This walk uses the Western Way and the Maam Turk pass to ascend Binn Bhán. Given that this hill is only 488m high, it’s a long way to go for a modest bag. On the other hand, this is one of only 3 sub-500m peaks in the MV highest rated 100, so it’s got something going for it.
Take the Western Way north-west from Ilion. There is a particularly strongly worded no dogs allowed sign here. This section of the Way is currently in good condition, with new bridges, etc. After a little over 3km of Western Way (as its surface starts to deteriorate), take an initially faint track away to the right. This track is shown on OSI 37, but is easily missable on the ground. However, it’s immediately after an enclosure with an old ruin and a small bright green aluminium cabin on the right. The track is saturated in parts, but improves further in and meanders over the ridge. Then, at around L842567, the track crosses the river that flows down from the pass at Maam Turk. Here, rather than crossing the river, I left the track and ascended. If you didn’t want to visit the pass on the ascent, it might be easier to follow the path over the over the river and find an ascent point on the slightly less rugged ground a little further north.
The Twelve Bens from the Western Way:
Ascending to Maam Turk, I kept the river on my left. Going was made easier by staying further up from the banks, and some faint trails were visible. A few minutes after, the pass finally becomes visible, and a short, steep, grassy climb follows.
A fence runs through the pass and up towards Binn Bhán. There’s no need to cross the fence, but if you do there’s a holy well a few feet away, marked on OSI 37 on the east side of the pass. It’s a small hole in the ground with water in it, a stream flowing down east from it, and a ring of stones around it.
From the pass it’s another short, steep climb to the summit area where a small cairn on an outcrop marks the top. The formidable rocky bulk of Letterbreckaun dominates the view to the south and the grassy, sprawling Leenane Hill to the east. Also in view are the Twelve Bens and Lough Inagh, Kylemore Lough, Mweelrea, a bit of Killary Harbour. I headed along the summit area north for about 200m to another small cairn and descended from there. Staying as far north as possible eases the angle of descent and the terrain encountered. I met up with the track again at the river crossing and followed it to the Western Way.
Possibly a good option on a day when higher summits are in cloud. As the Maam Turk pass and Binn Bhán are out of sight for much of the walk, there is no visible objective, so some navigational knowledge is needed. The most tricky section would be descending from Binn Bhán. Going south or west from the summit look from above like the most direct routes down, but the ground is uncomfortably steep. Therefore it’s better to head north first. Heading back to the pass is also possible, but again is quite steep and also adds time. There are probably easier ways up Binn Bhán from the east (Glenglosh Valley), though they would probably require asking permission, crossing fences, etc. The main advantage of this route is that access via the Western Way is good, and the only need to cross a fence is if you want to visit the well.
A dry section of the rough track off the Western Way, with Letterbreckaun in the background:
Some sheep heading for Maam Turk: