One of the top ten highest peaks in Ireland, Mount Brandon is a must-visit for walkers and hikers alike. Here is everything you need to know about the Mount Brandon hike.
Mount Brandon is the highest peak in Ireland outside of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range in County Kerry. So, once you’ve conquered Carrauntoohil and its neighbours, the Mount Brandon walk is a must.
Located at the centre of a long high ridge called the Brandon Group in Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula, Mount Brandon stands at an impressive 952 metres (3,123 ft) in height.
Mount Brandon and the Brandon Group are named after Saint Brendan, one of the early Irish monastic saints and one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.
It is also the end of a Christian pilgrimage known as Cosán na Naomh, and the full range walk, which takes around six to seven hours, is regarded as one of the finest ridge walks in Ireland.
So, if you fancy taking on one of Ireland’s best-regarded walking ways, from the best route to distance, when to visit and more, here is everything you need to know about the Mount Brandon hike.
Basic overview – all you need to know
- Distance: 10.9 km (6.8 miles return)
- Start point: Car park near Faha Grotto
- Parking: Car park near Faha Grotto (room for approx. 10 cars)
- Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous.
- Duration: Six plus hours
Best route – how to get to the top
From the car park, follow the steep grassy path leading up the hill to reach Faha Grotto.
From here, a well-worn lower path that continues to follow up the hill, where you will quickly gain height over this gradual elevation.
You will begin to enter the incredible Owennafeana River Valley, where you will see the Paternoster or Coumaknock Loughs, steep cliffs, and the fantastic Faha Ridge.
You will see a winding path of loose scree leading up the cliff face, which leads to the Col above. This may look intimidating at first. However, the path is actually very manageable.
Once you reach the Col, turn left to take the final short and easy walk (approx. 500m) to the summit of the Mount Brandon hike.
Once you have taken in the magnificent views over County Kerry from the summit, you can return via the route you came.
Distance – how long it will take
The Mount Brandon walk is approximately 10.9 km (6.8 miles) from the car park near the Faha Grotto, and the hike should take around six to seven hours.
However, we would recommend leaving sufficient time to enjoy the views from along the route and the summit of Mount Brandon.
When to visit – weather and crowds
Due to the rough terrain and the exposed ridges along much of the Mount Brandon hike, it is inadvisable to do this walk in poor conditions as visibility in this region can become very poor.
Therefore, the best time to visit would be in the late spring, summer, and early autumn for the mildest Irish weather.
To avoid crowds, we advise doing the Mount Brandon walk on a weekday if possible and try to avoid any public or bank holidays.
What to bring – come prepared
As with any mountainous region in Ireland, the weather at Mount Brandon is very changeable and unpredictable. Therefore, we advise bringing layers that you can put on or take off as you choose.
It is also a good idea to wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots or good trainers to ensure you have stable footing while completing the Mount Brandon hike.
As the walk will last over six hours, we recommend you also bring an adequate supply of food and water to keep your energy levels up as you make your way to the summit.
What to see – beautiful sights
As one of the most scenic regions in Ireland, there is plenty to see along the Mount Brandon walk.
From stunning 360-degree views of the incredible Dingle Peninsula from the mountain’s summit to historical sights along the way, there is plenty not to be missed.
From the summit, you can see unrivalled views of the impressive peninsula jutting out into the wild Atlantic Ocean, as well as the beautiful lakes and rolling countryside below.
Along the route, you should also stop to check out the engine of a plane wreck, which crashed in the region during World War Two, the fascinating Faha Grotto, and the beautiful lakes and valleys that call the Brandon Group home.