn’t get wet! The same I can’t say about my pants…, I was wearing jeans (what a smart move for a hiking day) that after that moment became the “shitty” jeans…, not that wet though, but kinda of full of mud…

View of the Killarney Lakes while heading to the top of Carrauntoohil
View of the Killarney Lakes while heading to the top of Carrauntoohil

The the first hill, it was totally ok, no problem at all just a little bit steep but nothing like the warm up stage. From the top of that hill I saw what I thought it was our goal…, and I said “I can’t do that!! It is fucking high!!!” I am so naïve…, that was just the first of three peaks!! Also the hardest, but well…, it was REALLY HARD!!!

The first peak I think it took almost a quarter of our time to get there, we arrived there around 1pm if I can recall exactly and then we had lunch there. Carrying around 5l of water didn’t help as well…, it was a really hard first peak! A lot of sheep and photos in between and climbing climbing climbing…, funny thing is that we took the hardest path and we only realized that when we were coming back and we saw the proper trail…, from the top we had a better view from what we should expect by then!

The second peak…, well, first we had to go down from the first peak, but through the other side…, we didn’t climb peaks just for fun, that was really the trail to get to the top of the third peak. Something I forgot to mention, we had 3 dogs with us, two big ladies and a tiny man! They were part of our fun, and they are really energetic! Oh gosh…, sometimes I wished I were a dog…

As I was trying to tell, the second peak, not that hard as the first one, but quite “sharp”. Both sides of the hill really steep and we had to ensure we did it safely, I think that is what makes that peak harder, not the path itself but the safety of it.

Then the third and last peak…, it was the easiest that one, quite bigger and only our tiredness made it harder because the trail isn’t hard at all. On the top, I finally found out where I was…, Carrauntoohil, nothing just the highest peak in Ireland! What a great way to celebrate my first month in Ireland! And then…, talking about Ireland…, rainy weather…, that wasn’t pleasant at all and made the way back more challenging!  The rain wasn’t harsh, but the foggy yes…, that kinda of freaked me out, the first (not the last) peak was really challenging and now slippery…, yes, I was really afraid of what I could expect now.

Hiking Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain
Hiking Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain

The way back was really easier than I thought, of course we already knew the path, even foggy we could see the next 10m so it was enough not to get lost nor last-minute surprises, as I said before, the way down of the first peak was easier because we did it through the proper trail, still hard for our tired bodies, but easier. The mud bath was changed, from the top we saw another path around the mud which we tried. Kinda of watery, but better than mud and no surprises at all. We did it around the lake, which was great because the dogs could swim and getting clean. After that, the last break where we ate the last food! The only part left was the warm up steep trail of concrete…, it really didn’t help because it’s hard to break while going down and the ground was really harsh which also didn’t help to the more than tired legs…

I was so happy when I felt straight land again! Happy, wasted and with an almost smile on my face! Not a big smile because nor my facial muscles I could move after that long day…, 7 hours and a half hiking! Oh, I love my new and already dirty boots!

Where is Carrauntoohil?

Carrauntoohil is the highest peak in Ireland, and it is in the south-west of the island. The only way to reach the peak is on foot hiking. The closest city is Killarney, the capital of county Kerry.

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

1 comment

  1. a primeira vez que fiz hiking/trekking foi na alemanha.. 14 kilómetros, para cima e para baixo nos trilhos que existiam numa parte do http://www.rheinsteig.de/ achei super cool.. não vais acreditar, mas dessa vez ainda fiz pior do que tu pois apenas tinha uma mochila de portátil (lolada) e os meus nike airforce1…
    resultado, no final do dia tinha os pés e as costas feitos num 8….
    o fixe é que isso é super contagiante e qd começas a fazer, começas a ganhar gosto e acabas por gostar de estar ao ar livre a caminhar… ano passado fiz 6kilómetros nos açores e adorei 🙂
    bons passeios! toca a mexer esse traseiro ehe*

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