Ben Bulben is a brilliant climb… as long as you climb up the correct side, that is.
Climb up the wrong side, (like I did!) and you could easily end up with a few injuries.
I honestly think I climbed up the steepest part of the mountain, and unless you have been there, it’s difficult to convey just how steep this part actually becomes.
As you get closer to the top, the grass and rocks become treacherous as the mountainside waterfalls leaves the ground extremely wet and slippy.
If you climb up the correct side of the mountain, it’s not nearly as steep and perfectly safe, so much so that a local group climbed it late at night as part of a fundraising mission. It takes just over an hour and shouldn’t pose any danger.
The side that I climbed however is in fact the side they warn you to steer clear of.
(Needless to say, I didn’t realise this little fact when I climbed it.)
I’m not exaggerating when I say that when you get to this particular point on the mountain, you realise that you almost have to calculate your next move before you take it especially when you’re climbing up around the rocks.
Around this part, it’s so easy to lose your footing. You have to take it very slowly and carefully if you’re not accustomed to this type of landscape.
I love rock climbing so the risk didn’t particularly bother me but in hindsight, it was a desperately unsafe section of the mountain and one I shouldn’t have attempted to climb without the proper gear.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any shots of the rockiest part.
Could just about walk that part, never mind attempt any photos!
If you climb the safe side however, you won’t need to worry about any of this!
Whatever side you do decide to take, make sure you heed any ‘No Trespassing’ signs you come across.
There’s a local landowner who is known to chase people on his quad bike when he sees them trespassing onto his side of the mountain.
Heed his signs however and you’ll be fine. Definitely pays to do your homework before you head off on a hike like this.
Another thing to be mindful of is livestock. If you bring a dog with you on this hike, don’t let it chase the sheep grazing on the mountainside. If you’re visiting during the latter stages of the year, the sheep may be ‘in lamb’ i.e. they’re pregnant. Any kind of stress could cause them to miscarry.
Even though the day was slightly overcast, the views from the top were still beautiful and definitely worth all the extra effort I inflicted on myself by climbing up the wrong side!
Fortunately, I got back down just in time.
As I walked through the little forest beneath the mountain, a blanket of fog had started to descend upon the mountain top.
The forest walkway beneath Ben Bulben is really beautiful.
Even if you don’t want to climb the mountain, it’s still worth visiting for this walkway alone as you can still enjoy some of the most amazing views from here.
As you make your way through the forest, Ben Bulben starts to peek through the branches and even that particular sight is worth the trip.
Following the climb, we paid a visit to Drumcliffe Cemetery, the famous burial grounds of WB Yeats and his wife, George.
There are countless graves in the Drumcliffe churchyard but it’s quite easy to locate that of WB Yeats. As you approach the church door, the resting place of WB is situated just to the left.
The grave itself is so simplistic and beautiful.
Despite the fact that it’s the final resting place of one of Ireland’s greatest ever writers, there’s not even the faintest hint of pompousness, and definitely no demonstration of grandiose or flamboyance.
It’s really peaceful, and above all, really beautiful.