Sunday, 5 May 2019

Moylussa & Logh Derg

On Sunday 5 th. May the club outing was to Moylussa in County Clare. On a lovely brisk morning we left town at 08.30 and headed to Limerick. Then on to the M7 turning off at the Killaloe / Ballina junction. Here we stopped at the Applegreen service station for tea / coffee. We then continued to Ballina crossing the mighty Shannon over the 13 arch stone bridge into Killaloe in the Banner county of Clare.Birthplace of Brian Boro 941-1014 high king of Ireland from 1002 until his untimely death at Clontarf in1014. Brian ruled Ireland from Killaloe which was effectively capital of Ireland that time. Another man born here was the legendary Keith Wood , Ireland captain, Munster and Lions hooker. Keith opened a coffee shop here in 2018.
Turning right in Killaloe we continued to the car park at Ballycuggarn Wood on the banks of Lough Derg. It’s claimed that the oak from this area was used to roof Westminister  Hall. Much of the oak was used for shipbuilding and to feed the fires of the iron furnaces. The oak forests are long gone.The name Ballycuggarn dates back to the 10 century and is called after the  O’ Cuggeran family supporters of Brian Boru.

 After changing into our hiking gear we crossed the busy road and proceeded on a path upwards under a canopy of beech. As we gained altitude the broad expanse of Lough Derg sparkled in the sun below us. Starting at almost sea level the climb is steep. The views as we climb are stunning.
Beech now gives way to Sitka spruce , Norway spruce , and Nobel fir. Part of this climb follows the East Clare way marked with the ubiquitous yellow man markers. ( One wonders how long before the PC brigade insist they be called the yellow person markers ).
We are now contouring the northern flank of Feenlea mountain. Eventually we leave the forest path and venture onto open mountain. After some time we came to a sleepered section which leads to a stone stating a height of 1748 ft. However apparently this is not the highest point. This is a little further on.
We decided to push on to the official summit at 532 meters.This turned out to be featureless. However there were panoramic views from here. Northwards Scarriff , Mountshannon and County Galway . To the west the Shannon estuary. Eastward the Arra mountains and the Silvermines. To the south the Galtees. We decided to have a break and refreshments here. Refreshed , with the weather so fine we continued south westwards to the summit of Cragnamurragh at 526 meters. Here we were rewarded with picture post card scenery. Proving that no county has a monopoly on beauty. Though clever marketing may try to persuade us otherwise. Here there is a trig point to mark the summit, unlike Moylussa. This trig point has an interesting history. According to the Dublin Evening Post in 1828 the local community of Glenomera helped the Ordinance Surveyors to build the trig station.
Apparently a large crowd ascended on the mountain “ Borne up by music from flutes , pipes and violins , and accompanied by young women carrying laurel leaves “. However the locals insisted in calling the trig point after Daniel  O’ Connell the Liberator. The Surveyors were not welcome in most places as the were representatives of the Crown,and were a branch of the military. Today there were no flutes or pipes or young women carrying laurel leaves.  We savored the views. There was a steep drop to the south. After relaxing here we retraced our steps north eastward. Skirting the summit of Moylussa we came to the plaque at the end of the sleepered section and proceeded down the mountain. Below us the Mediterranean blue Lough Derg was resplendent in the sun. We encountered many walkers on our hike. Young and old enjoying the sunshine. Finally we reached the car park. Again there were lots of people about enjoying the wonderful countryside.
We changed and it was decided to call to the Lake Hotel in Ballina for tea / coffee. There was a great buzz in the twin towns of a Killaloe / Ballina. People enjoying the Bank holiday weekend.
There was a slight mix up and some ended up in Flanagan’s and more in the Lake Hotel. However this did in no way spoil what was a wonderful day out. Everyone enjoyed a fabulous hike in glorious weather in the Banner county. These are the days that make it all worthwhile.

