Four Peaks 2016 Challenge Walks

Liz O’Callaghan and Donal O’Leary Complete Four Peaks Challenge 2016

Congratulations to Liz and Donal who climbed the highest mountain in all the four provinces. Out of many members who participated in the 2016 Four Peaks Challenge Liz and Donal were the only two who completed all four challenges. A large number participated in the Mweelrea challenge but due to horrendous weather conditions were forced to turn back before reaching the summit. 

Complete the Four Peaks 2016 Challenge by climbing the highest mountain in each of the four provinces:

The Four Peaks Challenge Award will be presented to each member who is successful in climbing all four peaks. The presentations will take place at the club’s Christmas Party/ Dinner in December 2016.

The first peak is Carrauntoohil at 1,038 metres (3,406 feet) Ireland’s highest mountain and a worthy challenge for any Backpacker. This challenge takes place on the March 13th.

The second peak challenge is Mweelrea (814 metres), Connaught’s highest mountain.  This takes place during the Easter Weekend (March 26, 27th and 28th).  The club is spending the weekend at the Leenane Hotel in Leenane, Co. Galway very close to Mweelrea.

The third peak challenge is Lugnaquilla 925 metres (3,305 feet) lies in the Wicklow Mountains. Backpacker members will be able to climb Leinster’s highest mountain during the summer on a date to be finalised.

Slieve Donard (850 metres) Northern Ireland’s highest mountain is the final challenge and is provisionally slotted in for September.

To register for the Four Peaks Challenge send an e-mail to with the subject “Four Peak Challenge” and your name, mobile number and e-mail address.

Carrauntoohil (1038m)


Carrauntoohil (Irish Corrán Tuathail) is the highest peak in Ireland and the first of the Four Peaks 2016 Challenge Walks. Located in County Kerry, it is 1,038 metres (3,406 ft) high and is the central peak of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks range. The ridge northward leads to Ireland’s second-highest peak, Beenkeragh (1,010 m). In addition the ridge westward leads to the third-highest peak, Caher (1,001 m). Carrauntoohil overlooks three bowl-shaped valleys, each with its own lakes. To the east is Hag’s Glen or Coomcallee (Com Caillí, “hollow of the Cailleach”), to the west is Coomloughra (Com Luachra, “hollow of the rushes”) and to the south is Curragh More (Currach Mór, “great marsh”).

A steel Christian cross, 5 metres (16 ft) tall, was erected on the summit in 1976. On November 21st a gang of unknown vandals cut down the cross. A team of volunteer re-erected the cross on Saturday, Nov. 29.

The Scottish Mountaineering Club classify Carrauntoohil as a Furth by, i.e. a three thousander footer furth or “outside of” Scotland.  As a result hikers sometimes refer to it to as one of the Irish Munros. The mountain is most often climbed from the north-east, along the Hag’s Glen and up the steep Devil’s Ladder to the col between Carrauntoohil and Cnoc na Toinne, and then north-west to the summit. The route has become more dangerous in recent years due to loose stones and crowding. No special equipment is needed to climb the mountain, but caution is advised. Alternatively, one can walk the two other 1,000 m peaks in a “horseshoe” trip, starting from the west. The traverse from highest point to the second highest involves a light scramble.

Mweelrea (814 metres)

Mweelrea (from Irish Cnoc Maol Réidh, meaning “smooth bald hill”) is a mountain in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland and the second in the Four Peaks 2016 Challenge.  With a height of 814 metres (2,670 feet), it is the highest point in the province of Connacht and the 34th highest in Ireland. The mountain overlooks Killary Harbour.

Four Peaks 2016 Challenge Mweelrea

The sun catches Mweealrea

Mweelrea is a mountain overlooking the Atlantic coast, and as weather conditions can change very rapidly this poses particular challenges for inexperienced climbers. From the east the mountain is well protected by outlying ridges and boggy ground as well as a cliff line to the east of the main summit. The easiest ascent is probably by starting on the coast to the west of the mountain and ascending gentle slopes, but even from this side climbers need to navigate carefully as cloud or mist can obscure the summit very rapidly. Access across land/farms may be a problem from this side however so climbers need to consult with local landowners before entering land there. The summit does provide stunning views of the surrounding area, including views of County Galway and Mayo, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Lugnaquilla (925 metres)

Lugnaquilla (from Irish: Log na Coille, meaning “hollow of the wood”) is a 925-metre (3,035 ft) tall mountain in County Wicklow, Ireland.  It is the third in the Four Peaks 2016 Challenge Walks.

Four Peaks 2016 Challenge Lugnaquilla

Lugnaquilla appears as the trail crests the saddle between Lugduff and Mullacor

It is the highest peak of the Wicklow Mountains range, the highest in the province of Leinster, and the 13th highest peak in all Ireland. Informally referred to as one of the Irish Munroe, it is classed as a Furth by the Scottish Mountaineering Club.
Views, on a clear day, extend east across the Irish Sea to the hills of the Llŷn Peninsula and mountains of Snowdonia in Wales, and west to the mountains of Munster.

Its proximity to Dublin ensures that Lugnaquilla is a popular mountain for hillwalkers. The three popular approaches are from Fenton’s Pub in the Glen of Imaal, Glenmalure and Aghavannagh.  The shortest direct route from the Glen of Imaal via Camara Hill skirts the military artillery range. Lugnaquilla is a bulky mountain, with a large plateau-type summit. On two sides of the mountain there are by steep glacial corries – the names of which are “North Prison” and “South Prison”.

Slieve Donard (850 metres)

Four Peaks 2016 slieve-donard

The great wall on the Mourne Mountains

Slieve Donard; from Irish: Sliabh Dónairt, meaning “Dónairt’s mountain”) is an 850-metre (2,790 ft) mountain in County Down, Northern Ireland. Slieve Donard is the the final of the Four Peaks 2016 Challenge walks. Part of the Mourne Mountains, it is the highest peak in Northern Ireland and in the wider province of Ulster. It is also the 19th highest peak on the island of Ireland. Slieve Donard sits near the town of Newcastle on the eastern coast of County Down.

The Mourne Wall – built in the early 20th century – runs up the western and southern slopes of the mountain. The wall joins a small stone tower at the summit. Also on the summit are the remains of two prehistoric burial cairns. One of the cairns is the remains of the highest passage tomb in Ireland.

In Irish mythology the mountain is associated with, and gets its name from the mythical figures Boirche and Slángha. It was later associated with, and named after, Saint Donard, who was said to have made the summit his hermitage. Up until the 1830s, people would climb the mountain as part of a yearly pilgrimage, which may have originally been a Lughnasadh ritual. Royal Engineers camped on the summit for four months in 1826 as part of the Ordnance Survey’s Principal Triangulation. The Four Peaks Challenge gives members the opportunity to have an incredible experience by climbing the highest mountain in each of the four provinces.

New Walkers are welcome to join us for a trial hill walk. You can by sign up online or in person at Counihan’s Pub, Pembroke Street, Cork on Wednesday’s from 9.00pm.