Climbing Mount Errigal is like fast forwarding through a relationship! The start is slow and you’re not always sure if you did the right thing getting yourself into it but you stick with it for a while, in the hope that it’s heading in the right direction. Once you get past that initial awkward (and very boggy!) stage the future is looking brighter. You’re into it now, you’ve invested and you’re excited to see what lies ahead. There are a few steep and tough humps to get over along the way, like meeting the parents or finding out your partner loves to pop your bacne but you’ve lasted the distance and the big day (or summit) is now in sight.
You finally get there! You’re exhilarated and it takes your breath away but all too soon you realise that’s not the end goal. There’s a second summit just a short distance away and now the only thing people care about is whether you’re going to make it to that one too! Once you’ve done that, you can relax and smell the roses for a while until you start the slow descent to the bottom again. You’ll notice a few aches and pains that weren’t there before and the curse words might be flowing a bit more regularly but you’ll be damn glad you did it!
Good to know
We had read that the initial stage of the walk was boggy and it really is! It makes the start a bit of a slog but keep going, it’s well worth the effort. I don’t think there is any way to avoid it, though we did find it less boggy on the way down having followed some other walkers further to the right of the stream, as you can see on the map below. So just go for it and do the best you can not to get knee-deep in it! We passed a group of guys wearing wellies and as useful as that would be for the start, it would not make for a very comfortable climb. Others were just in sneakers and caked in mud.
As you can see from the photos, even José’s ankle boots didn’t save him, so he was a bit uncomfortable and wet for a while. So if you don’t fancy muddy feet you might want to wear some gaiters for the start and finish. We saw people rinsing theirs off in the stream afterwards. The scree can be a bit tough on the way down too, so poles would be useful for those who have difficulty on such terrain.
There is plenty of parking in the carpark off the R251, just a couple of kilometres from Dunlewy and from here you will start your ascent of Mount Errigal.
At 751m, Mt Errigal is the tallest peak of the Derryveagh mountains and Donegal’s highest peak. The distance from the carpark to the summit and return was approx 4.7km.
Most people with a moderate degree of fitness will probably complete the climb in 2.5 – 3 hours. Allow extra time to soak up the amazing views on a clear day. We took well over 4hrs to finish, stopping often for photos, enjoying the summit views and chatting to people along the way.
Click on the images to enlarge