Diamond Hill – More than a Hill Walk

diamond hill Adrian 180Diamond Hill, just over 440 meters high, is located in the Connemara Nation Park, Letterfrack, Co Galway. It is a walk I like to undertake regularly. It is just a 1.5 hour’s drive from my home in Galway City. It is much more that a hill walking experience. The drive to Letterfrack takes you through Oughterard, a town which attracts many tourists who visit Connemara. After passing through Oughterard, you experience the real Connemara and its many mountains and lakes. The drive takes me through the Inagh Valley, and its breath-taking scenery never fails to impress. The valley includes Lough Inagh, and the valley separates the Twelve Bens from the Maamturk Mountains. Lough Inagh is a renowned fishing lake. It is a lovely location that is surrounded by mountains in the heart of Connemara.

The National Park in Letterfrack has plenty to offer apart from hill walking. The exhibitions on the Connemara landscape in the Visitors Centre are always a popular attraction. Families enjoy the picnic area and playgrounds. On my last visit in June 2022, two Connemara ponies with their very young foals were basking in the sun as I headed for the hills.
diamond hill loops 250There are a few optional loop walks. The loop walk that takes you to the Diamond Hill summit is the longest and most demanding. In the past I could complete the climb in one hour and complete the decent in less than an hour. In recent times I get the distinct impression that Diamon Hill is becoming higher and steeper that it was in the past. Perhaps it is me that that has changed and not the climb!

The length of round trip is 7.5km approximately. The route is well laid out and includes gravel paths, wooden boardwalks, stone steps and some rock climbing at various stages of the climb. There were many Irish and International tourists on the climb on my last visit in June.

Back in 2011, when Jumelages Galway hosted our European Jumelages friends, we visited Letterfrack National Park. On that occasion, we were out of luck as the weather conditions were poor and we had plenty of the West of Ireland rain. A few brave Jumelages members undertook the shorter loop walk and we enjoyed our picnic in the Visitors Centre and a shot of Bailey’s Cream Liqueur for dessert!

diamond hill path 250The climb is demanding, and I was fortunate to be able to take in the spectacular scenery on my recent climb as the weather conditions were more favourable than was the case in 2011. The scenery changes as I make my way to the summit. The superb views of the Atlantic Ocean and the numerous islands including Inishboffin and Inishturk are well worth the climb on a clear day. In addition the views of the Twelve Bens, Mweelrea and Tully Mountains are spectacular. The strenuous climb provides me with plenty of opportunities to pause for a rest every now and then and take in the impressive Connemara scenery. On reaching the summit, I always enjoy a well-earned picnic, without the Baileys Cream, while taking in the 360° panoramic views of the Connemara landscape, including Kylemore Abbey.

diamond hill lake 250After 20 minutes or so I begin my decent. The decent is very steep at the initial stages and great care is required. After 15 minutes of so, the route is very safe, and the quietness and solitude is majestic as I am surrounded by the Twelve Bens Mountains and the Connemara bogs. The satisfaction of having reached the summit in addition to appreciating the breath-taking scenery cap off the remainder off the decent.

A satisfying day out. On this occasion in June, it took me 1 hour 7 minutes to reach the summit and an hour and 5 minutes to decent. All in all well worth the outing.

 Adrian Harney
Jumelages Galway
July 2022