Sunday, 19 January 2020

The Claragh Loop

On Saturday Jan. 18th a few club members went for a walk around the Claragh Loop in Millstreet. You often hear about great walks all over the country & further afield but this is one great walk right on our doorstep in North Cork.
To get to it you turn down the Clargh Rd. in Millstreet at the Church & continue for about a mile and park the car and follow the route to the top of Claragh Mountain where you will get on a clear day a fantastic view overlooking Millstreet.
But what most people do not know is that you continue on further by heading on westwards. You will be looking at Caherbarnagh in front of you with The Paps and all the Kerry Mountains further back with a great of all of North West Cork as well.

As a walk it has every thing especially for this time of the year, a good testing climb to the summit of Claragh, a good hike as you go west & along the base of Claragh & just when you just think its over you have a short testing climb back up through the forestry just when you think you are finished which brings you back onto the main pathway again.
It is not that high or not that long but still a good test especially for this time of the year after the Christmas over eating & over indulging period and you want to get those legs moving again & shake a few pounds off.
This walk for us in North Cork is nearby, a short enough walk that does not take hours and lets you do other things with your day.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Gougane Barra

On Sunday 8th September the club walk was in Gougane Barra. We left town at 08.30 on a dry autumnal day. Reaching our destination we parked up and had tea / coffee at the restaurant overlooking the tranquil waters of the lake.

We made our way by the lake, before turning north along a narrow road to reach a gate that gave access to the mountain. Conditions underfoot were not great, it was wet and boggy as we started our ascent. There is no defined path here and our aim was to make the crest of the ridge. As we progressed, the ground didn’t get any better in fact it got worse. Coarse grass , covering knee jarring holes and slippery rock. Then there was some rain and in the mist visibility was not great. On a clear day the views would have been worth the hard slog, but not today.

After some time we rested up and had some refreshments.
Continuing through the inhospitable ground conditions , we trudged along. Eventually our progress was brought to an abrupt halt , as we came to a well constructed fence topped by barbed wire. On some of the fence posts were way markers, however they petered out.  Now we had to take stock, do we go back , try to descend to the lake or scale the fence..the third option won out.
The going underfoot didn’t improve.....

Spare a thought then for the men of the West Cork flying column who in June 1921 were in the Borlin Valley. Led by Tom Barry they got word that the British forces were converging on them from Bandon Castletownbere Macroom and Bantry. The intention was to surrounded them.
Barry led his men across these same  Shehy mountains and down a cliff into the Coomroe Valley where they found hospitality at Cronin’s hotel in a Gougane Barra. This was done under the cover of darkness......  With all our modern navigation accouterments we found it difficult enough to negotiate by day.

We pushed onwards. Two French guests left the group to scout a way down...after a while they called out that they had found a path. After what seemed an age we finally reached a track, then a tarred path that took us over a small stream called the Lee..then we like Barry and his men were grateful to reach the sanctuary of Cronin’s hotel where we enjoyed their hospitality.
It was good to see new faces and to add an international dimension to the group.
It was an enjoyable day out, but a walk that I would be in no hurry to do again.

