Mangerton Mountain and Bennaunmore, Killarney, County Kerry
3-5 April 1998
Map: The area is split between sheets 78 and 79 of the Discovery Series (scale 1:50000). Due to this, a photocopy is being used for the event. A 1:25000 scale map of the Killarney national Park also covers half of the route.
Mangerton Mountain dominates the south of the Killarney region. Outside of the Reeks, it is the highest mountain of the Iveragh Peninsula, reaching an elevation of 839 metres. However, the summit area is a vast plateau, and as a result the mountain seen from a distance appears dull when compared with it’s more shapely neighbours. What cannot be seen from the lowland around Killarney is Glencappul (The Horse’s Glen), a stunning example of the effects of glaciation on the Irish landscape. Much of the Saturday’s route is a circuit of the great coum, which, if the weather is right, should provide memorable views. Sunday’s route will take teams onto Bennaunmore, a rare example of volcanic activity in the southwest. Its eastern columnar cliffs have been called the Giant’s Causeway of Kerry.
At a recent meeting of the MPC staff, it was agreed that on many occasions Sunday routes have developed into mere walkouts. With this in mind, we have included a ‘day hike’ type section on the Sunday. It is hoped that all the teams will complete the full route, but for those who will have a pressing need to be off the mountains early, that option still remains. Please remember to allow for this when planning menus and be sure to bring enough food for the Sunday route.
You will note that the finish is some distance from the start. On the weekend, we will arrange for minibuses to ferry teams back to the start in Torc Car Park. (This may involve a small charge).
From Killarney Town Centre, take the N71 towards Kenmare. After passing Muckross, the road enters a section of the Killarney Oak Woods. The start is at the Torc Waterfall Car Park at 967 848. This is signposted on the road.
Torc car park (967 848) to forest road (966 842)
From the car park, follow the river to the base of Torc Waterfall, which makes a great noise as it falls. Follow a series of steps and a path (not shown on the map) to reach the main forest road. This road is actually the beginning of the Old Kenmare Road, an ancient route between Killarney and Kenmare.
Forest road (966 842) to forest edge (977 842)
Once on the forest road at 966 842, turn right, and then take the 2nd left, after approx. 200m. NOTE: This road is not shown on either the 1:25000 or 1:50000 maps. It leads to a forest road junction, located at the sharp bend shown on the map at 967 839. Take the left option, and proceed straight on (ignoring turn-offs, first to the right and then to the left) to the road junction at 975 842. Turn right. After a short distance, pass through a fence ‘gate’. Follow the fence on the left downhill, and cross the stream at the point indicated at approx. 977 842.
Forest edge (977 842) to Camp 1 (978 841)
At the forest edge, you will be shown where to cross the fence. Do not cross at any other point. Cross the stream and make your way to the campsite. Check in with a staff member and set up camp.
Leaving the campsite, return to the forest track at the point from which you left it on Friday evening. Follow it uphill and take two successive left turns on track junctions. The map shows the first correctly but omits a section of track at the second turn (974 839). The track eventually ends at a turning circle, on the south side of which a small path heads uphill steeply between the trees. This brings you above the tree line and then a set of crude steps lead up through some crags before opening onto the hillside at Barnancurrane (970 834).
Barnancurrane (970 834) to stream (969 825)
From the top of Barnancurrane contour south across the broad slope to the stream. Remember to aim off if using a compass in mist.
Cross the stream and continue across the slope to pick up a second stream. Follow this uphill to the Batchelor’s Well at the outflow of the Devil’s Punch Bowl.
Devil’s Punch Bowl (975 817) to Arête (982 814)
The Punch Bowl is a dramatic location, so by all means stop to take in the view. The area of boulders and rock above the lake shore would provide shelter for a stop in bad weather. When you are ready, move along the northern shore of the lake (you should find a path leading through the rock) and up to the tiny pool at the foot of the arête. This will give you your first view of Glencappul.
