MacGillycuddy's Reeks Traverse

  • Cnoc na Tionne and Cnoc an Chuillin from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy
  • East along Reeks from Bro O"shea - © William Mackesy
  • South from high ridge - © William Mackesy
  • Ridge toward Caher - © William Mackesy
  • South from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy
  • Ridge toward Caher - © William Mackesy
  • Caher from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy
  • Main ascent from near Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • Cnoc na Tionne from summit - © William Mackesy
  • Descent to Cnoc na Tionne - © William Mackesy
  • looking south - © William Mackesy
  • South-west from saddle - © William Mackesy
  • South-west from saddle - © William Mackesy
  • Hag"s Glen from Cnoc na Tionne - © William Mackesy
  • South from Cnoc na Tionne - © William Mackesy

Key information: MacGillycuddy's Reeks Traverse

  • Probably the finest walk in Ireland, traversing its highest mountains and most famous walking area.
  • Walk along the high ridge of this line of green-brown hills, its ramparts a series of long grassy slopes and crags, nestling dramatic cirques, lakes and tarns.
  • Huge and knee-weakeningly lovely views.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating88.5
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest15.5
  • Human interest8
  • Charisma33
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating88.5
  • Note: Neg: likely bad weather

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 26km
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,040m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

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Caher from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

The highest mountains in Ireland, and the country’s most famous walking area, are a small massif – essentially one ridge and its offshoots – at the eastern end of the Iveragh Peninsula; a long line of green-brown craggy hills rising near Lough Leane near Killarney in the east, and running some 10km (as the crow flies) to the Caragh valley in the west.

This really is an outstandingly beautiful area: the Reeks’ ramparts are, from the north especially, a series of long grassy slopes and crags, nestling dramatic cirques, lakes and tarns; at the heart of the range are the forbidding pinnacle and dark 2,000+ ft cliffs of Carrauntoohil the dramatic spires, cliffs and crags of its immediate neighbours.  

The traverse of the Reeks ridge is probably Ireland’s finest walk, winding along the high ridge of the entire range for some 26km and taking in 8 of Ireland’s 10 highest mountains. It is a tough walk, for the fit and experienced only.

Travelling east to west, you start near the Gap of Dunloe, climbing steeply up Drishana to the west to gain the beginnings of the ridge. Hence it is north to Cnoc na dTarbh and Cnoc na Bhriac (713m) on the main ridge. Thence you yomp westward, gaining height in at times rough steps, along the ridge across Cruach Mhor (932m), where the drama intensifies as the ridge narrows and steepens and loughans appear below. Onward are Big Gun, Maolan Bui (at 973m), Cnoc na Chuillin, before you drop to Cnoc na Toinne, above the Zig-zags.

Then it is down to the gap above the Devil’s Staircase and on up Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain.

Thence you take the amazing ridge walk to Caher, Ireland’s third highest peak, and continue either south to Curraghmore, with a long, steady if rough, descent to the Lack Road to the south-west, or on westward along the main Reeks ridge.

An outstanding if tiring walk – all but the fittest will be in pain by the end.

See our MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Iveragh Peninsula page for more general and practical information and photos.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

South from Carrauntoohil summit - © William Mackesy

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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East along Reeks from Bro O'shea - © William Mackesy...
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