An Cro Mor weighs in at less than 300m, but this belies it's true stature. The story begins in the village of Dunquin with the Blasket Island visitor centre telling the story of the island. This is a great audio and visual experience that brings the island to life - with a great poetic and literary tradition against the backdrop of fishing and farming and a dwindling populace, until all left in the 1950's.
Dunquin is also the shortest crossing to Great Blasket. Eco-tours around the other islands are also available and would make for an interesting few hours. The tiny harbour is reached by a steep concrete path and a careful step onto the small boat for the 20 minute crossing (25 euro). Even on a calm day there was a 5-6 foot swell which called for a tight hold on the handrails. A transfer to a small dingy and the donning of a lifejacket brings the slipway at the island and firm ground once more.
The remains of a once vibrant community are laid out in the stone houses in various states of decay, above a lovely beach and views across to the mainland - to Mt Eagle and further to Brandon. I saw my 1st chough here, with its distictive red beak. A green track zig zags uphill and starts the walk high up along the S side of the island - views increase to the sharp Skelligs and the mountainous protrusions of Iveragh and Beara. There are plunging drops to the sea, a ring of white encircling the island as water pushes against immovable rock. Clouds were piling up over the hills of Dingle and disappearing as they travelled over the sea, leaving the island bathed in strong June sunshine. As we stopped for lunch boats hugged the hem line of the island below with thier tours and i thought the price for my journey was pretty small.
The track joins that which takes the northern side of the island before rising to the top of An Mullach Ramher (281m). Inis Tuaisceart to the N and Inis na Bro and Inis Mhic Aoibhleain to the SW join the picture as smaller siblings. There is a short drop and ascent to the trig pillar at An Cro Mor, through red heather and stunning views in all directions.
The top read 967ft on my GPS, after walking 3m in 1.25 hours. The top was misty as air rose strongly from the N against the very steep hillside. This gave only glimpses of the magnificent views along the whole island - to the other Blasket Islands, including the pointed sahape of An Tiaracht - to the hills of Dingle, Iveragh and Beara and the smaller sharper Skellig islands to the S. Returned on N side of the island - this gave a much better perspective on the hills rising up from the sea.
There was time to spend on the warm sand of the beach - watching boats ply thier trade, a yacht drop anchor, a seal raise its head and feel the cool waters before the last boat returned to the mainland. A walk of 6m and 2.25 hours. Very few people exploring the length of the island - good for us but a pity as they were missing out - will you?? Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/963/comment/3926/