I started at 6.30am from the parking lot on the west side of the Gaddagh River (i.e. the parking area due west of Cronin's yard, typically used for the Shea's Gulley route to climb Carrauntoohil). From there, I followed the path to Lough Callee, and from there headed in a south easterly direction, ascending the Bone to the summit of Maolan Bui. This part was the most physically demanding part of the trip, as it's a pretty continuous climb, and I had not picked up the trail, so it was a mix of walking on a grassy slope and scrambling on rocks. The ridge from Maolan Bui to Knocknapeasta is a pretty straightforward walk, but things get a lot more interesting from there. From Knocknapeasta to the Big gun, the ridge is nothing short of spectacular. The views are fantastic, and the exposure on both sides will certainly test your head for heights. The only exposure that I have experienced in Ireland that comes close is on a short section of Sliabh League in Donegal. I stayed on the skyline as much as possible, which meant a few interesting downclimbs to deal with. The ascent up the southern slope to the top of the Big Gun is fairly straightforward, and from there had a short steep descent to the ridge heading over towards Cruach Mor. This ridge does not have as much exposure as the section between Knocknapeasta and Big Gun, as it is a broader ridge, with a flatter top, however if you stick to the skyline, it is more interesting (and challenging) due to 3-4 sections where you have to downclimb approx 10 ft drops - does not sound like much, but a fall could mean you tumble a long way before stopping! After the summit of Cruach Mor, there is a long slog back to the starting point. Descending the ridge in a northeasterly direction from Cruach Mor, a fence marks the spot where you turn north, and begin the descent back towards home. When you reach the point where this slope starts to flatten out, turn north west for a squishy walk (or run!) through bog to the point where the Cronin's yard trail crosses the Gaddagh river. From there, cross the river, and pick up the trail that brings you back to the parking lot. This was a great loop to do on an early weekday morning. I was the only person up there, and got back to my car by 10.15am, just in time to make breakfast (barely!) back at the B&B in Beaufort.
See the following link for a route map (under the "map type" drop-down, best to view as "satellite map"):
http://www.mapmyrun.com/hike/ireland/killarney/C (V55912 51460)D (Q4406 0028) Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/10/comment/4058/