          “ A walk
          in nature
      walks the soul
        back home “.................. Mary Davis

Monday, 22 April 2019

Knockmealdown 2019

On Saturday 20 th April the club outing was to the Knockmealdown mountains. We left town on a beautiful morning. Traveling through Mitchelstown , Ballyporeen and Clogheen to arrive at our starting point below Bay Lough. Changing into our walking gear, we headed south through the rhododendrons up a fairly steep incline. Finally our path leveled out and the corrie lake of Bay Lough   was spread out before us. The surrounding hills reflected in its brooding dark waters. There is a haunting beauty about it. The lake is reported to be bottomless. It also said to be frequented by a 19 th century lady called Petticoat Loose. This lady of ill repute is supposed to have been banished by the local parish priest. ( Didn’t they rule the roost back then ). Her punishment was to empty the lake with a thimble. At twilight she can sometimes be seen on the far bank trying to tryin to accomplish her impossible task. ( A bit like Teresa May. Poor woman ).
Skirting the lake we climbed gradually up to the large car park, on the Tipperary Waterford border. There were lots of people around enjoying the summer like weather. Runners, walkers, scramble bikers each to their own, taking advantage of the mountains.
Crossing the road we had a sharp climb up Sugarloaf hill, after awhile we veered eastwards to reach the coll between Sugarloaf and Knockmealdown. The weather was warm and sunny. Conditions underfoot were excellent. Reaching the wall that marks the boundaries of Waterford and Tipperary we followed it to the summit of Knockmealdown at 794 meters. The highest point in Waterford.
From here you can see the rich farmland of Tipperary and the Galtee mountains to the north. To the south Waterford and Cork with the Blackwater snaking seaward between them. The south coast by Youghal and Dungarvin can also be seen .However there was a heat haze in the distance which limited our visibility. Nevertheless the views were stunning with a rich tapestry of lush country spread out below us.
After a while our attention was drawn to a small figure in the valley to the north. Heading towards the steep slope up the side of Knockmealdown. The hiker began climbing at a steady pace uphill. Never faltering. He had all our attention now as he relentlessly continued upwards. We watched him until he finally crested the ridge...
Refreshed we retraced our steps and headed towards Sugarloaf. On our way we met the man who had unknowingly kept us entertained during our lunch break. All he wanted was a drink of water which he was gladly given.
We continued on to the summit of Sugarloaf from there we headed north down a well defined path.
This was knee jarring in places but eventually leveled off as we came to Grubbs monument.
Samuel Grubb was interred here standing upright in 1921. According to his wishes.
Apparently Samuel people had been Quakers. But they had been removed from the Quakers for
“ engaging in amusements or entertainments of a hurtful or injurious tendency “ more specifically for attending Balls at which music and dancing form a chief part and which are forbidden by the rules of the Society..... Not much cracic in the Quakers.
On reaching the Vee we made our way by road walk to the car.
It was decided to stop at Hallys bar in Clogheen to see the Munster v Saracens match and some tea coffee. Hallys is an iconic bar. However they had Sky but no food. The Firgrove in Mitchelstown had food but no Sky... people decided to forgo the match..
A great days walking in brilliant weather.

               Listen to the silence
                      Be still
            and let your soul catch up...........Scottish proverb

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Derrycunnihy to Peakeen

Sunday 7 th April the club walk was from Derrycunnihy to Peakeen mountain.Leaving town on a sunny crisp morning the temperature was one degree. Traveling west the mountains were obscured by fog. However by Rathmore the fog had lifted and the Derrynasaggart Mountains were revealed in all their glory. The temperature was also rising by Barraduff it had reached three degrees.
Eventually we reached our parking spot at Derrycunnihy church. It was now a pleasant sunny day and the mercury was at seven. Derrycunnihy church was built in 1890 and served as a Catholic Church.
It is now in disuse and sadly falling into disrepair. It has a fine copper covered spire. It is a beautiful building that should be preserved and put to some use. There is a well known ghost story attached to it. Apparently several years ago a young girl was killed off her bicycle near it. She can be seen sometimes wandering around near the church dressed in white. Sometimes at night she can appear in a car that would pass that way. Only the driver of the car can see her,in the rear view mirror sitting in the back seat.No one else in the car would see her. Then when the car would pass where she had lived, she would vanish. Derrycunnihy is a remote and lonely place, I would certainly be in no hurry to drive that road late at night. If I saw her in the back seat, I’d be wandering around there myself the following night ....dead as well.

