Go Walk: Galtees, Co Cork
Springtime in the Galtees: a long overdue walk in the snow in Tipperary
I d on’t know why it should be the case, but it is. After 25 years of hillwalking and innumerable February expeditions to Scotland I still yearn, come November, for the winter whiteness on my local mountains. “Snow on the Galtees” is the whisper that is immediately guaranteed to send my pulse soaring at the magical prospect of winter days snow-booting our highest inland range.
My heart rate has, however, remained unusually stable this year for it was technically springtime before my nearest and dearest mountains fully donned their proper wintertime coat. Soon after, on a crisp spring morning finds me heading, bright-eyed with expectation, towards Ireland’s only inland 3,000ft peak.
From my parking place (see panel) I follow a laneway through two gates to open mountainside. Here, I tag upwards along the Black Road, a convenient high-level entry point to the Galtee heartlands. Today, it could more accurately be described as the “White Road” for it weaves an enchanted path through fresh snow before petering out in the emptiness of the high Galtee moorlands.
Here, I head up the eye-watering east face of Galtybeg. These efforts prove worthwhile for this would be a rare day this winter when I would not be viewing clouds from inside. Emerging above the perfect teardrop-shaped Boreen Lough and sashaying along the ice-crusted Galtybeg Ridge, I am immediately rewarded with great views over Aherlow, Slievenamuck and the Silvermine Mountains away to the north.
A short descent from Galtybeg leads to a col, the most straightforward route to Galtymore’s summit and today frozen into walker-friendly crispness. Ploughing up through knee-high snow makes the ascent a real thigh-burner and it is with relief that I attain the flat-topped high point of the Galtee range, knowing the day’s hardest work is now behind.
Galtymore bears a Celtic cross, painstakingly erected by Tipperary man Ted Kavanagh in 1975. It is the fourth such cross to grace the highest point in both Tipperary and Limerick and offers perhaps the most stunning view in the south of Ireland. Today I am in luck, for insanely attractive views extend from the snow-draped Wicklow Mountains to the east to the unmistakably perfect symmetry of Carrauntoohil’s delicate summit to the west. Descending, I cros Galtymore’s west summit before dropping southwest to cross a broad plateau. Then an expansive spur that descends roughly southeast leads me downhill to a confluence of streams. Crossing both, I proceed along a distinct track that initially skirts woodland before striking out across open moorland to rejoin the Black Road about 400m beyond the previously encountered second gate. From here I retrace my steps to the car park.
Start point Leave the M8 at junction 11 and take the old N8 towards Mitchelstown. Just north of Skeheenarinky village, a finger sign for Galtymore climb points right. Follow this to reach a small car park. Time Allow four hours.
Suitability A challenging walk to a high summit, often windy and extremely cold, so be equipped with warm clothing and raingear. Return from the end of the Black Road if unsure of the route. Map OSi, Discovery Series sheet 74