Hiking on Mount Brandon

photo by Loz Flowers

Dingle Peninsula, the northernmost peninsula of the enchanting Co Kerry, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. Whoever wants a taste of the real Ireland, with its small villages, windswept coasts, jagged cliffs and gently rolling hills can travel to Dingle with the assurance that they will be met by one of the most picturesque corners of the earth. And in the middle of this picture-perfect scenery looms Mount Brandon, the highest peak of an unnamed mountain range at the center of Dingle Peninsula. As the ninth tallest peak in Ireland, Mount Brandon would be certainly worth the consideration even if it wasn’t located on the peninsula. But with such lovely views, who could resist hiking on Mount Brandon?

About Mount Brandon

The name of the mountain comes from Saint Brendan, the Navigator, who supposedly climbed to the top of the mountain in the 6th century AD hoping to see the Americas before sailing away towards them. The small village of Brandon lies at the foot of the mountain, and at the top you can find the ruins of a small chapel in the shape of a beehive which is thought to have been built by the saint.

Pilgrimage to Mount Brandon

photo by Loz Flowers on Flickr

Because of its strong associations with Saint Brendan, Mount Brandon is a famous pilgrimage destination for Irish Catholics. Thanks to its popularity, the routes taken by the pilgrims are marked with white crosses, so if you follow the signs it is impossible to get lost on the mountain. Every Easter, the locals both old and young follow the stations of the cross up the mountain for a celebration.

Hiking

Before hiking up Mount Brandon, make sure to check the weather. Seeing as the mountains is close to the coast, the weather tends to be very changeable, and the last thing you want is to be caught by a storm at the top of the peak. On clear days, from the summit you get spectacular views of the west coast and the ocean. There are several routes going up the mountain, and two of them are very well traveled, although an experienced hiker in search of a challenge might prefer to go off the beaten path. The Pilgrim’s Path is one the most scenic routes to the top, and it starts at the carpark near Faha Grotto. The Saint’ Road is an easier trails, but just as picturesque. It starts at An Baile Breac and continues towards west.

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