Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Cardiac Steps and Torc Mountain

On Sunday 14 Oct on a beautiful clear morning, with a slight touch of frost we left town at 08.30. We were headed to Muckross House in Killarney. As the morning fog along the Blackwater valley burned off, the Derrynasaggart mountains were in sharp relief against a blue sky to our left, in front of us the Reeks could be seen.
Arriving at Muckross we changed into our gear,and went to the cafe for tea / coffee. Outside the windows the lush parklands stretched out before us, with Torc Mountain as a backdrop. The summit of Torc Mountain at 535 meters was to be the highest point of our walk.
The first part of the walk took us through gravel paths on level ground before we crossed the N 71.
Then we were climbing gradually through woodland and finally we reached the path on our left. This is the start of what seems a never ending stone staircase. Up and up they go all the while fantastic views of the lakes coming into view behind us. On our right buried somewhere in the dense

undergrowth,the gurgling sound of water can be heard through the laboured breathing. Up up they go no hiding place here. Finally we reach level ground. Taking a breather here and some photos.
We continue eastwards across the northern face of Torc, loosing some hard won altitude as we go.
 Reaching the Old Kenmare Road we set our course South west along the valley between Mangerton and Torc. Then we turn right at the sign for a Torc and follow the sleepered path in a zig zag route to the summit. There are a few false summits along the way. The view from the top was breathtaking Killarney and the lakes to the north. The Reeks to the west, away towards Kenmare to the south. To the east the Ballyhoura and Galtees could be seen. I may be wrong but I think that Mount Hillary was also visible. The weather was excellent and the views were crystal clear no haze. We ate and relaxed for a while taking in the views. Being such a good day there was a great mixture of people about. From foreign tourists to locals to day trippers like ourselves. Both young and not so young. I spotted one little man , dummy in mouth walking up not a bother on him.
We retraced our steps. This being rutting season the throaty roars of the stags could be heard from the slopes of Mangerton. As starry eyed stags went in search of willing does...Rutting comes from the Latin Rugire meaning to roar...With testosterone levels high the stags can be very dangerous and aggressive at this time and are best avoided.

We reached the old Kenmare Road and took the route that would pass by Torc Waterfall. With the Owengarriffe river rushing headlong to the falls on our left, we continued down the stepped path. There was the usual swarm of tourists around the waterfall.
We crossed the N71 into the grounds of Muckross and made our way back to the car park.
It was a great days walking in ideal conditions.

“ Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
   Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees “........... John Muir.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Cumeengeera Horseshoe

Now that my biro has dried out the blog can finally be written. On Saturday 15 Sept. the club had originally planned to do the Gougane Barra loop,however it was changed to the Cumeengeera Horseshoe route. This is in the rugged Beara peninsula bordering Cork and Kerry. We set off westwards towards Kenmare on a dry morning.
Arriving in Kenmare we stopped for tea / coffee, before heading through Lauragh and to the start of the hike at Shronebirrane stone circle. This is at the head of Rabach’s glen.  Called after Cornelius “Rabach” o Sullivan. Rabach means violent in Irish and Con earned his nickname well. In 1800 he murdered a sailor who called to his door one bad stormy wet night looking for shelter. He later murdered a woman who had witnessed the crime and had threatened to inform the police. Eventually he was caught and hanged in Tralee Gaol in 1831.... We climbed the Horseshoe in an anti clockwise direction. The weather was excellent but the climb was a thigh burning slog to reach the 490 meter mark. On then to the ridge leading to Tooth mountain. We traversed to the north of the summit then headed south west to Coomacloghane. There was a stiff headwind but we made steady progress. The views were absolutely fantastic towards the Iveragh Peninsula and beyond Valencia island and the Schellig. South towards Kilcrohane  and the Sheep’s Head.  Across to the East we could pick out the Paps. It was a glorious day to be on the hills and all the effort to climb paid off. On we went keeping the Cummeengeera glen to our left. Following the ridge to Eskatarriff summit all the while spectacular views alround. Eskatarriff east top was next. To our right the rocky ledges of Hungry hills north flank could be seen as well as Glanmore lake. We altered our course here and instead of heading north east over the summit of Lackabane, it was decided to contour around it. In hindsight this was not a good idea. However hindsight always has 20/20 vision.We continued on hoping to pick up the route but ominous clouds formed and soon the rain came pouring down... with a fairly strong gale... Suddenly a great day out was fast becoming not such a great one. Thoughts of Con “Rabach” passed through our head and the faith of the poor sailor caught in similar circumstances...We regrouped and it was decided that we would exit the mountain as fast and as safely as possible..This we did and while we did not get down where we had intended. We got down safe and well...After an extra bit of unintentional road walking and the assistance of a passing motorist we reached the cars.
While our pride may have been dented, everyone really enjoyed the day and the views. It’s a good call to exit the moutain quickly when bad weather sets in....