Arête (982 814) to Mangerton (980 808)
From the pool follow the arête up to the edge of Mangerton’s plateau. The arête is a great vantage point from which to view both the Punch Bowl and Glencappul. And when reached, the view from the edge of the plateau is also impressive. Given the right weather there is an extensive panorama stretching from the mountains of North Cork in the east to the Reeks in the west. It is also possible to see the mountains of the Dingle peninsula to the north. Once you have taken in the view, head out across the flat boggy plateau to Mangerton’s summit cairn. In mist this will require careful compass work.
[Please note: In any conditions care needs to be taken when ascending the arête, and there can be no messing on behalf of Scouts. It is not a knife edge, but a simple slip could turn into a fatal fall very easily, with steep cliffs on either side.]
Bad weather alternative: Devil’s Punch Bowl (975 817) to Mangerton (980 808)
In the event of poor weather (high winds especially), teams will not be allowed ascend to the plateau via the arête. Instead, from the Batchelor’s Well the western arm of the coum is followed to the plateau. Once the top (976 812) is reached the cliff line above the Punch Bowl is followed to where the arête reaches the plateau (982 811). From here head across the plateau to Mangerton’s summit, again using careful compass work in mist. It is not unusual for groups on Mangerton to completely miss the summit cairn in poor visibility.
Mangerton (980 808) to cliff edge (982 811)
From the cairn the views are restricted by the flat nature of the terrain, although in good weather short trip to the southern end of the plateau opens up more views of the south west. From the cairn return on more or less the same line to the cliffs above Glencappul.
Cliff edge (982 811) to gully top (999 807)
Follow the cliff line of Glencappul, as it heads south east, then north, then eastwards again. A faint track runs along the cliff line. As long as common sense prevails and there is no messing, this cliff top walk can be both pleasant and safe. But please be aware of the danger on your left at all times. The stream shown at 992 806 is permanent and is a good place to refill water bottles. The cliff line begins to become a little less distinct as you arrive above the area of the gully.
Gully top (999 807) to Col (003 807)
In poor weather it is advisable not to stick to the cliff line for the short stretch down to the Col before spot height 646m. Instead move to the slightly higher ground to the immediate south and follow the short broad spur down to the col.
Col (003 807) to Stoompa (007 818)
From the Col continue over spot height 646m and up to Stoompa. Looking back along the route on this stretch, the arête you climbed earlier looks very dramatic.
Stoompa (007 818) to stream junction (018 813)
From Stoompa drop down to the Col on it’s eastern side, and from there continue to the stream junction.
Stream junction (018 813) to river crossing (030 818)
Follow the line of the stream down into the valley, passing into the ancient wood (not shown on the map). Where the river turns north in Cappagh Glen follow it on to the narrows. Continue down with cliffs towering above on either side and cross the river where staff indicate.
River crossing (030 818) to Camp 2 (032 824)
Continue along by the river, and as the glen opens out again you will have reached Camp 2. Check in with a staff member and set up camp.
Camp 2 (032 824) to stream (034 829)
Leave the campsite and follow the rough track around the northern nose of Bennaunmore and down to the stream at the foot of he narrow valley.
Stream (034 829) to Lough Nabroda (038 819)
Make your way up this valley through the wood. Emerging at the top, the columnar cliffs on Bennaunmore’s eastern flank, which are volcanic in origin, come into view. Continue to the lake.
Lough Nabroda (038 819) to Crohane Lake (040 806)
Move along the east side of Lough Nabroda to Crohane Lake and continue along its east side.
Crohane Lake (040 806) to Bennaunmore (035 819)
From the southern end of Crohane Lake, make your way uphill to spot height 391m, and then over the Col and up to Bennaunmore’s summit, which provides good views over Lough Guitane.
Return to the Col and then carefully make your way down the steep slope into Cappagh Glen, aiming for the stream junction. Please note that most if not all of the tree branches are very brittle and are not to be relied upon to slow your descent.
Follow the river northwards through the glen, through the narrows and back to the campsite.
Pack up your tent and gear and check out with a member of the staff. Proceed to the northern end of Bennaunmore and follow the track to the gate at 035 832. Cross the stream and cross a second one at 035 833. Follow the track to the farm building, through a gate and on to the finishing point.
Be sure to check out with staff and well done!!
Transport will return teams or drivers back to the Car Park at Torc.