Hiking to Eagle’s Rock in the Glenade Valley was a must-do on my list for our recent trip to Leitrim. It hadn’t been the best of days for us weather-wise but as we headed for Eagle’s Rock the blue sky reappeared. It was getting late in the day and having shaken off the clouds, the sun was now casting some beautiful golden light over the Dartry mountains as we approached. Given that these mountains are some of the most remarkable looking in the country anyway, the views were really quite breathtaking.
There were two rams guarding the carpark as we arrived but we seemed to meet with their approval and they slowly cleared the road so we could pull in. From the carpark you can’t miss the impressive Eagle’s Rock standing proud – it does look rather phallic from certain angles, let’s be honest! – in the distance.
At 330m tall, Eagle’s Rock is the highest free-standing rock tower in Ireland. You would imagine that would make it very attractive to adventurers and climbers. Surprisingly on a nice summer’s evening we were the only ones in the carpark, though we did meet one other person along the way. I couldn’t help but think that if this rock formation was located on one of the more common tourist trails, it would have been packed. Selfishly, I was glad it wasn’t!
We definitely had no intention of attempting to climb the actual tower itself, something that you would want to be well equipped and well qualified for. According to this article by Unique Ascent, Eagle’s Rock has only be climbed twice, first in 1971 and then in 2012. We were more than happy to just get up closer to check it out!
The walk is not long, being around 3km but it is challenging. Starting from the large signpost in the carpark, continue to follow the road as it curves upwards around the bend. You’ll see white markings painted on the road showing a lane for walkers and a short distance ahead there is a stile leading you onto a gravel track. The most obvious route would be to head diagonally towards Eagle’s Rock but that route is made up of privately owned fields, separated by barbed wire fencing. So from everything I could find online about this walk, the general consensus is to follow the track up onto the mountainside to about 200m and then make your way along the mountainside towards Eagle’s Rock.
It’s steep and it’s rough going. I definitely had moments when I was felt I was out of my comfort zone and a section were I was clinging on for dear life! José on the other hand was taking it all in his stride. So I guess just take it at your own pace and if you get stuck maybe work your way back a bit and try to find a less steep part to cross. It’s tricky as there is no clear trail once you’re on the mountainside so you’re figuring it out as you go.
We finally made it to the rocky area below the tower were you can really sense of the size of Eagle’s Rock and took some time to sit and drink in the amazing views towards Arroo mountain (I think that’s right but correct me if I’m wrong!) to the north. It was well worth the effort and you can’t beat that sense of achievement and relief when you finally get back to the your starting point safely after scaring the crap out of yourself! Do something each day that scares you right? Well that’ll do me for at least a month I think, thank you!
Where: Glenade Valley, Leitrim
Distance: around 3km
Time: allow 2-3 hours