   “ It feels good to be lost....in the right direction “ .............Anon.

Ps. No photos camera waterlogged.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Caherconree & Club Barbecue

For the club outing on Sunday 02/09/18 we travelled west to Camp in County Kerry. Our walk was to the summit of Caherconree. 835 meters over sea level this is the second highest mountain in the Slieve Mish mountains and is the 26 th highest peak in Ireland...lt was a bright clear day when we left town at 08.00.... Someone said the forecast was for passing showers in the Dingle peninsula...how right they were...they omitted however to say how long it would take them to pass. Approaching Blenerville there was a beautiful rainbow over the windmill. But the summit of Caherconree was shrouded in cloud..We stopped here to have coffe / tea. Refreshed we continued to Camp village and turned left up bothhar na gCloch ( Road of the Stones ). Parking up there was some rain so we put on our wet gear... Conditions underfoot were quite boggy and as we made our way uphill the rain
became persistent and heavy.. eventually reaching cloud level visibility was reduced and we arrived at the remains of the stone fort of Cu Roi mac Daire the legendary sorcerer and king of Munster who apparently lived during the Iron Age.The fort is situated about two thirds of the way, it is a national monument, and a protected structure. The mountain bears his name. Using his magic he could rotate the fort to  confuse his enemies... He was a buddy of CĂșchulainn until they fell out over a woman. CĂșchulainn killed him...
With the rain now coming down we trudged up the steep climb to the summit. On a clear day the views from here would take in both sides of the peninsula. Today it was not to be... After a quick stop for photos we retraced our steps. Reaching the fort we had a wet lunch ,before beating a hasty retreat back to the cars..... Here while trying to change out of our sopping clothes, our misery was compounded by 10 million midgets that were waiting to greet us... Cursing and scratching in a cloud of insect repellent we managed to change...While the midgets ingratiated themselves into every opening available to them..
Finally reaching the sanctuary of the Junction Bar the mood lightened considerably as we eat our chowder, fish and chips and had a pint.

Reaching Kanturk we continued home to get ready for the club BBQ in the Alley Bar...at approx 18.00 we assembled for what was looking like it was going to be Ireland’s first vegan BBQ. However the day was saved when plan B was put into action and soon the delicious smell of cooking sausages and burgers whafted around the bar.... A banquet fit for a king was laid out before us and we all had our fill.  A special word of thanks to the people who prepared all the food, and well done to the chef..
There was a great amount of work behind the scenes to put it together....So thanks again. Thanks to the Alley bar also.... I think it’s fair to say everyone enjoyed the evening....What ever about the day.

 “ You need special shoes for hiking —and a bit of a special soul as well”
...........Terri Guillemets

Monday, 20 August 2018

Carrauntoohill Climb

On Sunday 19th August we headed west for our walk. Leaving town at 08.00 we journeyed to Killarney,where we met up with some more members. Unlike previous walks the gender balance was biased towards the men.We had a break for tea / coffee and then set of in convoy for Cronin’s yard. Here after some more refreshments, we finally worked out the logistics of conveying our group to the start of the walk at the hydro road, and returning transport to Cronin’s yard for the end of walk. There should be an app for this...

Finally kitted out we started the thigh burning climb up the hydro road. This is a steep hard slog up the slope of Cnoc Iochtar. After awhile the path turns right and the climb eases off. Eventually you cross a gate and arrive at the old hydro dam at Lough Iochtar at 438 meters.Crossing the outlet we set our course South across some boggy ground then turning South South Eastwards to gain the ridge leading to Caher West top at 975 meters. On our left 500 meters below us was Coomloughra lake shrouded in fog.To our right the Bridia valley also hidden from view. We descended a little then climbed again to reach the summit of Caher the third highest peak in Ireland at 1001 meters. Occasionally the veil of cloud lifted slightly, to afford us tantalizing views to the valley floor. Onwards we trudged around the rim. Descending from Caher we reached a coll, before the short climb up to the Summit of Carrauntoohill....
Here there was quite a crowd so after taking some photos, we began our retreat down towards the Devils ladder. Passing the top of the ladder we continued to the summit of Cnoc na Toinne at 845 meters...
We picked up the zig zag path and began our descent. This time the zig zag presented no difficulty. Unlike our previous decent which was in icy and snow covered conditions.....

Finally reaching the valley floor we trekked back to Cronin’s yard for a welcome tea / coffee. We managed to see the final few minutes of the All Ireland, where Limerick stumbled over the line to claim victory. We then picked up the cars we had left at the Hydro road car park. Then made our way homeward. It was a great walk. Unfortunately the visibility was poor....but that’s the luck of the draw on the mountains....All in all not a bad day out with the highest and third highest peaks in Ireland conquered.Thanks to the leaders.