After putting on our gear we headed up to the old Kenmare road. This is a nineteenth century road from Kenmare to Killarney. Heading south the going was flat, we cris crossed a meandering stream. Then there was a pull as we ascended to the Windy gap. Ahead of us we could see the trig point at the summit of Peakeen at 555 meters, to our right. We were in the valley between Peakeen and Knockanaguish on our left. Altering our course, we headed south, southwest and up the rock scarred Eastern  flank of Peakeen. This is a sharp climb.There is no definitive path, but it is advisable to stay well to the right and away from the slabs of rock that guard the eastern approach to the summit. After a gut wrenching climb we reached the top of the ridge. From here the views are stunning. To the north in the valley immediately below us the paternoster lakes Erik Lough,Lough Nacunna and Glas Lough. Purple mountain in the distance. The Reeks to the northwest.
On the ridge we set our course south and after a final push reached the rocky summit of Peakeen, with it’s trig point perched on a slab of rock. Here we had a panoramic view. All the huffing and puffing was well rewarded. Kenmare Bay sparkled to south.  The Beara Peninsula and the  Caha mountains .
In the shelter of the rocks we had some refreshments. Then we retraced our steps and headed downhill. The terrain is steep here and care is needed. Thankfully everyone made it down safely.
On reaching the old Kenmare road it was a pleasant stroll back to the car park.
There were several groups on the mountain. Including some who had camped by the stream.
Coming along the old road the ruins of houses can be seen. Also walled in fields which must have been farmed long ago. It was a harsh environment to eke out a living, no suckler payments from Europe and no headage grants. No doubt the people who lived here gave their hard won few pence,to build the church that is now falling down at Derrycunnihy. Their descendants probably are in Boston or Sydney l hope life is kinder to them.
Arriving at the cars we changed. Some had other engagements while some of us continued to Mucross house for tea / coffee . It was a very enjoyable day in excellent weather for walking.
Definitely one to do again. I forgot to mention that we met lots of deer along the way as well as some sheep, lambs and wild goats of the four legged variety.

       “ Most people
          will talk the talk,
          few people will walk the walk;
          be amongst those few.”   ..........................Dr. Steve Maraboli

Monday, 25 February 2019

Up The Cardiac Steps & Onto Torc Mountain

On Sunday 24 February the club walk was on Torc Mountain in Killarney. We left town on a grey overcast day. As we traveled west the sky brightened. Reaching our destination we found the car park full. Some volunteers were engaged in clearing fallen timber, and battling with the ubiquitous rhododendrons.This invasive shrub is destroying the native habitat. Full marks to the volunteers who give of their time so that we can enjoy the national park. We had to park at the Torc Waterfall Park.
Today we had two options. One was to go up the Cardiac Steps , or to start at the old Kenmare road car park. There were no takers for the second option.
Suitably dressed we set off. Our path took us parallel to the N71,  we crossed it and continued  along a track until we came to a branch to the left. The steps start here.
From here it's practically straight up the north face of Torc Mt. , through woodland and rhododendrons. Behind us views of Kilarney's lakes opening up. Up & up the steps went, we pondered why we didn't take the second option , maybe we had made the wrong decision. As our lungs and legs ached. Still like the British & Brexit, even though we had doubts about our choice we ploughed on

Eventually the steps gave way to some level ground and we veered west. We met some more steps but then we continued down hill.  One thing about the Cardiac Steps route is that you loose most of your hard won altitude. When we turned south at the side of the mountain we were met with a fairly strong headwind. We continued along the old Kenmare road in the valley between Mangerton and Torc. Mangerton was shrouded with fog. Reaching the path to the right for Torc we regrouped. It was somewhat colder now so we put on an extra layer.
The path up the south flank of Torc is mostly sleepered. Below us the Old Kenmare road snakes through through the valley.
Finally we reached the summit at 535 meters. There was a sharp breeze, so we found some shelter.

Here we had refreshments. Thick fog was blowing, but occasionally the veil would lift slightly to offer tantalizing views of the lakes and the Black Valley. Torc Mountain is part of the Mangerton range. As any one from Kanturk area would know Torc means boar. Legend has it that Finn killed a boar with a golden spear on the mountain. We retraced our steps.

We turned right crossing the Owengarriffe river. Down we went with the river tumbling through the undergrowth below us to our left. Torc Waterfall came into view with the usual gaggle of tourists. Eventually we reached the car park.  It was a good day out and the weather held up. Nice to see such big group out. Young and young at heart... Rugby and Soccer matches on TV meant that people were anxious to get home so the usual tea / coffee was not really an option.

