Highpointeering in West Galway

Patrick O’Brien tells us about the third and final day of Highpointeering for the mid-term break, this time logging 7 High Points in west Galway.


Unique visits to High Points require some extra planning and effort now because we have exhausted all High Points within a 1 hour drive of home. The High Point Ireland locations map is ideal for such planning and a quick look at it last week revealed a cluster of possible High Points in West Galway. The plans were to start as far west as we could go, to log Gorumna Island and then work around clockwise to Galway City Council’s High Point at Barnacranny Hill on the edge of the city.

Apart from the long drive, and the Galway morning traffic, getting to Gorumna Island was easy and absolutely spectacular with views in all directions including The Maumturks and the Twelve Bens.

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Gorumna Island has two equal High Points so we logged both south and north which are just a few kilometres apart by road. The north location is around 100m across rock from the road without any climbing required while the south High Point is on top of a small hill about 50m higher than where we parked the car. The reservoir is a great locator for this one.

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We quickly set off for Lettermore Island, parking outside a house following directions from Google Maps this time. We could see a vague path in the direction of the High Point and started the gentle climb for the summit. The going was quite wet in places so be prepared for that, but we could soon see we were almost there with the Trig and cross now in view. Great views all around again here including back to Gorumna Island where we just came from including the narrow bridge that we had just driven across. We logged the 117m High Point and took plenty of pictures before making our way back down to the car.

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Cnoc Mordáin was next on our list and we all thought “354m, sure how hard could it be?” Well don’t be fooled by the mere height like we were, the conditions were tough, very wet underfoot and even though we aimed for a low coll initially we seemed to veer right meaning we had a sharper accent than we intended. Furthermore the sight of a trig pillar on the horizon got us all excited and we made for it as fast as we could. We could see we had made a mistake by being so eager when we opened Peakhunter to log the High Point though. According to Peakhunter the High Point was off to the left a few minutes away so we had to make our way across the boggy surface to log it. We took pictures of the Trig Pillar anyway, it is NOVEMBER TRIG WALKS month after all #NovemberTrigWalk. The descent was time consuming also because we had to be careful again with the very wet ground with springs seeming to erupt everywhere and anywhere on the grassy terrain we were crossing. Two hours for the 4 KM round trip, we finally returned to the car at an old farmyard near Lough Aconeera. This is a short distance from the R340 on a tiny road up towards the lake. On the day we were not able to ask anyone about access through the fields at the base of the mountain but we did meet a few farmers herding animals as we drove away and they seemed pleasant and not bothered that we were in the area.

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We changed our boots and had some food before following Google maps to what seemed to be a junction between two farms just off the R336 at the base of Knocknasilloge. Somebody was looking after the weather for us because for the twenty minutes or so traveling time in the car it lashed rain and now once we arrived ready for the next climb the sun was shining again. We had to walk through a sheep pen to gain access through a small gate to the open mountain. Again there was no one around to ask permission about access.

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The surface here was also wet in places but nothing as bad as Cnoc Mordáin which was a welcome improvement. We took a direct line for the summit keeping a close eye on Peakhunter this time to ensure we wasted no time going in the wrong direction. A twin top, not visible from our approach meant we had to drop a bit before the final climb to the summit of 346m. There was a trig at the High Point, our third today for #NovemberTrigWalk.

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There were some amazing views. I took some pictures before been urged to get going as we had more on the schedule! Josephine estimated that we should be back at the car in 20 minutes! We didn’t believe her but sure enough she wasn’t too far wrong as we were on the road again in 25 minutes.

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Shannavara was next and at 358m was going to be the highest of the day but only slightly higher than the earlier ones. As the crow flies Shannavara is not too far from Knocknasilloge but by road we had to go to Maam Cross, go left on the N59 and then take a left again to go around Oorid Lough until the road ended at a farmyard facing Shannavara. A quick chat with the lady at the farmhouse and we had permission to walk through the farmyard and the few fields onto the mountain beginning the climb almost immediately. Parts were quite wet again but as the sun was starting to set the views were spectacular once again. We made our way to the top identifying the correct spot with Peakhunter as there was no other mark in the area. We waited for the sun to set for a few pictures and set off to try and be down before real darkness fell. Because of the steepness and the wet ground it was tough to stay standing at times on the descent. Our round trip from the farm yard took just over 1.5 hours covering 4Km.

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We faced for home but a quick detour just outside Galway brought us to a spot where we could log Galway City Council’s High Point at Barnacranny Hill and taking a quick selfie we were back in the cars and heading for home again. Barnacranny Hill has a West and an East location but we decided to leave the East one for another day as it was in rough ground and not suitable to go searching for it in the dark.

Great to log 7 High Points after travelling such a distance. We learned a few lessons from the day, first don’t underestimate a mountain by its height and second keep checking that you are actually going where you intended.

Check Dillon’s Blog for more pictures and for his take on the day;

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