Slieve Bloom Mountains

Slieve Bloom Mountains

Slieve Bloom Mountains

The Slieve Bloom Mountains straddle the Counties of Laois and Offaly. On paper these low lying hills at first sight may appear unappealing however nothing could be further from the truth.


Slieve Bloom Mountains


These hills provide some stunning scenery which belies their stature and a host of wildlife including our only native reptile, the Viviparous Lizard, a hard enough creature to spot at any time.

Slieve Bloom Mountains


In comparison with Wicklow which may have traffic jams at the Sally and Wicklow Gaps during the height of the summer season it is often possible to cycle the Slieve Blooms on a lovely summers day without meeting a car depending upon the time you are out.


Slieve Bloom Mountains


For the cyclist there are three pass's through the Slieve Bloom Mountains each of which can be tackled from either direction and multiple start points, The Cut, Wolftrap Mountain, and Glendine Gap.

Slieve Bloom Mountains

Slieve Bloom Mountains,Laois


Both Wolftrap Mountain and The Cut are nice climbs without being too taxing on the legs with the Cut being the somewhat gentler climb of the two.



Giants Grave, Slieve Bloom Mountains


Glendine Gap is a much longer but gentler climb from the Kinnitty direction but from its opposite side (the New Road / Mountrath side) it is considerable shorter however makes up for this by way of several extremely steep ramps just over 20% gradient. It makes a great spot for hill repeats, more so since the road has been resurfaced. If visiting Glendine Gap be careful you take the correct route as many of the signs to it are misdirected (at least they were when last I cycled it).


Slieve Bloom Mountains


There is a multitude of wildlife to be seen in the Slieve Blooms and deer in particular have on several occasions bounded onto the road in front of me leading to evasive action on the bike. The descent of Glendine Gap down to the New Road is particularly steep with a few twists and turns so caution is advised.


Slieve Bloom Mountains


Two of the photos above are from a small side road just off Wolftrap. I sometimes use this for short hill repeats. It is only about 60 metres long but the gradient must surely be around 25% so it makes for a great workout. The turn can be recognised by its wooden "Ranch" style fencing. (Update : as of Feb 2019 I see a notice has gone up declaring it as a private entrance. There's a Coillte track which cuts through the road so I don't know its proper status.)


Slieve Bloom Mountains, Laois


Arderin is the highest point in the Slieve Blooms standing at 527 mts and the mountains themselves are among some of the oldest mountains in Europe. There are several old abandoned natural stone houses to be found in the Slieve Blooms and easily spotted from the various forest trails. There is also a small grouping of these old type stone houses gathered together and bounded by an old wall and horse (donkey) and cart trail, though this particular group of houses would be difficult to find as it is buried deep in the woods and covered in rambling wild shrubbery. I stumbled on it quite by accident on foot.


Slieve Bloom Mountains


There is also what looks like an old R.I.C. barracks to be found hidden away in the hills. Life here must have been subsistence farming and very difficult indeed. I have no information to hand on these communities other than one family who were the last to leave the area in the 1960's, the Clear family. Their old house is easily seen from the forest trails below Capard ridge and has a small plaque on it.


Slieve Bloom Mountains


By road Capard ridge itself is a dead end but the nature of its short steep climb makes this road too an ideal place for a few hill repeats and its well worth a visit for the views alone.


Slieve Bloom Mountains


Irish mythology holds that Finn MacCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill) , the Fianna leader, was raised in the Slieve Bloom Mountains and indeed Ballyfin village beside the hills is ascribed as Finn's birthplace.