Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Struggling through the bog on the Dingle Peninsula

Less than a week after coming home from the Alps I had a couple of days off work and with a decent weather forecast I decided to take the opportunity of visiting one of my favourite places The Dingle Peninsula.

Thursday Sept 24th;

If only I knew someone who worked in the railway, then I might not have missed the 13.20 train to Tralee and I would have been able to start my walk at 15.30. Instead I had to catch the 15.25 and this meant that I wasn't starting into the wilds until 17.15 after I got a taxi to just beyond Blennerville. I joined the Dingle Way where it left the main Dingle road and walked along the laneway until after almost a mile I was finally able to enter the open boggy slopes of the eastern Slieve Mish mountains. Initially a nice well built path made for easy progress on the gentle hill but soon this turned off and I found myself having to hike through wet boggy trackless ground that made you earn every step, especially with the heavy bag. I had brought my Voyager tent and food for a few days but I was feeling strong and lets face it I wouldn't be able to continue for too long this evening as after 7pm the light would be starting to fade. I continued up the left side of the glen and eventually Barnageehey at 482 mtrs. I had collected a couple of liters of water shortly below the top and I set my mind to searching for a place to pitch my tent. It wasn't easy to find anything resembling dry ground but eventually I settled for a spot half a kilometer or so further west at around the 500 mtr contour. I had my tent up and was getting dinner ready at 19.15 and I was enjoying myself immensely. Despite only waving been on the go for 1 hour 45mins I was well removed from civilization and I was enclosed by wild bleak mountainside. To the north lay Tralee and the views were extensive across the north Kerry plains. I enjoyed a long and peaceful night where the only sound I heard was the gentle breeze rustling the nearby heather.
Nice easy start

Looking back towards Tralee
Friday Sept 25th;

I was up at first light and packed up and ready to go at 8am. It was a lovely morning and the day promised to be a good one. Now that I was on the broad ridge I hoped that the worst of the boggy ground was below me and so it proved to be as I set off on my serpentine way around to Knockauncorrig and then on to Glanbrack. The going was easy and the views lovely in all directions. I didn't have any water left so I hoped to come across a decent source en-route. I was pleased to find a very nice spring not far below the stony summit of Bartregaum 851 mtrs (one for future reference I think).
Beautiful sunrise

Morning light looking south

Towards Baurtregaum

Towards Fenit-north.
The views kept getting better and better the higher I got and I really enjoyed the passage over Baurtregaum and Caherconree. An easy descent followed down past Caherconree fort to the col and then in a westerly direction across increasingly wet ground to reach a little road that cuts across the mountains. I turned then and walkwe a few hundred meters up the road until I could gain the riugh heathery ground that rose to Knockbrack. I walked on beyond the coum and then dropped towards a patch of forestry to the north which where I had to cross some horrible wet rutted ground before finally reaching another lane that led to the main Tralee Dingle road. Thankfully once you reach the road it is just a matter of walking 50 meters until you can once again enter wild ground. Unfortunately you are now down at only 100 mtrs but there follows a gentle pull on decent ground to the next top of Knockbeg 378 mtrs. I had now covered about 20 kilometers and I was feeling the effects of crossing so much energy sapping ground but I hoped to reach the the slopes under Beenoskee 9 kilometers further ahead that evening so I pressed on.  The next 5 kilometers were a nightmare. As well as being boggy the way was constantly crossed by peat hags and ditches. Every few meters I had to drop turn hop or climb out of pools and drains and it was exhausting. Almost insidiously I found myself spent and I resolved to find a place to camp as soon as possible. I found a spot a kilometer further on at a col south of the wonderfully named Doon and once I had my tent up and mat unrolled etc I just climbed in and lay down for almost an hour. I had been on the move for 7.5 hours across unremittingly energy sapping ground and needed the rest. The remainder of the evening was spent relaxing and enjoying my surroundings and a long quiet night followed where my only company was a grumbling grouse.

Towards Caherconree

Towards Derrymore glen..last here with Frank

Heading towards the fort


Down by the little lane with Knockbrack ahead

From Knockbrack back towards Caherconree

Looking over Castlemaine Harbour

Down to the forestry and across the valley



Saturday Sept 26th;

It was disappointingly cloudy this morning but at least it was dry. After decamping I was faced with a 250 mtr pull to the next top. Thankfully I was soon out of the rutted ground and once I reached the long flat top it was a delight to make easier progress. I had intended to go beyond the Conner Pass and descend to the town of Dingle but since I had stopped earlier the previous evening I decided to head for Lispole instead where I could catch the 13.35 bus back to Tralee and thus home. This would still mean that I had almost 20 kilometers to cover so I had no time to waste. All too soon the good ground was left behind and I had to traverse a further 5 kilometers of very wet ground around the coum that lay behind the beautifully situated Anscaul Lake.


A good view of the rough ground of the previous day

Looking ahead towards Mount Brandon


Anscaul Lake
I had decided to forego climbing Beenoskee and head instead for the broad ridge that stretches from Cnoc Mhaoilionain as far as Croachskeathda, most of which I had never set foot on before. The steep 350 mtrs up to the first summit was tough but thereafter I had easy going all the way to the col above Loch Bhearna na Gaoithe and then another long gentle pull to An Cnapan Mor 649 mtrs my highest point of the day. I was a little alarmed to find that so much time had been eaten up on the ridge and I had to hot foot it to the final top and I ran the first couple of kilometers of the descent (not too easy with a big bag) but thankfully the ground was great and I reached the lane to the village in good time. I was tempted earlier to ring work and look for the following day off so that I could have completed the full traverse of the peninsula all the way to Brandon Head but I was still really pleased with my outing. I had often wondered what the low central section of the peninsula would be like to cross and I now had my answer. I'm not sure I would be in a rush back to the ground but the views are divine. I still think I will do the full traverse one day. As it was I had completed about 50 kilometers in the two and a bit days so it was a worthy outing in my book anyway.

Finally out of the bog




An Cnapan Mor

Dingle


Lovely easy descent

The old railway viaduct at Lispole