Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mangerton with James...Winter Lingers..Just

Time flies and it is two months since James and myself had our couple of days away in Dingle so it was past time to get him out again. We decided to have a day out and Mangerton was the mountain of choice today. We have been having a lovely stretch of weather for the past while and cold dry clear days with the thermometer reaching around six or seven degrees have been followed by frosty nights so I was keen to see if anything like proper winter conditions might be forming high up. We reached the start of the route and set off up in good spirits as only sporadic clouds were about and wonderful views were also promised. It was surprising to see how little snow remained since last Sunday and it was only to be found well above the 700mtr contour. An occasionally stiff breeze was decidedly bracing but we were nice and warm as we climbed up the slope.

Even up at the punchbowl most of the snow gone

Always spectacular..The Horses Glen
 Once we reached the level section that traverses around the mountain we were afforded wonderful views across the wild rugged ground that eventually reached the Black Valley and the majestic Reeks soared skyward above a temperature inversion. When we reached the Devils Punchbowl we turned left and went as far as the ridge that rises to the summit plateau of Mangerton. I had been fairly sure that this north facing bowl would have some reasonable snow but even here things had been mostly stripped back. We enjoyed a bite to eat just below the plateau and then climbed the steepish final bit. The plateau did have a more wintry look and feel and we decided to walk across the mostly frozen bog to the true summit several hundred yards away. It had been a long time since I bothered to go there but it was beautiful today and I really enjoyed the expansive views that included the entirety of both the Beara and Everagh peninsulas, The Reeks and all the way to Brandon near Dingle. We returned to the plateau rim and descended the long track back to our car. Just three hours thirty minutes had passed and the banter and chat never stopped.

 All and all a lovely day.

Towards Killarney

Monday, November 21, 2016

Coomloughra Horseshoe. Winter arrives on The Reeks

I set off in the predawn back to Kerry again for what would hopefully be a snowy winter walk on one of the best rounds in the country the Coomloughra Horseshoe.

Quite the sight.
A nice dusting of snow down to about 600mtrs and clear skies promised an early taste of winter so I was really looking forward to getting out in it. Driving towards the start of the route was special also as the views across towards the Sleive Mish mountains glowing pink in the first rays of morning sun was really lovely but I didn't have time to be stopping and taking a photo as I was on a mission.
 Leaving straight from work meant I was nice and early in the almost deserted carpark and it was 08.20 as I set off up the rather unappealing hydro road. This stretch is never a pleasure but the expanding and glorious views were a delight in the crisp morning air. Soon enough I arrived at the huge and spectacular coum that is encompassed by the three highest mountains in the country and what a lovely sight it was this morning with snow covered the steep slopes. Now all I had to do was choose which way I would do the round. I chose to climb Caher first as I prefer to cross the Beenkeragh ridge from Carrauntoohil as this gives nicer scrambling.

Looking across to the mountains of the Dingle peninsula

Towards Coumasaharn

Looking East

The East Reeks. Wonderful clarity with the Galtees and Knockmealdowns very clearly seen

The long slope up to the east top of Caher is fairly gentle but get a little steeper towards the top but this is more than compensated for by the delicious views across the void towards Skregmore and Beenkeragh. Finally I reached the top and on a day such as this the feeling of delight is hard to beat as I stopped and looked around at the beauty that lay in all directions. The ridge that links Caher to Carrauntoohil is pleasantly narrow in places and I enjoyed the airy feel as I stuck to the crest all the way. There was just two others on the summit when I got there and it was a real pleasure to sit and enjoy an early lunch in the sunny almost windless day. I looked down towards the Beenkeragh ridge and found I was really looking forward to the challenge it would offer. I didn't think that crampons or axe would be necessary as the snow was soft powder and there wasn't any ice to be found (I did have them in the bag though, better safe than sorry) and so that proved to be the case. The steep descent to the top of O'Sheas gully was easy in the soft snow and once I reached the ridge I stuck to the crest once again. It is always more challenging when the rocks (and holds) are covered with snow but with a little patience I found everything I needed for safe progress. Once past the initial difficulties (which is the best bit) I stuck to the path and reached the summit of Beenkeragh. A short rest here and I went carefully down the snow covered boulders towards Skregmore and eventually reached the hydro road again. So around 13 kilometers and 1200mtrs of climbing done and I was back to the car in just over five hours. In the car my face was burning from the heater but also I suspect glowing with satisfaction after a smashing winters day. Here's hoping that there will be many more throughout the season. 

The playground of a couple of weeks ago..Mullaghanattin

Back to Skregmore

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mullaghanattin Horseshoe..The Pocket

First rays light up Mullaghanattin.
Looking out the window of the apartment this morning it is difficult to motivate myself to get  up and go for a walk as it is dull, gloomy and pouring with rain. Yesterday couldn't have been more different as a crystal clear night led to a crisp frosty morning and the promise of a superb morning for a hike around one of the nicest horseshoe walks in Kerry...Mullaghanattin via "The Pocket".

Looking across to the pocket

Lough Brin
I got up at silly o clock so that I could make an early start and be back in Sneem in good time so that Margaret and myself could make the most of what promised to be a stellar weather day in this most lovely of places. Out the door and a wait for the ice to melt off the windscreen and I was driving in the gloaming towards the Ballaghbeama Gap before turning off and following the little lane to Tooreenahone and parking at the last junction from where I could easily start the walk. This is one of the most perfect horseshoe walks that you would find anywhere and the route really resembles a horseshoe on the map. I decided to do it in an anti clockwise direction so almost immediately after leaving the car I crossed over the wire fence and started climbing up the boggy shoulder of An Cnoc Raibhach 534mtrs which got the blood pumping and warded against the chill breeze. Reaching the shoulder of the mountain afforded me expansive views to the east and I was able to enjoy a lovely sunrise and watching the hills turn to a rusty rosy colour when the first rays of sun hit them made me think that I was lucky indeed to have such a beautiful wild landscape to enjoy in my own country. It had been just over a week since I returned from the Vaud Alps and I have to say that I didn't feel that these hills were inferior or less beautiful in any way to what I had enjoyed there.
Wild and wonderful ground. Looking towards The Reeks

For the next kilometer and a half the ground undulates along the broad crest before climbing up to Mullaghanattin east top. This is a great spot to pause and look around as now the landscape is wild and wonderful and the Reeks dominate the views to the right. A drop down to the col and then a steep climb all the way to the top of Mullaghanattin (773mtrs) follows and here on this pleasingly small top the views in all directions are wonderful. Looking across at "The Pocket" is especially pleasing but some care is needed on the steep near 200mtr descent and then another steep pull leads to the east top of Beann 682mtrs and easier walking reaches the crested summit of Beann 752mtrs. The views to the west, where the Iveragh Peninsula continues all the way to Hogs Head where it finally drops to the ocean are great and add to this the Beara Peninsula on one side and the Dingle Peninsula on the other and it is without doubt a special place to be. I continued on towards the next top (south top) and then descended via the broad and wild Faher mountain. I was feeling so good that I actually ran a fair bit of it and my knee held up just fine (at least until I stepped in a bog hole and went tumblingšŸ˜Š). Eventually I reached the green road in the base of the valley and I made my way back to the car. It had taken me just three hours forty five minutes to cover the 11 or so kilometers with around 1000mtrs of ascent. I was well happy.

West....the peninsula continues

Back at the car and a blue sky day