Climbing Croagh Patrick is something that I always wanted to do. Croagh Patrick which is nicknamed ‘The Reek’ is a mountain in County Mayo. The mountain is 764m (2,507ft) tall and is the third highest mountain in Mayo after Mweelrea and Nephin (but is undoubtedly the most popular!). Located roughly 8km from Westport, Croagh Patrick is very easily accessible. The reason behind it’s popularity is due to the climb being a ‘pilgrimage’ to honour Saint Patrick both in the past, and present – but many people just climb it for fun.
What You Need To Climb
The climb takes roughly 1.5-2 hours going up, and about 1.5 coming down. From my own personal experience including stops and everything it took about 1 hour 15 minutes going up, but 1.5 hours coming down! This is partially because I spent so long taking in the views, but also because I’m just really bad at going downhill! There are many contributing factors to the length of time it will take you such as the amount of people, the weather, along with your level of fitness and how well equipped you are.
I would recommend the following:
- Rent a stick to help with the last leg of the climb.
- Wear hiking boots/shoes with a strong sole as it is very rocky.
- Make sure your shoes have good ankle support.
- Dress for all weather types – bring a jacket even on the most sunny of days and sun cream on the worst because you just never know!
- Food to eat at the summit.
- A bottle of water.
- A camera – because the views are just too good!
- Not something to bring with you, but, make sure you climb it as early in the morning as possible! You won’t realise how thankful you will be for this until you watch the hoards of people climbing up as your are going down and watching them all get in the way of each other. We started the climb at about 8:30am which was later than originally planned and we had no issues on the way up with crowding.
After that, whatever you bring is at your own discretion really. Someone in our group actually had asthma and found it really hard at the beginning even with his inhaler so if you are in any way asthmatic take is really easy and make sure to bring your inhalers with you!
I felt as though the climb was broken up into three separate parts on the way up.
The Initial Ascent
This is when you set out from the carpark. First you will encounter steps up along which will then turn into mountainous terrain that you will be walking on for the rest of your journey. This part is difficult I won’t lie. I think it’s mostly because you are just getting started and aren’t fully warmed up yet. Take this part easy and if it is a clear day, make sure to look behind you and take in the views.
Yes, you read that right.. flat! The initial ascent almost feels like it goes on forever but you soon get blessed with flat land for a couple of minutes. This is where you can prepare yourself for the next step which is the impressive vertical climb in the picture above, and use the toilets built just off the side of the path. (Yes, a mountain with toilets! What a blessing!
The Final Hurdle
The last part is definitely the most challenging of all and incredibly daunting when you are looking at it from the flat area. This is where you really feel like you are climbing a peak as right in front of you is just a vertical wall of loose stones. The stones fall under your feet as you take each step and I’m not really lying when I say it’s practically vertical. This is where the walking stick will come in really handy!! It’s not impossible to do, but this part just takes a small bit of concentration and effort if you want to reach the top. At the top you can mark your achievement by getting a picture with the sign, and if you are luckier than myself the summit won’t be covered in fog and you will get graced with the amazing views this height has to offer over Clew Bay.
This is just personally how I viewed the climb up, and found it easier to mentally break it down piece by piece. Once you get to the top, take in the views around you, walk around the church which was built in 1905 (but there was a chapel originally there in the 15th Century!) and take a picture with the sign. It was incredibly foggy on the day that we climbed so our views got cut off about half way up and we couldn’t see a single thing up at the top. We ate our food, took pictures and waiting about 45 minutes for the fog to lift but to no avail so we started to make our descent.
I found the descent harder than the ascent funnily enough! I always seem to feel this way about climbing so it took me a pretty long time to get back down. The views are absolutely stunning on the way down so try not to rush the experience and take in the scenery around you. Once we got down, we hopped into the car and drove to ‘The Tavern’. You can barely see the front door with the amount of award plaques they have on their front wall which is always a good sign. I’m sure any food would have tasted good to us at that moment in time, but I definitely can’t recommend stopping here to eat enough!
Tip: While we were walking up, a nice young man offered us his stick so we did the same coming down to someone else we saw didn’t have one. If you are in the position where you can give your stick to someone else, do a random act of kindness and pass it on!
If you climb Croagh Patrick early it gives you some time to go home, shower, take a must needed nap and you will still have plenty of time to go out and explore Westport. I would recommend anyone to climb Croagh Patrick. It’s a great day out, you feel amazing after it and it is defintely do-able if you have even mild level of fitness.
Have you ever climbed Croagh Patrick? Or is hiking something you enjoy doing? Let me know!