Tipperary’s Silvermine Mountains are low on some hill walkers “to do” lists mainly due to gloomy stories of occasional clouds of toxic dust-blow and cattle dying of lead poisoning. However remedial works are well under way and, with Coillte playing its part with regard to access, this little massif should be bumped up the list forthwith.
Access to the ridge is via the Knockanroe Wood Loop which provides a decent track through the dense plantation. Take the outward leg of the Loop which drops down to 300 metres through the forest before heading up in a north-westerly direction on a pleasant track with high banks of purple heather and with pleasant views on the left down the Mulkear Valley.
The top of the forest track intersects with the east-west running summit ridge. This crest is defined by a well-worn path and the walk westward on dry springy peat makes for easy going and a swift ascent to spot height 489m, the highest point on the range.
Rarely is such a view gained for so little effort. The rich arable lowlands stretch away towards Lough Derg and you can see its entire length from the Arra Mountains up to Portumna. Below you have a clear view of the abandoned mine workings with their tailing ponds.
To the south, the steep slopes of Keeper Hill (694m) are streaked with erosion scars and ripples in the soil indicating that the loose material is on the move exposing the underlying rock to renewed erosion – yet another stage in the eventual destruction of the peak.
I continued on to spot height 460m, which is marked by a stone cairn. Here I had an “I am King of the World” moment such was the extent of the panorama, stretching from the Slieve Bloom Mountains, around to the hills of Clare and across the Shannon Estuary to the northern slopes of the Cork and Kerry mountains.
On the return trip, the view was more circumscribed but nonetheless attractive for all that with the rich woodlands in the valley below and mysterious hills that I could not identify away to the east.
I continued on to spot height 470m, which is reached by a broad track after which the return leg of the loop plunges back into the forest via a fire-break which was quite muddy at the start. Once again I felt vindicated in my view that whereas you can climb Carrauntoohil without gaiters, woe betides you if you don’t pop them in your rucksack when heading out on a loop walk.