Walk: Crohane Mountain, Co Kerry
Map: Ordnance Survey. Discovery Series. Sheet 79
An old friend of mine was fond of saying that we sneered at following paths when we were young as we considered using them to be soft-option climbing, but in our dotage we eagerly sought them out in order to ease our passage over rough ground. He would have approved of the route up the northern inclines of Crohane Mountain (650m), with its track cutting through rough ground and leggy heather to bring walkers comfortably on to the easier ground of the upper slopes.
The relaxed going allows time to enjoy the luscious view of mountains, lakes and sea that stretch away to the west, from the brooding bulk of the volcanic Beenaunmore, across the rump of Mangerton to the southern slopes of the Reeks, the elegant outline of Slieve Mish framing the background. The whole scene is enlivened by the vivid blue waters of Lough Guitane, Lough Leane and Dingle Bay and the multi-hued fields of the North Kerry Plain.
The track peters out as the terrain changes to open moorland. A short tack to the left will bring you on to the spine of the spur that leads to the summit. A helpful fence, thankfully not topped with barbed wire, will guide you. About half way up veer off towards a large outcrop just below the summit ridge.
From here the view to the east is dominated by the twin peaks of the Paps Mountains. The crest of Crohane is a mini version of the long narrow ridges of the Reeks. Head west past the summit and perch on a crag overlooking the primeval vista to the south. The contrast with the view to the west couldn’t be greater.
Here you have a landscape fashioned by earth movements and volcanic activity, then ravaged by the processes of glacial erosion to create great ridges of bare rock interspersed with bleak boggy hollows.
Your perch is high enough to look down on Beenaunmore (454m), the remnant of a great volcano that would have once dominated this massif. The upper cliffs of its eastern side are known as Kerry’s “Giant’s Causeway” as they are formed by vertical columns of rhyolite. While Ulster’s basalt columns are hexagonal, the lava flows here solidified to form pentagonal pillars as is evidenced by fragments found on the great scree slopes that drop down into the Nabroda gorge beneath.
If you were of a mind to inspect them you could descend the southeast spur and exit down a gully clothed in a delightful grove of birch and rowan trees, which cascade out into the lowlands around Lough Guitane.
You could then take the track beside the lake to return to your car. It was a gloriously hot day and I was not tempted to such exertion as that deep cleft would be a furnace, so I sat in the northerly breeze and let my mind wander down the aeons before retracing my tracks.