     “ Hiking is the answer, who cares what the question is “...........Unknown

Monday, 26 August 2019


On Sunday August 25 the club walk was on Knocknatobar mountain. Situated north east of Caherciveen. The mountain stands against the prevailing south west winds that carry rain in from the Atlantic. Fresh water springs out of the ground in many places, giving the mountain it’s name Knocknatobar ( Hill of the Wells ). Rising to 690 meters its the 32 nd highest in Ireland. At the foot of the mountain is a holy well called Saint Furseys which is reputed to have a cure for eye complaints.
Leaving town at 08.30 we made our way westwards. The day was dry. We stopped in Glenbeigh at the Towers hotel for some tea / coffee and also managed to get a scone eventually. Arriving at our destination we put on our gear, our route was the pilgrimage path to the summit. This has been a place of pilgrimage for millennia, from pre Christian Era to present time. In 1884 / 1885 the fourteen stations of the Cross were erected along the path that zig zags to the summit. A large cross and altar were erected on top at the behest of Canon Brosnan of Cahersiveen in 1884.
The path traverses the western flank of the mountain. As we gained altitude the views opened up. Caherciveen to the south west with Valentia island and the Skelligs.The Blasket islands and Dingle peninsula to the north with the sparkling waters of Dingle bay in between. Conditions under foot were good, but wet in places as could be expected, after all it is the Hill of the Wells. It’s a steady but not too demanding climb to the top.
Towards the summit we  got some mist and donned our rain gear.  Visibility was poor as we climbed the final steep slope to the top. Here we rested up and had refreshments sheltering at the side of the substantial altar...
 Refreshed we decided to continue eastwards along the our left were gaping cliffs tumbling down to the valley floor. We went on a few hundred meters in poor visibility..then like a curtain being pulled aside the mist lifted and we were treated to fantastic views..the Glendalough lakes hundreds of feet below... and the Iveragh Peninsula all around. It was ample reward for the effort.... We then retraced our steps and eventually reached the car park...well done to everyone. Also it was good to see some new faces..some made a stop at the Towers for refreshments on the way home..
It was an excellent day out and a route that will be repeated, next time hopefully continuing on to a Kells....

  “ To find a mountain path all by oneself gives a greater feeling of strength
          than to take a path that is shown “.  ...............Karen Horney

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Carrauntoohill -Going Up " The Big One "

On Sunday July 28th the Club Outing was to Carrauntoohill. As usual we left Kanturk at 8.30am to meet up at the staring point at Cronin's Yard . For a minimal charge this place is very handy in that you can a have a cuppa before you start if you want, a place to change your gear or have a shower after, your car and belongings are safe and you have a fine newly refurbished cafe to come back to afterwards.

Our chose route was by the Brother O'Sheas Gully route which was very suitable to the group of 17 that we had with a good cross section of our members in that it gave everyone a good chance to do the climb. There is no easy way to climb Carrauntoohill. This route named after a local Brother O'Shea is the second most popular route to the top.

The weather at this point was overcast, cloudy and misty with an odd drizzle thrown in.

After leaving Cronin's Yard we made our way out along before we turned right for our route passing near the rescue hut & the junction for another route " The Heavenly Gates ". We took abreak for a while at Irelands Highest lake Cummeenoughter. This is a good stopping point as it comes just before the last climb up to the top of O'Sheas Gully.

On reaching this point you are left with one last climb to the peak. On reaching the top the rain came down on us which was disappointing as the forecast had been good but up here those rules do not apply. That is why you appreciate the good sunny days here to see all the views. But on this occasion it was not to be.

We took a quick group photo with a hurried snack before we set off again, no hanging around today. Our chose way down was to go by the Zig Zag route as the other routes may be quicker but taking in the rain and its flow off would make the Devils Ladder & Heavenly Gates descent routes very messy & slippy and anyway even though it is longer the Zig Zag Route is by far an easier route down.
As we came down along & as we came below the cloud the views opened up again and as you look around you see the vast rugged landscape & its beauty,
As we came to the bottom all that was left to do was the 45 min. walk in & back to Cronin's Yard glad with the fact everyone was back safe.
There is 2 things here in that you always respect this mountain & keep a good concentration and with that it gives everyone a chance to complete it which is always an achievement no matter how many times you do it.
Off to Cronin's yard we go for a change of clothes before some refreshments.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Muckcross To Lord Brandons Cottage

  On Sunday 14 July ( Bastille day) Vive la France, the club outing was to Killarney. In Mediterranean type weather we left a town at 08.30. We travelled to Mucross house where we parked up. We headed  for Torc waterfall and continued up the steps, to join the Old Kenmare road. As we were a large group we formed into two smaller groups. The first group then went ahead with the second group to follow after an interval of 10 minutes.  The second group had some navigational issues to find the Kenmare road and after a vigorous work out we eventually got on track.
The sun shone from a cloudless azure sky as we made our way along the valley between Torc and Mangerton, with the Owengarriffe river to our left. Then on to Esknamucky glen between Cromuglan  and  Stumpacommeen mountains. Reaching the junction for Galways bridge we followed the path to Derrycunnihy church by the N71. We rested here and crossed the busy road onto the path for Lord Brandon’s cottage. The path which was formerly a Mass path is down through old oak woods.

