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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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How many of these Irish mountains can you climb over Christmas?

See you at the summit of Lugnaquilla?

CHRISTMAS IS A time of pure and utter indulgence. Plain and simple. It’s a time to stuff your face, get fat, do no exercise and drink way more than is safe or reasonable.

But on the off-chance that the novelty wears off – slim chance, we know – we’ve compiled a little bucket list for you here to stew over for the next week or so.

There are always a few days post-St Stephen’s Day where you’re a little unsure about what to do. The Fair City omnibus isn’t doing it any more, nor is Home Alone or the DVD of Jimmy Magee’s 25 favourite sporting moments.

But maybe, whisper it, some exercise could be in the offing?

Here are 10 great Irish mountains you should climb at some stage in your lifetime. Why not tick off the first few this festive season?

Mweelrea

Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Where: Westport, Mayo
Height: 814 metres

The small print: Mweelrea is a beast of a climb but on a clear day you’ll scarcely get a better view in this part of the world. It is flanked on one side by Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only true fjord, and on the other side by Doolough Pass, a glaciated valley.

You can also see the Sheffry Hills, the Twelve Bens, Killary Harbour, Croagh Patrick and some of Mayo’s finest beaches. Reserve at least five hours and have those cameras well charged up.

Mount Brandon

Where: Dingle, Kerry
Height: 952 metres

The small print: There are plenty ways to get up Brandon but the path starting from the townland of Faha is one of the most common. The total distance is ‘only’ eight kilometres and will take around two hours for a fit person. Most of it is pretty straightforward but there is some technical stuff towards the top.

Knockfierna

Where: Limerick
Height: 288 metres

The small print: The closest ‘big’ town to the trailhead for this is Adare and in truth, it’s a very manageable ascent. Three hours will have you up and down if you are in any way fit.

Benlevy Hill

Where: Cong, Mayo
Height: 416 metres

The small print: You never need much persuasion to head for Mayo and Cong, a neat little hamlet where Ashford Castle is based, is one of the county’s real gems.

Not far from the village is the trailhead for the ill climb of Benlevy. The mountain itself is snuggled between a couple of lakes and from the top offers fabulous views of Lough Mask and Lough Corrib and the higher Connemara and South Mayo mountains in all directions. Perfect to burn off that last helping of roast potatoes.

Benbaun

Where: Glencorbet, Galway
Height: 729 metres

The small print: The highest of the Twelve Bens, Benbaun is the highest point in county Galway. The terrain is as remote as it is challenging but never less than spectacular. Total time is around four-and-a-half hours but be prepared for ALL types of weather because when it closes in here, it really turns nasty.

Mangerton

Where: Kerry
Height: 829 metres

The small print: Mangerton is a moderate four- to five-hour (10 km) walking route to the summit, taking in the wonderful Devil’s Punchbowl, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Horse’s Glen, Killarney National Park and, on a good day, south west to Kenmare Bay.

Lugnaquilla

Lugnaquilla Mountain (The Lug), Leinsters highest Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Where: Wicklow
Height: 925 metres

The small print: The tallest mountain in Wicklow and the 13th highest peak in Ireland is quite a feat to get up. This challenging but accessible mountain is one of the best walks in the Wicklow Mountains and on a clear day, offers breath-taking views. Its close proximity to Dublin make it a favourite among tourists.

Slieve Donard

Where: Down
Height: 850 metres

The small print: This eight kilometre round trip is a real favourite and on a clear day one can see as far as the Isle of Man. The highest of the Mourne Mountains also affords views as far away as Wicklow, Donegal, Wales and even Scotland. Head for Newcastle and it’ll be looking down on you as you approach.

Mount Errigal

Where: Donegal
Height: 751 metres

The small print: This is one of the most picturesque places – and mountains – in the country and little wonder then that is so popular. Errigal is the highest mountain in Donegal and its peak dominates the northwest corner of Ireland. For many, it is quite simply the most beautiful mountain in the country and it is certainly among the most climbed despite its remote location.

Hill of Tara

HILL OF TARA IRISH HISTORIAL SITES IN IRELAND Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Where: Meath
Height: 253 metres

The small print: Like Lugnaquilla, this is less than an hour from Dublin and a real favourite with visitors. The fact that there’s so much history attached also makes it a favourite.

It’s not too taxing – you’ll be up and down before you know it — the path to the summit is well marked and good quality, so why the hell not?

Originally published at 14.00

Training and turkey: Getting through the festive season with your fitness intact

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