Hike Croaghaun Mountain and experience the highest sea cliffs in Ireland

Croaghaun Mountain achill island

Hiking Croaghaun Mountain

If looking for a challenging climb and don’t mind the risks of becoming food for the sea-gulls, then climbing Croaghaun mountain is a must. Located on Achill Island and at towering in at 688 metres high, this makes these sea cliffs the highest sea cliffs in Ireland and a close third to the highest in Europe.

croaghan cliffs achill island
Climbing Croaghan Cliffs the highest Cliffs in Ireland

What makes this climb so exciting and challenging is the fact that as it kisses the Atlantic and is more often than not surrounded by mist, fog and clouds making you feel very alive as you move high into the clouds with the Wild Atlantic wind in your face.

Bunnafreva Lough West achill

Bunnafreva Lough West

The cliff is famous for its north-east face, which has a pretty steep drop off from the peak into the Atlantic Ocean. This face is also home to the highest lake in Ireland, Bunnafreva Lough West, which is located a thousand feet above the sea, in a precarious position.

Croaghaun Mountain Hiking Routes

The ascent often begins at Corrymore lake, which is situated at the base of the mountain and is a beautiful spot to relax and take some good photographs.

Corrymore lake, a prime source of drinking water for the Achill Island,
Corrymore lake, a prime source of drinking water for the Achill Island

The edges of the lake are surrounded by steep cliffs and crags which give it an ominous look, especially when the day is dark and the mountain is surrounded by clouds.

Standing at the edge you wait for a Lochness-esque monster to emerge from the water.

You will want to start ascending the shoulder of the mountain, which provides a smoother path up to the peak relative to the craggy cliffs that are situated behind Corrymore lake. So as you are climbing, you need to keep to the right, to avoid the edge of the cliff which drop into the Atlantic, as well as to keep you from having to climb up the cliff with a more steeper grade.

corrymore lake achill lake
Corrymore Lake, Achill Island

As you keep ascending, the path becomes a bit more treacherous, so keep your wits about you, and do not let your concentration waver. As you ascend past 400 meters, you will start to see over the back of the mountain and beyond – catching a glimpse of Belmullet’s golden beaches out to the Northwest, and also two tiny islands, one of which displays a picturesque lighthouse.

After this, the climb becomes relatively easy, as it just consists of boggy ground that smoothly rises to a point where the mountain again rises steeply to the peak. Over on the cliff’s edge, you will get a spectacular view of the drop-off, and of the geological fissures that are present on the sides of the mountain – this view is not for the faint of heart.

Walk to the edge of the old world and look out at a vast ocean with nothing until America in your eye line.

Paul Feeney
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