It is approximately three kilometers from the Derrycunnihy to the cottage. As you descend there are some great views of the Upper Lake. Finally the path levels off to reach Lord Brandon’s cottage. There isn’t much left of the old cottage and the crumbling tower. But a modern cafe is situated here serving very welcome refreshments... The cottage which belonged to Lord Brandon was probably used as a hunting and fishing lodge , which were the pursuits of the gentry. The tower can still be seen behind the cafe. It has an interesting history. Apparently it was built by Lord Brandon to keep his wife under house arrest... In 1829 he discovered some love letters from Lord Melbourne to his wife. He was a very possessive man and had his wife confined to the house. She complained that she couldn’t get enough air so he commissioned the tower to incarcerate her... The whole scandal hit the courts and became public. Lord Brandon unsuccessful sued Lord Melbourne for  “criminal conversations  “  with his wife. Lord Brandon fled to France to avoid the publicity and died there in 1832. The whole affair didn’t do any harm to Melbourne who went on to become Prime Minister of Britain in 1834. He was a friend and adviser to Queen Victoria. Melbourne went on to have several affairs and was sued unsuccessfully by another irate husband...After refreshments we headed to the lake where three boats were waiting to take us on a magical trip through the Upper lake onto Mucross
lake and finally to  Lough Lein where we disembarked and continued by foot to the car park at Mucross House. The boatman was very informative and pointed out landmarks along the way. Eagles nest, Elephant Rock , old famine houses etc.  The scenery was spectacular with the mountains rising skywards all around.
Reaching the car park headed homewards. There would  be no post walk tea / coffee today. The club BBQ was timed for 18.00 at the Alley Bar...
As we gathered in the Alley the BBQ was in full swing, with a mouthwatering array of food ready.
Burgers, sausages, chicken and kebabs. Salads,  rice and pasta. As if that wasn’t enough there was pavlova, apple tart , trifle and an assortment of other goodies for deserts.....
It was truly a memorable day. The walk the boat trip and the BBQ were top class and enjoyed by everyone....
Thanks to all who helped in anyway. Those who brought food, those who prepared the salads etc. those who organized boats and walk.
Cronin’s butchers who gave an excellent deal on the BBQ food. The Alley Bar and staff. And anyone who helped in anyway.....a special thanks again this year to master chef supreme Cha.

 “ After a days walk
      everything has twice it’s usual value “.  .............. G M Trevelyan

Monday, 1 July 2019

Coumshingaun 2019

On Sunday 30 June 2019 the club walk was the Coumshingaun lake loop walk in East Waterford. Leaving town at 08.30 we drove the picturesque Blackwater valley,through the towns of Mallow, Fermoy into County Waterford. On then to the heritage town of Lismore with it’s castle , Irish home to the Duke of Devonshire . The Comeraghs are between the towns of Clonmel and Carrick on Suir in Tipperary and the villages of Kilmackthomas and Kilrossanty in Waterford.
Finally reaching Leamybrien we stopped for tea / coffee at the busy Applegreen service station. Refreshed we continued on to Kilclooney Wood. Parking up we changed into our hiking gear. The car park was full. The fine weather had brought the people out , and like ourselves they had answered the call of the hills.
We made our way through some forestry and reaching a forest road we turned right past a fake tree disguising a telecommunications mast. Then over a style turning west we headed for a rock formation that to some looked like a rabbit , and to more it looks like a frog. This is quite a steep  ascent but behind us the lush countryside of Waterford reveals itself in all it’s glory. The large sweep of Dungarven Bay is off to the south.  Arriving at the rock we rest, before attempting the push up to the southern side of Coumshingaun. Gaining altitude with the Lough on our right we reached the formidable rocky outcrops that stand sentinel above the gullys that plunge down to the lake a few hundred meters below. After some scrambling the ground levels off into a pleasant ridge walk. Then there is a fairly steep ascent up a narrow path and care must be taken.

