Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Paps East

Date First Walked: August 6th 2009
Range: Derrynasaggart Mountains
Mapsheet: 79
Distance: Circa 8km
Classification: Dillon, Hewitt, Marilyn
Height: 694 metres
County: Kerry
My Dillon Count: 8

One of Ireland’s iconic mountains and it’s easy to see why it cast such a spell on the pre-Christian inhabitants of the area. The mountain was known in Celtic times as Dá Chích Anann which translates as ‘the two breasts of Anu’, Anu being the principal goddess of pre-Christian Ireland. Driving from Mallow to Killarney, it’s easy to see where the mountains got their name consisting as they do of two breast-like peaks with the summit of each marked by a huge ancient stone burial tomb.

I took an early start while on holidays to tackle the Paps. From Killarney, take the Ballyvourney road then take the first turn-off for Clonkeen. This will take you past Clonkeen church and shortly afterwards you need to take the road to the left signposted ‘Clydagh Valley’. Follow this narrow road for just over 2.5 miles after which you will see a laneway/trail to the left surrounded by some farm buildings and some evergreen trees. There is space here to park your car.

Follow the laneway which leads through 3 gates. After the third gate, you will see a firebreak in the trees to the left which you need to follow up the slopes of Paps East. Note that the climb up this firebreak is very steep and extremely wet and slippy in places but it’s only a relatively short climb up to the open slopes of the mountain. Once on the slopes, pick a pathway bearing slightly right up to the summit through heavy heather which can be quite tough going in places. You will pass by the remains of what are probably ancient dwellings on the way up.

As the mist came across the mountain, I had one of those moments where I wondered why I was out of my bed so early in the morning battling my way through heavy heather to the summit of a mountain that looked like it would be covered by mist! After a false top, you can’t fail to spot the massive cairn on the summit which is the higher of the two.

From the first summit, you can head across to the second, western top but make sure not to stray too close to the cliffs that run down to Lough Negeeha. The worsening weather and the low visibility made me decide to give the second Pap a miss until another day so I retraced my steps back to the firebreak. Take care when descending this part as it can be treacherous in places particularly after a wet spell. Once at the bottom of the firebreak, follow the laneway back to your car.

The Paps East

The laneway with Paps East to the left

Me on Paps East
Me in the mist on the summit of Paps East

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