       “ Going to the mountains, is going home” ........ John Muir.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Coumshingaun loop

For the club outing on Sunday 5th August we travelled east to County Waterford. We left town at 08.00 headed to Kilclooney wood. Stopping  in the heritage town of Lismore for tea /coffee. The weather was a little overcast, but with a promise of sun.
Arriving at an overflowing car park at Kilclooney we were lucky to find parking. It was evident that more people than us had heard the call of the hills...
We changed into our hiking gear, and took the path that meanders through the forest.Reaching a forest road we turned right, and passed the fake tree which disguises a communication mast.
Eventually we reached a stile and turning left up a boulder strewn dry river bed..
Then the serious climb began. Our first destination was a prominent rock shaped like a rabbit, or frog depending on how vivid  your imagination is...This was a conversation killer and we made steady progress... Reaching the rock we made our way to the rocky ridge that rises to the south of Coumshingaun Lake.This is a steep climb. To our right the lake came into view. Coumshingaun Lake is apparently one of the best examples of a Corrie lake in Western Europe. Reaching the first of the rocky outcrops,  we rested up and admired the rich pastures of Waterford stretched out below us. Upwards we went to another prominent outcrop, then our route leveled out a little. This made for pleasant walking above the great gullies that thumble down to the lake hundreds of meters below.
One final steep ascent now barred our way. This had to be negotiated with the utmost care,as sheer drops yawned left and right to swallow the unwary climber. It was here that the camaraderie and fraternity that exists within the hillwalking community became evident. With strangers sharing their experience and helping one another to overcome obstacles. Finally we reached the broad expanse of 
the Comeragh plateau. We were on Fauscoum Mountain the highest point in the Comeraghs at 792 meters. However we did not go to the summit which was five hundred meters further on due west.
Our route was along the back wall of the lake with a sheer drop of 365 meters to the brooding lake.
Here we were literally above the clouds, and it made for very atmospheric walking, with the sun playing hide and seek. On a clear day one can see as far as Hook Head in Wexford, and the Waterford coast. However there was a haze in the distance today...We continued around the rim of the lake and decided to have lunch when we got to the rocky outcrop at Stookangarriffe ridge..


This is a long knee jarring descent with heather and rocks making it a long slow slog downhill.
Reaching the sanctuary of the rocks, people found their own comfortable niche. Back packs were opened and we feasted on sandwiches, biscuits, cake etc. All finished of with a desert of bilberries foraged from the mountain. Organic food at its best.
Bilberries also known as Fraochans or Whorts are the wild cousins of the Blueberry.
In Ireland especially during the World wars there was a thriving industry exporting them to Britain.
Fighter pilots were convinced that their nighttime vision was improved by eating bilberry produce. Whole parishes took to the hills picking them. They were sold to local dealers who cleaned and exported them. It was said that bilberry money paid off long standing shop bills, bought schoolbooks, bicycles and even provided dowries.In 1941 there were 400 ton exported.
Rested and refreshed we continued, our route was downhill now. Through a boulder strewn path then onto a steep grassy slope where the path disappeared. Then it was a case of slip sliding away down to level ground. We crossed the stream that exits the lake and contoured around the slope. After awhile the frog or rabbit rock came into view. We passed this and made for the corner of the forestry. Finding the boulder strewn riverbed we eventually reached the forest track that brought us back to the car park . We changed out of our hiking gear and it was decided to go to Foley’s on the mall in Lismore  for some refreshments.......Eventually after some navigation problems we all made it. The food here was superb. Our chowder experts gave it a thumbs up. Refreshed we made our way home.. It was a really fantastic day out and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was great to see such a large turnout, and some new members...
     We don’t stop hiking because we grow old
      We grow old because we stop hiking.......................Finis Mitchel

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Gleninchaquin Park

The club outing on Sunday 29 July was to Gleninchaquin Park in the north west side of the beautiful Beara Peninsula. We left town at  08.00 in some what overcast conditions, with a smattering of rain.

