Connacht 2005 - Twelve Bens

September 23-25th

Ordnance Survey Discovery Series Sheet 37

The Twelve Bens are situated in western Galway, and form the centre of the Connemara National Park. They are famed for their rugged peaks and good walking. Nine of the Summits are over 2000 feet and we hope to complete four of the northern summits.

The key to this activity is to travel light, however safety is paramount so do not skimp on the essentials. The 2 litre of coke is not necessary, the hair gel is only necessary when you get back to the car. The change of clothes for going home should be left in the car and not carried on the back. Try and carry large day-sacks instead of huge rucksacks, share the non-essential items of equipment instead of having one each. Please refer to the MPC handbook for the gear lists. These mountains are dangerous if not treated with respect. In order to ensure team safety please only have your lunch stop at one of the checkpoints and not between them.

Important Note! The valley and campsite can be riddled with midges if we are lucky(?) and there is no wind so in best scout tradition – Be Prepared!

How to get there:
From Galway take the Cliften road. After you pass through Maam Cross and Recess continue along the road passing Ben Lettery Youth Hostel. The turn off point is about 2- km further along the road. Take the right hand turn just past the church and follow the road along till it crosses the river. The carpark is just on the other side of the bridge at (L 744 513). (Note a coach will not make it up this road). Check in with the staff and prepare for a gear check.

Friday Night:
Start to Base Camp (L 766 527)
The route for Friday night takes us along the forestry track till it reaches the ford on the river at (L 775 519). You need to climb up onto the bank on the left-hand side and follow along between the forest edge and the river. Continue along the riverbank towards base camp. You need to cross a number of streams along the way. The points will be marked with Flags / Flashers. The best points to cross are very close to the main river where the streams are wide and shallow. You may also be able to jump a number of the narrower streams, but remember the extra weight of your rucksack. The base camp is situated close to a number of old buildings towards the top of the valley. Check in with the staff, and find a good spot to pitch the tent. Have a brew and hit the sack.

Saturday Hike:
The Saturday hike is designed as a day hike returning to the same camp. Teams will set off in alternate directions so all teams should familiarise themselves with the map and routes and prepare two routecards. The anti-clockwise route is described here and the alternate is merely the same route done clockwise.

Base Camp to Stream
Bend (L 774 532)
We intend to get the first teams away at about
9am. Get up and have Breakfast. A decision on the route for your team will be made at check out. Follow the river up - stream. Be careful crossing the feeding streams, as you do not wish to get wet this early.

Bend to Col (L 788 531)
Keep following the stream up hill. Take plenty of rests, as it is a gruelling trod. Your last chance to get water is just before the crest on the col.

Col to Benbaun (L 786 539)
Benbaun means the
White Mountain. From this point Benbaun's looks daunting. A steep grassy slopes lead up to a narrow band of rock. You will have to do a little route finding through this obstacle, it is not too difficult. Once you through it is an easy walk up a grassy ridge to reach the stony summit, marked by a trig point and cairn. This is the highest point in Co. Galway and views range across the mountains and countryside Connemara. This if the day is clear is an ideal place to do feature recognition and all members of the patrol should spend time looking at the Maum Turks, Killary Harbour and the many other geographical features in the area.


Benbaun to Benfree (L 778 544)
Benfree is an anglicised version of binn fhraoigh, which means the mountain of heather. A ridge of rock and scree descending from Benbaun becomes grassy as it leads down to the coll. A short walk up hill leads to the summit of Benfree.

Benfree to Muckanaght (L 768 541)
Muckanaght means the place of lumps and ridges. A steep, grassy slope lead downs from Benfree to a peaty col. Another steep and grassy slope then lead uphill from the
Col, becoming rocker towards the top of the mountain. There is a cairn on the summit.

Muckanaght to Bencullagh (L 756 537)
Bencullagh means the mountain of the old woman. A gentler slope leads down from the summit to the
Col, and the up hill walk isn't too steep either. The vegetation changes from grass to heather, but the top of Bencullagh is stony.

Bencullagh to Contour 300m (L 752 532)
From Bencullagh you descend first into a narrow col. Running along this Col is a fence which rails off a steep gully running down to the valley below. Follow down beside the fence taking great care to reach the checkpoint at the 300m contour.


Contour 300m to Base Camp (L 766 527)

From the checkpoint take a direct bearing to the Camp descending across the sometimes marshy ground back to the High Camp. Don’t forget to check in when you get back to the camp!

Sunday Hike:

Make sure you tidy up your campsite and take away any rubbish you may find. Once your site has been inspected by staff, check out and simply reverse the Friday night route back to the car park at (L744 513).



Well done and hopefully we’ll see you in Ulster.