  “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth  with your feet “ .......Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, 11 February 2019

Ballyhoura Walk

                                                                                                                                                                       On Sunday 10 February the club outing was to the Ballyhoura Mountains. The Ballyhouras run for approx six miles east to west on the border of Cork and Limerick. The sky was pregnant with rain to the west, but to the east they looked clear. Arriving at the trailhead on the road to Ardpatrick, we parked up and put on our walking gear. There are good facilities here with a shop and toilets etc.  Mountain bikes can be hired out here from  The largest network of mountain bike trails in Ireland are here. However the longest downhill run is nearer to home on Mount Hillary.
The morning was cold but dry so far. We set off at a lively gait, on a track heading south east,over looking the rich pastures of Ballyorgan. Across the valley the Victorian Castle Oliver could be seen.
With it’s 21 rooms and 12 bathrooms, it boasts the largest wine 🍷 cellar in Ireland, with approx 55,000 bottles...... It is open to the public from May to September....the House only,not the cellar.
It was here that Kim Kardashian (Whoever she is ) and Kanye West spent part of their honeymoon.
                                                                                                                                                               Crossing the public road we veered North West and up a steep track. Here we met some flurries of snow. Upwards we went and then came to the sleepers section, we were greeted with driving hail head on.  We rested in the lee of some rocks, before we began our final assault to the summit of Seefin at 528 meters.  Refresh we continued and reached the trig point of the highest point of the Ballyhouras. We had reasonably good views of the verdant plains of Cork and Limerick. A faint glimps of Mount Hillary could be seen in the distance. Seefin is thought to be an angalicised version of Sui Finn, Finns seat. He wouldn’t linger long here today because of the cutting breeze.
Photos taken we continued on to Castle Philip. From here it was all mostly downhill. There was a noticeable increase in temperature as we descended. Down then onto forest paths until we reached the car park.
                                                                                                                                                                      After changing, some had to leave for home, and more stopped for the tea / coffee and chat at the Gallery in Mallow. It was good to see such a large turnout, and great to see some new faces.....

                        “ I go to nature
                           to be soothed
                           and healed,
                           and to have
                            my senses
                          put in order “.................John Burroughs.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Club Bus Trip To Sneem

  On Sunday Oct. 28th the Club had a Bus trip to do part of The Kerry Way Stage from Sneem to Kenmare. Again we left town at 8am with a good travelling party of 14 to head off to West Kerry and our starting point of the Blackwater bridge. As usual with our club we use Kealy's Coaches  who always offer us a good service and a luxury bus for our trip.
  Our destination was the Blackwater Bridge between Kenmare & Sneem which was our starting point of our walk on the Kerry Way walking route which goes all around the famed Ring of Kerry. No matter how many times you come here you still marvel at the beauty of this part of the country. Our walk started along the shoreline of Kenmare Bay and looking across at the Beara Peninsula and other places we have been earlier in the year.

 After a while we came back onto the main Ring of Kerry Road until around Templenoe we veered onto country roads and a bit of climbing as well but this left us with complete views over the Kenmare bay below which is stunning at every angle that you look at it from. After a while as we gained altitude we got a view of the Magillycuddy Reeks to our left and these were showing the first signs of winter as they were snow capped and looking awesome. The skies at this stage were clear overhead and the snow on the mountain tops made for good viewing.

As we progressed along the country roads & forest paths with The Reeks on one side & Kenmare Bay on the other and heading for our one climb of the day to the Gortnamullen Peak this day was getting better by the step. After a while on this 18 Km. trip the first sight of Kenmare came into view, which has to be said is one lovely town with plenty of character. We headed to our destination which was Foleys Bar & Restaurant . Again we must thank them for their help as they left us drop our bags there in the morning.
 One part of the day & the Bus trip was everyone to sit down & have a meal after without having to drive home after. This creates a great bond within our members as everyone gets a chance to talk & have a bit of Craic with some good food.
  This trip probably signals the end of our ' Big'  days out for the season  as the clocks have changed to Winter time so for the next few months as our Club walks do not stop but our days out will be just closer to home .

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.