Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Lough Duff Horseshoe, A Kerry Gem.

A day off from work and a decent forecast made the decision to head to the mountains an easy one. I opted to do the Lough Duff Horseshoe as it had been a long time since I did it and it never fails to deliver a good time. So up at dawn and out early saw me leave the car at 09.50 after the long drive through the Gap of Dunloe and right to the end of the Black Valley. I parked just beyond the bridge under the steep east side of Broaghnabinnia and set off up from there. This isn't exactly an easy start and the 400 meters gained in little over half a kilometer is a real lung buster. Things weren't helped by the fact that I was still suffering the effects of the chest infection and its fair to say that I was pooped by the time I reached the shoulder that gives access to the less steep 250 meters to the broad flat summit at 745 meters. The weather was a little misty and the higher tops of the Reeks were enveloped in cloud but it is a wonderful wild spectacular place to be and I was enjoying myself despite feeling a bit crook. From the summit the views to the west are truly spectacular and it is worth the trip just for the moment when it is revealed. I gazed for a little while before dropping, initially easily and at the bottom steeply and more tricky, down to the remote and rugged gap under the ridge that rises up and around Lough Duff.
The steep east side of Broaghnabinnia

Easier ground to the summit

Looking back along the Black Valley

Looking west from the summit towards Mullaghanattin
This ridge rises fairly easily to point 665mtrs before turning south and climbing to the top above Lough Duff at 784 meters. Before I reached that point I had to stop for lunch and a rest as I had seldom felt so tired. Despite my weariness it was hard to feel anything but joy at being in such a place with such wonderful views. Now though more misty cloud was rolling in and when I re started I was quickly enveloped in mist. This I didn't mind as things become atmospheric and navigation is easy. The summit came and went and before too long I was once again under the mist and descending the saturated boggy ground heading east over 568mtrs towards Knocknabreeda 569 meters. After a kilometer on the long boggy top I descended steeply but easily in a northwesterly direction to the top of the beautiful waterfall behind Lough Reagh. After crossing the Gearhameen River I descended the last 100 meters on the north side of the river and returned easily to the car. It isn't a very long circuit (maybe 13 kilometers) and the the total ascent is about 1200 meters but the ground is wild and almost entirely pathless. It is without a doubt one of the best walks in Kerry and at the end despite being tired I was buzzing from the whole experience.
Looking across Lough Duff

Nice easy ridge

Back under the mist

Almost down looking towards Purple mountain

Lovely waterfall

Ogham Stone

Lough Reagh

Journeys end