Hills: Caher West Top, Caher and Carrauntoohil
Date: Saturday 18th July 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 12.4km, Ascent: 1290m
Time: 5Hrs 15Mins

The weather forecast for today was not good; rain, wind and low cloud. However, I hadn't driven as far as Killarney to stay indoors so it was a case of just get on with it. With almost all of the MacGillicuddy Reeks still to do, I decided today to pick off the two at the Western end: Caher West Top and Caher.

From Killarney, I drove round to Mountain Access Point 3, at Breanlee, where I parked in the walkers car park (free parking).

The sign in the car park reminded me that I was not in Scotland: "NO DOGS - BE WARNED - DOGS MAY BE SHOT".

MacGillycuddy Reeks car park sign:

After getting suited and booted I set off walking up the very steep track.

Map of the route undertaken:

During the ascent of the steep track, I passed a group of five walkers.

Steep track beyond car park:

At the top of the steep track, I turned right to follow the grassy track leading towards Lough Eighter.

Track leading towards Lough Eighter:

As I walked along the grassy track, I could see several thrushes repeatedly flying and landing a short distance in front of me.

A thrush:

During the ascent views were minimal as there was a lot of low cloud. On a good day, I suspect I would have been able to see Brandon Mountain in the Dingle Peninsula.

Looking towards the Dingle Peninsula:

Stream a short distance below Lough Eighter:

Lough Eighter:

A short distance before the start of Lough Eighter, I had to cross an area of very boggy ground to reach the Lyreboy ridge.

Looking back across the very boggy area towards 747m top:

The cloud was down to around 500m and was showing no signs of lifting.

Low cloud above Coomloughra Lough:

Looking back to Lough Eighter from Lyreboy:

The walk along the Lyreboy ridge was fairly pleasant; a nice easy gradient with grass underfoot.

Looking back to Lyreboy ridge:

As the ground began to steepen, I met three other walkers who were considering turning back due to the conditions. When they heard I was heading to the top, they decided to continue on.

Into the clag, ascending Caher West Top:

Ascending Caher West Top:

On reaching the summit of Caher West Top, I assumed I knew which way to go but decided to take a bearing anyway. I am glad that I did as had I not, I would have been heading off in the wrong direction!

Howff/cairn at the summit of Caher West Top:

At the summit of Caher West Top:

At the summit of Caher West Top, I said goodbye to the group of three who did not want to proceed any further given the conditions. The group of five that I had met earlier in the day also turned back at Caher West Top.

I continued on hoping to at least reach Caher which was only a short distance away. The initial descent off Caher West Top was steep but not difficult. The path is fairly close to the edge in places, so I took care with every step.

Looking back to Caher West Top:

Beyond the col, the ascent of Caher was very easy.

Ascending Caher:

Approaching the summit of Caher:

On reaching the summit of Caher, which was my intended destination, I opted to continue on along the ridge to see if I could get as far as Carrauntoohil. If the weather improved, I was also keen to complete the Coomloughra Horsehoe by heading along the Beenkeragh ridge.

On the ridge between Caher and Carrauntoohil:

The ridge between Caher and Carrauntoohil was straight-forward; similar in difficulty and exposure to the Glen Shiel ridges back home.

On the ridge between Caher and Carrauntoohil:

Sheep on the ridge:

On the ridge between Caher and Carrauntoohil:

Beyond the col between Caher and Carrauntoohil, it was a nice gentle walk to reach the summit of Carrauntoohil.

Ascending Carrauntoohil:

Despite the fairly inclement weather, there were a good number of people at the summit of Carrauntoohil. All would appear to have ascended from Hag's Glen and all appeared to also be returning that way.

At the summit of Carrauntoohil:

Carrauntoohil Cross:

Carrauntoohil summit shelter:

From the summit of Carrauntoohil, I descended a short distance to check out the Beenkeragh ridge. As the wind speed had been increasing throughout the walk, the rocks were very wet and visibility was almost zero, I opted to return back to the start via Caher and Caher West Top. This would involve some re-ascent but at least I knew what lay ahead.

By the time I reached Caher West Top, I was being blasted by strong gusts of wind. My decision to avoid the Beenkeragh ridge was good.

After descending a few hundred metres, I dropped out of the clouds and could see more than just clag.

Descent from Caher West Top:

Cloud level rising since morning but still below tops:

Steep track down to the car park:

I am hoping the weather tomorrow is going to be much better than today as I would really like to have a good day on the Reeks. Fingers crossed.