Thinking of climbing Galtymore? Well if you’re a fan of stunning views and like a challenge, it’s definitely a great choice.
Galtymore is the highest of the Galtee Mountains, a range that stretches for 30 kms between Tipperary and Limerick. It is also the highest point of both those counties, so you feel twice as good when you reach the top. That’s a fact!
The fabulous views from the summit more than compensate for the effort it takes to get there – on a clear day at least. Though how much effort you need to put in, depends on your route. Like many mountain climbs, you have a number of options when it comes to Galtymore.
Those who know the Galtees very well are probably aware of more possibilities, but here are some well travelled routes I came across when researching for our hike.
The Black Road Route
The most straightforward route to get to the summit is the Black Road Route. It’s a 9 km trail from the south, taking about 3 – 4 hours. On this route you can take in the summit of Galtybeg on your way up too.
This is also known as the ‘tourist route’, so I imagine in peak season, parking may be very hard to come by. So aim to get there early. On Google maps search for Galtyway Climb Car Park.
Kings Yard Route
This is another route from the south. I read somewhere that the views were better this way. I’m not sure if that’s true but that pretty much sold it to me! Let’s face it, if you’re putting in the hard yards then you might as well get the reward.
So this was the route we decided on in the end. We covered just under 11 kms and it took us 6 hours. That included way too many stops for photos and a good break at the top, so it probably more like 4 – 5 hours. You can find King’s Yard on Google maps too and further details about this route below.
Another option is the Galtee Horseshoe route from the north, also known as the Circuit of Glencushnabinnia or Glencushnabinnia Horseshoe. This is a trek of about 13 kms that takes in the summits of Cush, Galtybeg, Galtymore and Slievecushnabinnia, so you’ll have your work cut out for you! Expect this scenic loop to take a good 6 hours or so.
The start point is near the Clydagh bridge, where there’s a forest car park and signs for the climb. On Google maps search for Car Park Galtymore North.
Choosing a Route
The climb from the north is tougher and steeper. So it’s best to go from the south if you prefer a slower, more gradual climb. If you’re unsure about the weather, the shorter route might be a good option.
As always on the mountains, conditions can change rapidly, so be prepared and have adequate gear. The sheer northern slopes can pose a serious danger, particularly in cloudy conditions, so be sure to stay alert and watch your footing.
Once you’ve completed this climb, you’ll probably want to go back for more. The area is spectacularly scenic and I’m keen to try both of the other routes at some stage. If you’ve done any of them, feel free to share your feedback in the comments and let us know how you got on.
Kings Yard is a private farm, which provides services for climbers and walker in the area. It offers a decent number of parking spaces in the farmyard, though it was very busy when we arrived. However we did manage to find a spot eventually.
It also looked like there is a large field available for additional parking with the opportunity to camp too, so this is probably a good option at peak times.
There is a charge for parking. We paid €2 which seems very reasonable. There’s a money box on the wall in the car park where you can pay. It’s nice to know the car is parked in a safe place when you’re heading off for hours and there are toilets here too.
Drinks and snacks are also available for purchase in a small shed too, if needed. I don’t know how often it’s stocked though, so best to bring your own supplies than have to go without.
Time to Get Moving!
Leaving Kings Yard we followed the path past fields of sheep on either side. Cute lambs leaping around and enjoying the sunshine tried to distract us but we managed to regain focus eventually!
The abundance of blooming gorse provided a gorgeous pop of colour as we continued on our way. After passing through two gates and a sheep pen, we had stunning views down into the valley and its surrounding slopes. We couldn’t see Galtymore at this point but taking the slopes to our right would lead us there.
The trail continued along the length of the valley but it seemed like the further you go, the steeper the climb. We may have got that wrong, but seeing people returning from the summit along the slopes above us too, so decided to start heading upwards pretty early on.
There is no clear trail or way markings. We just kept heading upwards diagonally, taking whatever path seemed best at the time. Passing sheep kept us company along the way!
Galtymore in Sight
Once we reached the top of the slope we faced an open expanse. Galtymore was visible in the distance then, so it was pretty clear where we were aiming for. We could make out a few people climbing, like little ants, up to the peak.
Though it looked straight forward enough, getting across this seemingly flat section was probably the toughest part. It’s boggy, with many holes and drops, which requires lots of time looking down and checking your footing.
We were still happily distracted by the views at this point though, so got through it without too much pain! Once we managed that section, the climb up to the summit was pretty straightforward. There is no scree, which is always a bonus and it’s not a very lengthy climb either. There are also nice views down to Lough Curra on your left.
Once you reach the top it’s an easy walk between the twin summits of Galtymore. The plateau between the two summits is known as Dawson’s Table and on it stands a 7ft tall white iron celtic cross. We had made it to the highest point of both Tipperary and Limerick. Not a bad day’s work!
And those views! From the summit you have stunning 360 views over the Munster Vales. In particular, the views out over the Glen of Aherlow to the north are just magnificent. On a clear day it’s even possible to make out the summit of Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, to the west.
We spend some time taking photos, then tucked into our modest sandwiches and snacks. Nearby a group of lads who seemed to have brought up the ingredients for a whole fry, were cooking up a storm. Guess they wanted their Galtee rashers on the Galtee mountains!
Lough Curra and the Famine Wall
Returning from the summit the same way, we diverted slightly towards Lough Curra for a closer look. Lough Curra is just one of several glacial lakes along the north face of the mountains.
With the clouds reflected in its clear waters of lake and the beautiful sunny vales in the background it’s was a really beautiful scene but looking at the sheer drop down into the lake from the mountain slopes could definitely bring on the vertigo.
Walking towards Lough Curra we passed the Galtee Wall. It’s a 3.5 km long drystone wall that was started in the late 1870s and took over four years to build. It separated the two estates that owned the land at the time and was a famine relief project, providing employment for local farmers.
A Slow Return
I won’t lie, our return journey was not so much fun! We were tired and hungry, enthusiasm had waned and it was a long trudge though that boggy ground. The sun had also dipped behind the mountains so there was no light dancing around the valley now to distract us. It also meant we’d better get a move on before it got dark. It was a case of sucking it up and ploughing on!
Of course that was all forgotten as soon as we were back at Kings Yard, patting ourselves on the back for the day’s effort. We met and chatted with the property owner who seemed a really nice guy and asked how we got on. Tired but happy, we eventually hit the road for home.
Verdict: Well Worth It!
The route from Kings Yard is definitely a little challenging. There is no clear trail and much of the ground is boggy and uneven. On the way back down in particular, it really felt like a hard slog at times.
However it’s a pretty straightforward route, so it’s not hard to figure out the direction you need to take. As long as the weather is on your side, there’s no real danger of getting lost.
Overall, we really enjoyed this hike, the views are amazing and it’s definitely one I would do again. Though I think I’ll probably have to try one of the other routes first.