There are five Top 500 Summits in the mid west of Ireland which cluster around Westport. They are
I am indebted to Karl Nelson and his excellent website ‘Get Lost Mountaineering’ for the majority of this section and the pictures below. For a more detailed description of the routes I recommend visiting his website.
This walk is one of the best and toughest mountain walks in Ireland. On a clear day the views are outstanding and include the 12 Bens of Connemara, Maumturk Mountains, the Sheeffry Hills and Croagh Patrick. Some of the islands off the west coast can be seen if there is no sea mist. The mountains are best climbed after a dry spell as there are bogs to traverse on the way up Mweelrea and on the way back the Owennaglogh River has to be crossed.
Both Karl (2018) and myself (2015) started at the Delphi Lodge complex and walked the circuit clockwise therefore climbing Mweelrea first and Ben Lugmore last. The route is as follows;
1 From the Delphi complex, locate the forest trails map and go past the Adventure Centre where a path leads to a forest track. Turn left and follow the yellow markers. This leads through the first forest, descends almost to the river then ascends to behind the second forest. Follow the track until it bends back towards Delphi then take a rough track which ascends to a barbed wire fence. Cross over and cross another barbed wire fence then pass below pt 475, the stream gives a reasonable guide as you ascend to the col between pt 475 and Mweelrea. Ascend the SE ridge then the south ridge to a flat peaty top with a cairn, the summit of Mweelrea.
2 Descend easy slopes to the north to reach a broad col. Ascend the other side on pathless but easy ground to the summit of Ben Bury.
3 Descend SE to reach a broad grassy col with a small cairn and larger cairn further on. Ascend to the west top of Ben Lugmore on a reasonable path.
4 Continue along the crest of the ridge on a good path. The main summit of Ben Lugmore looms ahead and looks formidable but a path finds its way there without difficulty. Continue to a col then ascend to the east top.
5 From the east top follow the crest ENE for about 700m then descend along a SE ridge. Lower down, aim for the east edge of the forest closest to the road and Delphi. Cross the Owennaglogh River just before the forest. Follow the edge of the forest to return to Delphi.
While Barrclashcame is the Top 500 Summit, the walk can be extended to cover the length of the Sheeffry Hills, a total distance of 16km.
1 Park at the small fishing car park about 300m north of the Liscarney turning on the R335 road. This runs from near Leenane to Louisburg.
2 Walk north up the road for 200m until past the trees. Start up the hillside here and gradually slant back, above the trees, to reach the south ridge of Barrclashcame. Once on the ridge, follow it up. It is fairly steep but the ground is good. Eventually the angle eases so walk across the plateau for 1km to reach a small cairn, the summit of Barrclashcame.
3 Either return by the same route or carry on along an interesting and undulating ridge to Tievummera and Tieveebinnia. This route is fully set out on the Get lost Mountaineering website.
Croagh Patrick is Ireland’s Holy Mountain as St Patrick reportedly slept on its summit area. There is now a small chapel on the summit. Croagh Patrick is the most popular mountain in Ireland with hundreds climbing it each day. There is a special day in late July when up to 25,000 people climb the mountain, many as part of a pilgrimage. The path up the mountain is rough and stony, particularly higher up. This is fine for regular hillwalkers but occasional walkers will struggle, a better path would be welcome.
1. Walk out of the top of the car park and follow a tarmac road to the statue of St Patrick. From there follow the rough path up the mountain.
2 About halfway up there is a more level section then the path becomes steeper and picks its way up the side of some scree.
3 Eventually the angle eases and the summit is reached where there is a plaque, a chapel, a large sign and a fenced off area signed as St Patrick’s bed. There is a large cairn denoting the summit.
Nephin is unique amongst British mountain for its pure isolation. It rises steeply up from the valley floor on all sides, there are no subsidiary peaks. 2,400 feet of climbing are required from any direction. The route is;
1 To reach the start, follow the R312 Castlebar to Bangor road turning right a mile after the junction with the R317 to Newport. Continue along this side road to grid reference 115055 where there is a stone clad cottage.
2 A good track goes past the right hand side of the farm and stops at a barbed wire fence. Climb the fence and head steeply up open hillside. After a difficult initial 600ft of climbing the going improves. Ascend the broad ridge to the summit plateau and continue to the summit.