The Coomloughra Horseshoe, located in the McGillycuddy Reeks is one of Ireland’s classic ridge walks. It has all that hill walking can offer – magnificent views of mountains, lakes and ocean and challenging terrain with a small bit of scrambling and exposure. Perhaps most importantly it gives the opportunity to climb three of Ireland’s highest mountains: Carrauntoohil (1,040metres); Beenkeragh (1,008.2) and Caher (1,001Metres).
This walk should only be attempted by experienced climbers. It is physically demanding and takes in the notoriously exposed Beenkeeragh Ridge. In the winter months the short days mean that hikers must move quickly in order to complete the route in daylight. It can be completed in either direction however many walkers prefer to do it in the clockwise direction in order to gain height quickly on the steep ascent of Skregmore, tackle the major difficulties with plenty of time in hand and give a comfortable descent down the Northwestern spur of Caher.
The Beenkearagh Ridge
Even in the best weather conditions, this route requires mountain experience, care and some careful scrambling on the notoriously exposed and in some places knife-edged Beenkeragh Ridge between Carrauntoohil and Beenkeragh mountains. The Beenkeeragh Ridge itself is a knife-edge in places, and looks down over precipitous drops into both Coomloughra and Cummeenoughter. Although there is a track in places, the exposure is considerable and you will have to scramble at times. This section of the walk, although comparatively short can take up to one hour to navigate.
You should NOT attempt this route in icy or windy conditions and only complete it during daylight hours. Therefore those who undertake this walk should have mountain experience and have reasonable levels of fitness. On a good day however this is one of the most spectacular and exhilarating hill walks in the country. Allow six to seven hours for the complete horseshoe.