Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Purple Mountain, climbing in Kerry

14 March 2017

Climbing in Kerry 

Our trip began with a tight squeeze. Because of the road leading into Black Valley, we had to split into two minibuses. This was nothing new as we had experienced it 2 years ago on our hike of Carrauntoohil. In these two buses, we made our way through Limerick and Killarney, with a quick stop at the famous Barack Obama Plaza.

Then just as midnight peaked around the corner, we arrived at the gap of Dunloe, famous/infamous for its winding narrow road, with rocks on either side. Truly a feat of skill, our bus drivers navigated through the Gap in the dark and dropped us off safely at the Black Valley hostel. Within a heartbeat of unloading, we all slid away to our rooms, settling in for a good nights rest.

 


The next day, following a hearty breakfast, we were met by Gerry, a white-bearded, good-humoured fellow with a background in both mountaineering and microbiology (go figure!). And so, with full bellies, bubbling eagerness, and the shining sun on our faces, we set off down the road.

Before long, we entered a small gate and stepped into the thick boggy grass, a true challenge to start the hike with. But with some grace and precision, we manoeuvred through the bog, across a sheer rocky creek, and over a short ridge where we caught our first glimpses of (the not so purple) Purple Mountain.

 

After pausing for a quick break to catch our breath, we began our slow but steady ascent along more favourable terrain; and what initially seemed like an arduous climb quickly proved to be an easy ascent as we reached the scree of Purple Mountain well before midday. With nothing more than a quick scramble between us and the peak, we were soon having lunch in and around rocky bunkers with the wind blowing on our backs and sun shining in our faces.

Here, our group splits, with one turning back to follow a rocky path along Glas Lough to the hostel and the other hiking on to Shehy Mountain, shorter peak with more views of Lough Leane.

And of course at the end of the day, the whole group sat down for a delicious dinner of Japanese Curry chicken with rice. Then we all joined together for a round of Mafia: a game that brings people together by tearing them apart. The usual guitar, song, and banter followed. And in the later hours of the night everyone slipped away slowly to rest.

 


The next sunshiny morning we said our goodbyes to the wonderful hostel and breathtaking Black Valley as we slowly drove out on an equally windy, but less scary road back to Dublin.