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Masatiompan & Brandon Mountain
Masatiompan & Brandon Mountain via Dingle Way & the Saints’ Route
Brandon Mountain (or Mount Brandon as some call it) is the only “Munro” on the Dingle Peninsula. Approaching Dingle from the E, turn left at the roundabout (Connor Pass is right, ahead is no entry). Follow the road around the sea front to a roundabout (where left goes over a river). Go straight across the roundabout and follow a long road over the top of a low pass from where the sea should be visible ahead. Cross a minor diamond crossroad. About 300 m further on, fork right – signposted “Mount Brandon” and follow a narrow minor road to its end where there is usually plenty of parking. Here there is a notice about the Saints Road and a plaque on the left with a large grotto on the right just over a bridge.
16 km Approx 6 -7 hours
Masatiompan, 763 m, Q 465 146 (Irish National Grid System)
Piaras Mor, 748 m, Q 463 137
Brandon Mountain, 952 m, Q 461 116 Irish OS Discovery Series Map 70 (1:50000)
This route uses the Dingle Way to access the N ridge of Brandon Mountain. There is about 5 km of road walking at the start. The ascent up the Dingle Way takes in some wonderful coastal views especially of the Three Sisters and Ballydavid Head. Masatiompan is an excellent viewpoint for looking up the N ridge of Brandon Mountain. Navigation is generally straight forward, even in mist, although this walk should be saved for a clear day. The descent of Brandon Mountain follows the well marked Saints' Route. Navigation is as idiot proof as it gets parts of the route are becoming quite eroded. You should be able to easily reset your GPS to the Irish National Grid System. Brandon Mountain is notorious for mist and has more misty days than even Ben Nevis so feel privileged if you have good weather.
(1) Walk back down the road until the right angle corner to the left is reached. Go right here. The road soon becomes a track and this is followed until it comes out on another road after about 1.2 km. Continue along the road for just over 2 km, generally heading N, until its end is reached after a pink/purple house (on the left). Go through the gate on to a good track but within 100 m, leave the track and follow the way marked Dingle Way NE as it heads towards an obvious col. Keep going to the highest point of the Dingle Way which is on a gravel col with a fence across it. Turn left, N, and follow the fence uphill on to a small plateau where there is a medium cairn (with a finger stone in it on 24/4/12) which marks the summit of Masatiompan, 763 m.
(2) Retrace back to the col then follow the fence up the other side. There is a small “bump” (702 m) just above the col which can be ascended or traversed – the fence runs to its left. Continue S, shadowing the fence which goes to the left of Piaras Mor but it is worth making the ascent up easy slopes to the rocky crest where there is a small flat cairn which marks the summit of Piaras Mor, 748 m.
(3) Descend to the S or, more easily, back N a few metres then to the E. Continue to follow the fence which now has a good path alongside it. The route climbs SW up the obvious ridge which then turns S. The edge on the left is becoming more precipitous. A top above An Dubh Loch is passed then two tops on promontories jutting slightly E. The last of these is given a spot height of 891 m on the map and is the summit of the rocky Faha ridge. By now, the fence has run out, curiously at a stile where there is only fence posts but the route ahead is obvious on the good path. However, in thick mist, do remember that the general direction of travel is S. From Pt 891, a slight descent leads to where the Faha corrie approach meets the crest (there is sign saying “Down”) and the route becomes even better defined and, within about 500 km, reach the large cross, trig point and cairn which mark the summit of Brandon Mountain, 952 m. Several parallel paths lead to the summit, one of which is close to the precipitous edge.
(4) With the precipitous edge behind you, walk SW down a gentle slope. White marker posts soon appear and will be visible from the summit in good weather. Follow the posts, and occasional crosses, down to the top of a short track which leads back to the car park. Parts of this path have become quite eroded and care is needed in places but nowhere is it steep or exposed. If rain has recently fallen then much of the path will be a stream which is accelerating the erosion.
(a) This walk took place on 24th April, 2012.
(b) In clear weather, you might consider descending down the SW ridge until you reach the marker posts.
(c) There is a very good camp and caravan site, near the village of Castlegregory, called the Anchor Caravan Site.. It is very well laid out with good facilities for campers including hot showers for a small extra charge. There is a good campers’ kitchen with tables and sinks if you have your own cooking equipment and pans as well as a fridge and freezer. There is also a sitting room with a TV. Castlegregory is on the N side of the Dingle Peninsula. From Dingle, go over the Connor Pass, then follow the coast road towards Tralee, past Castlegregory (excellent Spar shop here) until signs appear. If you reach a large petrol station/stores on the right, you have gone too far. At the bottom of this site is a gate from where a short path goes over a sand dune to the beach and Atlantic Ocean. Well equipped trailer vans are also available for hire.