Go Walk: Curraghmore, Co Kerry
On the Lonely Reek, the cloud really does have a silver lining
Curraghmore: view to the north from the top of the Lack Road. Photograph: Tony Doherty
Curraghmore, ‘The Lonely Reek’, Co Kerry
Map: OSI Discovery Series. Sheet 78. Grid Reference: V 770 859.
The two great ridge walks on the Macgillycuddy Reeks, ‘The Circuit of The Hag’s Glen’ and ‘The Coomloughra Horseshoe’, between them encompass all but two of the summits of this great massif. Lying to the south of Cathair (1001m) lies the lonely peak of Curraghmore (822m). From the ridge its rounded summit does not look like a worthwhile diversion if your main focus is on completing the Horseshoe, widely regarded as one of the finest ridge walks on these islands. But targeting Curraghmore as your main objective will provide a most satisfying ramble while gaining a new perspective on the Reeks.
If you decide to tackle it when the days are short you will have the advantage that, as it is at the south west corner of the range, you will have good light. I climbed it on a day in November which promised to have clear blue skies but by the time I started walking a layer of silvery alto cumulus cloud had formed through which the low winter sun appeared as a misshapen blur of a brighter hue. I was disappointed initially but the atmospheric conditions which developed added an exotic dimension to the venture.
Walking in by Lough Acoose the darkened profiles of the surrounding hills were mirrored in its still waters. Once past the last farmhouse I was on the stony surface of the Lack Road, a drover’s path over a col that was used by residents of the upper Caragh and Black valleys to get to Killorglin. As this section is part of The Kerry Way, the zig zag path up to the col is well marked. Winding one’s way up the steep rocky path one couldn’t but have respect for the hardy folk who drove cattle and sheep on it.
From the col the route to the summit is over boggy ground well dotted with rock outcrops. For the most part you can follow the fence but there is one part where you will have to bear off to the left for a short distance. As I climbed higher, the atmospheric magic of the day asserted itself. Narrow necklaces of ragged mist were draped across the middle slopes of the mountains, appearing and disappearing as if by magic for there was no wind to hurry them along. The lakes below me were like polished plates of pewter. Once, my route became hazed in mist and as it drifted past a gap opened in the frieze and through a tunnel of grey I caught a shaft of sunlight highlighting the surf crashing on the gleaming sands of Inch Beach twenty kilometres to the north west.
I lingered on the silent summit, enjoying the views of the serrated ridges with wraiths of mist winding around their pinnacles, Curraghmore tarn lay burnished beneath me and ahead, guarding the entrance to the Black Valley, loomed the formidable peaks of Beenaunmore and Brassel Mountain. Then I happily retraced my steps.