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3 of the Best Ring of Kerry Walks in the Dunkerron Mountains

Coomnacronia View Sneem

Complete the Dunkerron Mountains Vandeleur Lynams Challenge with Álaind Walking

In July 2023, I received an email from Bryan McCabe about coming on a walking holiday to Sneem. However, Bryan had a specific bespoke walking holiday in mind rather than one of my most popular packages.

What is a Vandaleur Lynam?

The Vandaleur Lynams is a list of all Irish mountains measuring 600 meters or more with a prominence of 15 meters. Currently, this list contains 275 peaks. Bryan set out many years ago to complete the challenge of reaching every peak in this list and standing on its highest point.

Bryan’s Challenge

Bryan had nine peaks in the Dunkerron Mountains remaining to complete, and he wanted to do them all in one three day walking holiday. He contacted me to see if I could help him organise this challenge.

Planning the Challenge

I was familiar with most of the mountains on Bryan’s list, but I hadn’t necessarily combined them into manageable and enjoyable walks. I decided to split the challenge into three epic Ring of Kerry walks:

  • Walk 1: An Ghuala Chorm (Coomcallee), Beann na Stiocairí and An Bheann Mhór; 14 KM; 5.5 Hrs and 650m ascent;
  • Walk 2: Coomnacronia, An Corrán (Finneraragh), Coomura, An Cnoc Maol (Knockmoyle) and Cnoc na gCáinte; 21KM; 8Hrs and 1,060m ascent
  • Walk 3: Broaghnabinnia, 6KM; 5 Hrs and 650m ascent.

Here’s How We Got On

Day 1 – An Ghuala Ghorm (Coomcallee), Beann na Stiocairí and An Bheann Mhór.

L to R: Bryan McCabe, John Carey and Denis Healy on top of our first Valdeleur Lynam (VL) Peak – An Ghuala Ghorm 650m with Sneem River Estuary and Kenmare Bay below.
One of the four sea eagles that put on an aerial show during our lunch break as we sat looking down on Loch na nGrág, Lough Currane and Ballinskelligs Bay.
The three lakes of Loch na hEisce and Loch Oileán UíEadhna and Loch Dhoire Ianna (in the distance) visible on the approach to Beann na Stiocairí 672m – VL Peak 2.
Having continued our westerly ascent from Beann na Stiocairí, we arrived ay the trig point marking the summit of An Bheann Mhór 675m – VL Peak 3. Here I am, Fergal Harrington (right) with John (left), Denis (mid) and Bryan (right).

Day 2 – Coomnacronia, An Corán (Finneraragh), Com Úra (Coomura), An Cnoc Maol (Knockmoyle) and Cnoc ma gCainte (Knocknagantee)

Here’s our route from the day recorded by Bryan McCabe.
Once again we were treated to the sight of four sea eagles at the appropriately named Eagles Lake in the mountains behind Álaind Lodges in Sneem.
On route to the top of Coomnacronia Mountain, we ascended the shoulder between Eagles Lake and Coomnacronia Lake.

Our route started initially on the Fermoyle Loop Trail. After following this for a while, we branched off to begin our ascent to the heights above Derrynagree.

Coomnacronia Mountain 636m was our first target of the day – VL Peak 4 – with fantastic views over the coom lake below and beyond.
Our next stop took us west to An Corán (Finneraragh) 667m – VL Peak 5.
Some great rainbows over Lough Reagh and Cloon Lough to the north.
Having crossed the coll and turned northwards we ascended to the top of Com Úra 666m – VL Peak 6.

The condition were changing continuously as you can tell from the photos with dense mist on the summit.

Here we are on the summit of An Cnoc Maol 684m – VL Peak 7.

From here we head back southwards to our final peak of the day.

Cnoc na gCainte (Knocknagantee) 676m was our final target for the day and VL Peak 8. You’ll enjoy amazing views of Coomanassig Lake and waterfall with Eagle’s Lake below.

The final leg of our walk, follows Michael Murphy’s farm track to his yard at the bottom of the mountain.

Day 3 – Broaghnabinnia

Our final day involved summiting the single peak of Broaghnabinnia. Rising steeply 600m+ from the Bridia Valley floor, this Dunkerron Mountain is not for the fainthearted. Although our shortest walk of the three days, the pull to the top along the narrow spur is a sweat-inducing challenge.

For the guts of two hours, we picked our way along the fence line sometimes on all fours, until thankfully the incline eased as we neared the top.

Like all our walks, this one also offers wonderful views and the summit was a pleasurable place to lunch.
Descending a different route to the south, we reached the col and then followed the Comreagh river all the way to the valley floor.

Our Base of Operations – Álaind Lodges

Completing the Challenge

Bryan and John  and Denis undertook the Dunkerron Mountains Vandaleur Lynams Challenge in July 2023. They were an experienced group of walkers, and they were well-prepared for the challenge. They enjoyed the walks and the stunning scenery of the Dunkerron Mountains.

Here's What Bryan Said

I contacted Fergal with a rather unusual request - to complete 9 specific Vandeleur Lynams (600m+ peaks) in different areas of the Dunkerron range over 3 days. From initial contact, Fergal was extremely helpful, and even carried out some reccies himself to find the optimum routes.

We had three fantastic days of hillwalking led by Fergal. He's a superb walk leader - very safety conscious, knowledgeable and passionate about the area, unhurried and really good company. The Dunkerrons are spectacular - some fabulous rocky terrain, dozens of corrie lakes and an abundance of wildlife (we saw several white-tailed sea eagles, grouse etc) - it is such a shame that these mountains are sometimes overlooked by people seeking out the high Reeks.

Álaind B&B accommodation is top quality too, lovely spacious and well-appointed rooms, tasty breakfasts - and Fergal went above and beyond to make sure we had an enjoyable experience in the Sneem area.

I cannot recommend Álaind highly enough - and will definitely return!!
Bryan McCabe

If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding walking holiday in Ireland, I would highly recommend the Dunkerron Mountains Vandaleur Lynams Challenge. Contact me today to plan your bespoke walking holiday.