Finally we reach a  plateau on Fauscoum mountain. Fauscoum is the highest peak on the Comeragh Mountains at 792 meters. We didn’t go to the summit which was approximately 500 meters further west. We turned north to walk the back wall of the lake. The weather was good and the rain that threatened never materialized. Though the day was good there was a haze in the distance that limited our view. However we could see the toll bridge in Waterford city. As well as into counties Kilkenny and Wexford. There were ample opportunities for photos. The Comeragh Mountains were home to a gang of outlaws led by William Crotty in the early 1700s.  He was the local Robin Hood who rode down from his hideout in this remote spot to rob the wealthy. He distributed some of his loot to the poor but kept a good portion for expenses. He led the Redcoats on a merry dance for years, it was said he shod his horse with the shoes turned backwards to confuse the army.The British finally captured him when he was betrayed by his close companion, David not that David... Anyway he was captured  on 16 Feb. 1742. Tried on the 17 March, hanged and quartered and his head cut off and planted on a spear outside the county jail. His wife on hearing this threw herself from the cliffs and died. He is reported to have a great hoard of treasure hidden in the Comeraghs. His ghost can sometimes be seen riding a Snow White horse guarding his treasure. We didn’t meet him today but I’d imagine if we were up there for the winter solstice we might.

When we reached the rocky outcrop of Stookangarriffe ,we stopped for some welcome refreshments. We rested and admired the beautiful lush countryside spread out below us...
We then made our way down a fairly steep slope and finally crossed the stream that exits the lake. We  continued east and finally the rabbit rock came into view. We were on the home straight and soon reached the forest track and car park....we changed and it was decided to call to Foley's Lismore for refreshments... we had eaten here before and again we were not disappointed... Everyone seemed to really enjoy the day....

       “ Look deep into nature
       and you will understand
       everything better “....................Albert Einstein

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Summer solstice 2019

On Saturday 22 June the Summer Solstice club walk was up the West Pap. As the last of the night owls staggered homewards , we left town at 02.00 heading west to Clonkeen. The Paps are associated  with the goddess Danu she was known of throughout Europe as well as Ireland.The Paps have been the site of Pagan rituals for thousands of years. Speeding through the sleeping countryside we arrived at our destination, the southern  slopes of the Paps. Parking up we donned our gear complete with head torches. First we walked up a forestry road before crossing a gate onto open mountain. There is a fairly sharp incline for a while. Eventually we pass a gate and contoured in a South westerly direction. We then turned north and followed a reasonably defined track. By now visibility was greatly reduced as we were walking in fog. However we made steady progress , gaining altitude with every step. Unlike last year ,we couldn’t see the lights of any village or town. Our vision confined to the limits of our head torches. Making good time we decided to take shelter in the lee of some rocks as we didn’t want to summit too soon. Morning twilight was fighting a battle against the fog. Slowly it was getting the upper hand. When it was time for the final assault on the summit we were able to proceed without the aid of torches. Ground conditions were good. A stiff southerly breeze began to pick up. By the time we reached the summit of West Pap at 690 meters it was quite blustery. We were glad find shelter on the northern side of the large cairn. The breeze however did not shift the fog. Looking 48 degrees North East where the sun was expected to appear at anytime between 05.08 and 05.15 depending on which website you checked, it didn’t bode well for us. We had some refreshments and waited in anticipation. At approximately 05.07 the suns golden rays painted the sky a dazzling variety of orange and pinks and yellows............ But between this kaleidoscope of color,  and us was a bank of thick cloud obscuring our view.
We headed back down into the breeze , as we descended it began to wane. We retraced our steps and eventually reached the car park. As we were changing, the midgets were.about to get active.
It was decided to call to O Riordans Kanturk for some wholesome food...While we may not have seen the sunrise this year, never the less it was an excellent hike. You felt a connection with the people and the rituals which been part of this sacred mountain for millennia..

      “ We live in a fast paced
       society , walking slows
          us down “.................................... Robert Sweetgall