After descending from the mountains the final 10 km of our walk followed the East Munster Way and later the Tipperary Heritage Way, two long distance footpaths which end near the Knockmealdown mountains. The Tipperary Heritage Way is a 55km path between Cashel and the Vee while the East Munster Way is a 70 km walk from Clonmel to Clogheen, the village where we were staying. We were more than happy to jump in our car at the Vee - we had been hiking for 8.5 hours by this stage! It’s very easy to find your way along these paths as yellow posts indicate the correct path at every junction. The scenery was beautiful along the stretch of path we followed.
After descending from Crohan West we found ourselves in a conifer forest, 10km from the car park where the walk ended. We got lost initially and only knew where we were when we came across the Liam Lynch monument, which was marked in the OS map.
This is an impressive monument to a local man who fought in Ireland’s War of Independence against Britain and later in the Irish Civil War on the anti-treaty side (those who opposed the treaty giving Ireland a Free State of 26 counties but leaving 6 northern counties under British rule). Lynch was Chief of Staff of the IRA in the Civil War . He was killed in 1923 in the Knockmealdown mountains by pro-treaty members, all of whom had been former comrades.
The memorial was erected in 1935 in a ceremony attended by over 15000 people, and it stands in the spot where he‘s supposed to have died. Even today, the memorial is well maintained and there were flowers at the base. The memorial consists of a round tower topped by a cross and surrounded by four plinths with statues of dogs.
A quick detour from the path between Sugarloaf Hill and Knockmealdown takes you to Knockshane, the second highest peak in the Knockmealdown range, at 768m. The path to Knockshane can also be used as an alternative descent from Knockmealdown. It’s worth making the detour for the views to Knockmealdown as it’s possibly the best viewpoint available for the highest mountain in the range.
After climbing Knockmealdown many people turn back and head down via Sugarloaf Hill or by Knockshane, the second highest peak. An alternative is to extend the walk to take in the eastern Knockmealdown peaks. These aren’t as high but the scenery is equally good so this is the path we chose. We descended from Knockmealdown via the steep south east path and stopped for lunch at a small shelter near the saddle.
Knocknagauv, at 655m, was the next peak after Knockmealdown. The views of Knockmealdown as you climb to Knocknagauv are spectacular as there is nothing to block the panorama. We followed the old border wall up to Knocknagauv - the summit (5th highest in this range) is about 30 metres south of the wall and is marked by cairns. As you move east you’re getting closer to the Comeragh mountains so the views in this direction are well worth the climb.
Knockmealdown is the highest peak in the Knockmealdown mountains and is the goal of most walkers who hike in the range. The name comes from the Irish “Cnoc Meal Mhaoldomhnaigh”, which means Muldowney’s Hill.
The summit is marked by a trig stone and on a clear day offers superb views. The views to the south include Dungarvan Harbour,Youghal in County Cork and the Blackwater River. To the north are the Galtee mountains while the Comeraghs are visible in the distance to the east.
Knockmealdown is in both County Waterford and County Tipperary. It’s the highest peak in Waterford though not the highest in Tipperary as a number of peaks in the Galty mountains are higher. It’s quite common for Irish counties to share mountains as the summits provide a natural frontier.
The easiest ascent is via Sugarloaf Hill which is an hour’s hike from the Vee. The descent on the opposite side is very steep and on a rainy day can be dangerous. I slipped twice on the way down but none of the falls were serious.
Crohan West was the final summit we reached in the Knockmealdowns. By this time we were soaked and looking forward to getting down from the mountains. The mist was coming down fast, it was very windy and it there was even a bit of hail as we reached the summit. On a fine day the views are supposed to be superb. Unfortunately, we could only see about 30 yards in any direction. If you make it here on a good day you’ll have a great view of the Comeraghs, the Galty mountains and South Tipperary. At 521metres, Crohan West is one of the smaller peaks in the Knockmealdown mountains but the path to the summit is boggy, and it disappears in places, making it a frustrating ascent. It’s easy to find your way down the other side as a line of posts marks the way.
The Knockmeladowns are split between counties Waterford and Tipperary and the border passes through many of the summits in the range, including Sugarloaf Hill, Knockmealdown and Knocknagauv. Parts of an old border wall can still be seen between these three peaks, making the path much easier to follow in places.
Sugarloaf Hill was the first summit we climbed in the Knockmealdowns. It takes an hour from the Vee to reach the summit, along a path which is rather poor in places. The summit is marked by a cairn and there are excellent views in all directions. Especially towards the Galty mountains to the north, and to Knockmealdown, the highest in this range, to the south. At 663 metres, Sugarloaf Hill is the 4th highest summit in the Knockmealdowns. Most people climb Sugar Loaf Hill on the way to Knockmealdown summit, which is about an hour to the south east.
The Vee is a sharp hairpin bend on the road from Clogheen through the gap in the Knockmealdowns. It’s the starting point for many hikes in the Knockmealdowns. There are great views from the Vee which overlook south Tipperary and the Galty mountains.
On the climb to Sugarloaf Hill the first place to stop is the Grubb monument which overlooks the Vee. The monument is dedicated to Samuel Grubb a 19th century local landowner. There are fine views of the Vee, of the Galty mountains to the northwest and the Comeragh mountains to the east.