(Words and photos submitted by Patrick O’Brien)
On hearing about Ireland High Points Week, I knew it was something Dillon and I would have to mark by completing a visit to at least one Gribbon location over the week. The perfect excuse to get us out on the hills! The fact that the week was centered on 21st June, the longest day of the year, interested me even further as I always try to get outside for that day either early in the morning, late in the evening, or both if possible.
I had a look at the Gribbon locations around the area and we are lucky to have 8 within reach of us:
Closer to Ireland High Points Week it became apparent that a bit of planning was needed due to a busy schedule. School was still on, Karate was at a peak due to upcoming competitions and we were preparing for holidays that were happening towards the end of Ireland High Points Week.
I was delighted to see that Ireland High Points Week didn’t start until 18th June as we were due to be in Dublin on the 17th for CoderDojo Coolest Projects. That night, I put some kind of plan down for the early part of the week at least.
Day 1. Early on Sunday morning we set off for Galtymore Mountain via The Black Road. Accompanied by Rachel, we were walking by 8am and already there was activity and preparation underway for the yearly MS charity walk. The weather was ideal for walking with great views far and beyond, lakes, other mountains, some friendly livestock and colourful Rhododendrons. The summit of Galtymore was very clear and there was plenty of company up there due to the MS charity walk. We were delighted to meet Dylan Ryan, another young hiker from Co. Clare out walking with his Dad. We also met Paddy O’Donoghue and his wife who were helping out for the MS charity walk. There was plenty of chat about mountains and walks over lunch on the mountaintop. The walk down went pretty fast, meeting plenty other MS walkers and we were home in Kildorrery in time for Father’s Day dinner.
Day 2 was a Monday, a school day and a work day so we didn’t have the comfort of the entire day for our next Gribbon location, Knockmealdown. However we had the long days and good weather on our side and we had a bit of a short cut in mind for the decent. We set off from Baylough Car Park, crossing the road to climb Sugar Loaf Hill just after seven pm on Monday 19th June. The climb to the top of Sugar Loaf Hill should not be underestimated as it is quite steep and is a bit rocky at times. This does mean plenty of stops and as a result a chance to look around at the great views of Baylough and the Galty Mountains. Once on top of Sugar Loaf Hill it’s a right turn for Knockmealdown continuing to use the wall dividing Tipperary and Waterford as a guide but unfortunately you need to drop down again before starting the final climb for Waterford’s highest point. We enjoyed the walk and the weather for the evening was fantastic giving us clear views all around from the summit. The Galty Mountains, Clonmel, Cahir, Dungarvan, Helvic Head, Slievenamon, Mount Melleray, the River Blackwater and much more were all visible to us.
And when we turned for home, we were treated to a wonderful show of the Sun setting beyond the Galty Mountains. We skirted around Sugar Loaf Hill on our decent which saved some climbing and some time. We were safe back to the car just after 10pm.
Day 3 was our closest Gribbon location, Seefin Mountain, and we decided not to take our usual route up. This time we parked in the Ballyhoura bike track car park and made our way up to the base of Blackrock using mountain bike trails that are only used for specific events. We were amazed with the steepness and level of muck involved for the competitors, fair play to them. This brought us pretty close to the new boardwalk section that brings you across the boggy section to the summit of Seefin Mountain. We had good views again including most of Limerick, Castleoliver, Kildorrery and the new wind turbines nearby. We made our way down a different but again steep mountain bike trail to the car park.
Day 4, the longest day of the year, saw us over in the nearby Nagle Mountains to climb Knocknaskagh. This is a short walk and not too steep, this time we made it up and back within the hour with a bit of time at the top discovering different paths and routes. No spectacular sunset for 21st June as the weather was a bit cloudy.
Day 5, was not too far from us again, over near the village of Glenbrohane, and starting our walk at the base of two wind turbines that are visible for miles around. Our Gribbon location for today was Slievereagh, a peak with a trig point and a book to mark your visit. Even though there is a telephone mast and associated buildings at the top, there are still great views all around from this one.
Day 6, our holidays had arrived at last and we were staying in Dublin for the night before heading to Portrush the following day. Meakstown, the highest point in Dublin City Council, was an unusual but handy one for us to mark Ireland High Points Week today. Unfortunately, our attempt was slightly out as we followed the 6-digit grid reference from Kieron Gribbon’s book rather than the map on his High Point Ireland website which shows the Gribbon locations much more precisely. Based on Kieron’s studies of the Dublin City Council Development Plan, the high point is at the junction of St Margaret’s Road and Jamestown Road.
Day 7, on route to Portrush we were passing close to Slieve Gullion and that was our Gribbon location of choice to close out Ireland High Points Week. Great to have Rachel walk this one with us as well. Fantastic views once again and unlike our first visit here for the County High Point Challenge we took a bit of time to look at the passage tomb at the summit.
It was great to mark the first ever Ireland High Points Week and we were delighted to mark it by visiting a different Gribbon location each day. We are looking forward to next year already.