Undaunted we travelled west towards Barraduff. Turning for Glenflesk then through Healy Rea country . We stopped in Kenmare for coffee / tea and to stretch our legs.
Refreshed we carried on. Turning  left after a few miles into Gleninchiquin Valley. This long narrow coomb valley was formed approx 70000 years ago by glaciers. The roadway into the head of the valley is a winding torturous route, a test of driving skills which thankfully all our drivers passed with flying colors. By now the weather had brightened, and with Cloonee Loughs  and Inchaquin lake to our right and the majestic 140 meter waterfall tumbling down to the valley floor in front of us, we knew we were in for a treat. After the recent rain the waterfall was in full spate.
Reaching the car park we changed into our gear and followed the yellow route ( Upper valley route).
This took us across the stream at the bottom of the waterfall, that feeds the lakes we passed on our way in. Gleninchiquin is a remote valley with no access for tour busses , so it is not over run by camera toting yanks...Our route took us upwards into the mountains above the waterfall. As we gained height the views opened up across to Kenmare Bay and the Macgillycuddy Reeks.
Below us the valley floor with its verdant fields and brooding lakes...The weather was perfect for walking and visibility was excellent. Conditions underfoot varied from stoney tracks to boggy ground and everything in between. Parts of it were on exposed rock and could be slippery. The trail was well way marked, except at the start which was marked out for the red trail only. However when you reached where the red and yellow trail diverged it was well marked from here.
The route went up hill and down hill each step unfolding incredible views, over the Caha Mountains, and the Beara Peninsula.
We stopped for some welcome refreshments, and feasted our eyes on the scenery. A table with a view.
Onwards we went, finally we began to descend a series of stone steps, which after sometime brought us to the gate that leads to the river walk. This delightful walk meanders through woodland,by a stream gushing down through a series of mini waterfalls and rock pools. Leaving the river walk we reached the lane which took us to the car park.
Gleninchiquin Park is a privately owned and has been open for fifteen years. The family that own it have been farming here for five generations over 130 years. It’s an idyllic place that hasn’t suffered from over exploitation.
 We decided to stop at Foleys in Kenmare for food. It was an excellent choice. The food here was delicious.
We headed for home. It was a great day out one we will definitely have to do again.....
The only downer was that after an epic battle with Limerick, Cork bowed out of the championship.

“ It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves “.  ..........Sir Edmund Hillary


Monday, 9 July 2018

Mount Brandon

On Sunday July 8th the club outing was to Mount Brandon in the Dingle Peninsula. At 952 meters this mountain is just 86 meters shy of Carrauntoohil. It is a formidable mountain and it dominates the peninsula. Rising up from sea level to its majestic summit.
Leaving town at 08.00 on a bright morning, we had high hopes that we would have cloudless views from the summit. The mountain is notorious for its cloud covered head. We had reports that the summit had been  clear all week.
We stopped at a filling station in Blenerville for coffee / tea and  to meet up with members who had travelled from other areas.
A few kilometers outside Tralee we met some light rain. Imagine in Ireland it was a talking point in the car....we had actually seen some rain..the sky darkened.
After some time the sky brightened again. Passing through Cloghane we turned left up to our starting point at Faha. Here we got lucky as we found enough room to park in the small car park.
Changing into our gear we could see that the summit was covered in fog. Undeterred we made our way. The last time the club did this mountain we took the Saints Road from Baile Breic.

This was for some of us a new route. The path is well way marked with yellow arrows painted on the rocks and white posts.  It is a well trodden route, no navigation skills ( or Taxis ) are required.
After leaving the car park you come to a beautifully maintained grotto.  Erected as a result of a pilgrim climb in the Marion year of 1952. A Tralee man John O Connor who took part, was inspired to create a grotto. With the help of local young men and women from Cloghane and surrounding areas, his dream eventually came to fruition. He cycled the 50 mile round trip from Tralee each Sunday to supervise the building. ...... A different era.
The route continues along a gentle slope until it reaches a large glaciated valley surrounded by towering cliffs.The valley floor is punctuated with a series of small lakes.
The views over the Dingle Peninsula are awesome and the village of Cloghane lay below us in the distance.
Reaching the top of the valley we crossed the stream, we could see a rocky eroded path rising up to our left. This would bring us onto a col, turning left it’s only another 150 meters to the summit.
The short climb to the col is the most difficult part of the treck. Care must be exercised here.
The fog had not cleared when we reached the top... This is a sacred place and in pagan times the festival of Lughnasa was celebrated here... Saint Brendan built a small oratory here and spent 40 days meditating before his voyage to the New World...... I think he would have second thoughts about going there now..
 Barr an Turas is how the summit is known locally in the Irish language. Meaning “ top of the journey”. It refers to Mount Brandon being the ultimate destination for the pilgrim. Reaching the top of Brandon is no mean achievement. Well done to all involved. We also learned at the summit that some lady’s (Phil ) ashes are interred near the Cross on top. Apparently she loved to climb Brandon. RIP.
Retracing our steps we had lunch in a shady spot before we began our decent to the valley.
Reaching the car park we changed. It was decided to go to Thomasins bar for some welcome refreshments. The food was good here and everyone one seemed to enjoy it.
A member had a significant birthday so he was presented with a beautiful dessert complete with one candle, accompanied by a chorus of  “ Happy birthday “. Thanks a nice touch...

Hiking is a bit like life:
The journey only requires you put one foot
in front of the other.....again and again and again.
And if you allow yourself opportunity to be present
throughout the entirety of the trek , you will witness
beauty every step of the way, not just at the summit.................Unknown