Leave No Trace Principles on Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick is an iconic feature of the Mayo landscape of significant natural, cultural, and spiritual importance. Croagh Patrick is Ireland’s holiest mountain, named after Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick, and his pilgrimage on the mountain in 441AD, where he spent 40 days and 40 nights.
The mountain, also known as “The Reek”, is one of Ireland’s most popular climbs, attracting over 120,000 visitors a year. There are traditional pilgrimage days, which take place each year on Garland Friday (the Friday before Reek Sunday), Reek Sunday (the last Sunday in July) and August 15th. More information on pilgrimages on Croagh Patrick can be found on the Westport Parish website.
Like all outdoor sites, high volumes of visitors will bring increased impacts to that environment. Impacts to Croagh Patrick include litter, trampling and erosion, human waste, impacts to farm animals, and damage to property and natural objects. Due to its popularity and the slippery, rocky surface towards the summit, accidents and emergencies are a frequent impact on the mountain too, putting increased strain on the volunteer Mayo Mountain Rescue team and the vulnerable upland habitat.
Whenever we visit Croagh Patrick, we all have an obligation to support the conservation of the mountain for future generations, while taking responsibility for our own personal safety. Visitors should always follow the instructions and guidance of the Mayo Mountain Rescue, Mountaineering Ireland, the Order of Malta Westport, and stewards present on pilgrimage days. Volunteer Croagh Patrick Ambassadors are currently being recruiting, who will be present during the year to also give instructions and guidance to visitors too.
By following the Leave No Trace Principles, we can all play our part in enjoying our visit to Croagh Patrick safely and responsibly.
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare for your Croagh Patrick climb:
- Where possible, travel by public transport, share cars or cycle; consider the availability of parking.
- As a very popular destination, please plan your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Keep group numbers small; split larger parties into smaller groups.
- Know before you go! Follow the advice on weather, equipment, planning and preparation from Mayo Mountain Rescue.
- The weather can change quickly and significantly on the mountain, pack some warm and waterproof clothes no matter the forecast.
- There are limited toilet facilities on Croagh Patrick. Ensure you use the toilets available in the car park before you start your climb.
- Use our Hiking Checklist to ensure you have all you need for your Croagh Patrick Climb.
2. Be Considerate of Others
- Respect the people of Murrisk, who live and work in the area.
- Share Croagh Patrick – Pay attention, expect to encounter others and be courteous. We all enjoy the mountain in different ways.
- Respect any signs and regulations on Croagh Patrick.
- Take care not to damage property, such as the church, walls and fences.
- Let nature’s sounds prevail. Keep noise to a minimum.
- Be respectful towards the landowners and accede to their requests and instructions at all times but especially during lambing season.
3. Respect farm animals and wildlife
- Dogs are NOT permitted on Croagh Patrick (with the exception of guide dogs).
- Do not approach any farm animals or wildlife on the mountain. They are a wonderful part of Croagh Patrick and should be allowed to go about their day as undisturbed as possible.
- Never feed farm animals or wildlife – our food damages their health.
4. Travel and camp on durable ground
- Stick to the trail and keep as close to the centre as possible. Do this even if the trail is wet or muddy. Doing so will help to mitigate erosion and scarring of the mountain.
- Camping is not permitted on Croagh Patrick.
- Thanks to the amazing work of the Croagh Patrick Path Team under the Sustainable Access and Habitat Restoration Project, visitors can now use parts of the newly restored path to reach the summit of Croagh Patrick. Using this path will further reduce the effects of erosion and protect the upland habitat. (Restoration work still in progress).
5. Leave what you find
- Take only pictures, your memories of a wonderful experience will be the best souvenirs to take home with you.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects where you find them, and as you find them. Please do not tag/graffiti rocks and other objects on Croagh Patrick.
- Do not build structures.
6. Dispose of waste properly
- There are no bins on the mountain, anything you bring up, take it back down again. Pack away all rubbish, tea bags, and fruit peels. Bring them home, and dispose of them there.
- Even biodegradable items left on the mountain can cause serious health issues for animals and are unsightly for other visitors.
- There are limited toilets facilities on Croagh Patrick. Should you need to go to the toilet in the wild when climbing Croagh Patrick, ensure you know the safe ways of how to dispose of human waste in advance of your climb (check out Page 16 of the Leave No Trace Skills and Ethics for more information). Always maintain a minimum of 60 metres from the nearest watercourse and be considerate that the mountain streams provide drinking water for the local residents in the village of Murrisk.
7. Minimise the effects of fire
- Fires are not permitted. Please do not light any fires on Croagh Patrick.
The Croagh Patrick Ambassadors will be encouraging visitors to follow the Leave No Trace Principles when climbing Croagh Patrick, and will have guidance on how to best follow them.
Funded by The Heritage Council:
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