After enjoying wonderful weather for the few days I went to Ballyferriter, things returned to worse than normal after that. Dull, wet and dreary would sum it up nicely. To top things off, we have a full fledged storm arriving today so things don't look like improving anytime soon. Yesterday however, was the one good weather window that was available, so I grabbed the chance with both hands and set off west once again.
I wasn't after a big day, just one that would get me on the hills and give me a chance for a dip in the sea. Over the last few years I have become quite a fan of going for a soak in our seas. It is a bit strange for someone who is not a fan of cold water, but for a couple of months the water is bearable for me, and I have come to enjoy it. The weather was looking very nice. Not super warm, but pleasant, and it was still a shorts and T shirt day. I decided that a visit to the Slieve Mish mountains just west of Tralee would offer me a good mountain day, as well as being close to the beach. I drove up the little bohereen at Derrymore, where there is careful parking for several cars, and soon I was out on the open ground. The Derrymore river cuts through a deep valley that divides Baurtregaum from Caherconree. Both spurs on either side of the river are steep and neither offer an easy way to top. I normally do the round in a clockwise direction and climb the spur that leads to the NE top of Baurtregaum first. I thought about changing things today but I stuck to the norm. It meant that the climb held no surprises for me and the steep 300 metre slog up through heather was as expected...hard. Sweat flowed freely but height was steadily gained. Finally at the 400 metre contour there is an easement and you can catch your breath before another 150 metre pull is climbed. This is thankfully on easier ground as the heather is left behind.
Some cloud clung to the tops but I was mostly in the sun until I reached the 700 metre contour when I was enveloped in the mist. A few spatters of rain arrived and I briefly thought about putting on a jacket. As I was contemplating, the rain stopped and I just had a cool breeze and cloud to contend with. I reached the NE top and easily followed the ridge to the bleak main summit of Baurtregaum (851 metres). With nothing to see I just kept going towards Caherconree. I was lazy and decided to just wing it and walk without checking the map or compass. After a while I thought I was heading too far to the north so I decided to contour around the hillside to try and find the col below Caherconree. I walked for a while and saw no col, so I decided to stop my stupidity and check my position. My Suunto watch is very handy, and soon I had my position fixed on the map and I realized that I had contoured way too far to the south. Indeed I had actually been bang on course at the start. I set off in the correct direction and soon found the col. To my delight, the mists parted and I was offered some views again. As I rose easily to the summit of Caherconree (835 metres) I was once again in the mist but very shortly after I passed the summit the mists cleared and I enjoyed gorgeous views for the rest of the hike. It was a real boost for the spirit. I sat and enjoyed a bite to eat on the adjacent top of Gearhane (792 metres) where I enjoyed the views in every direction, but especially to the west. I decided on a whim to descend to the lake in the coum under the col between the Baurtregaum and Caherconree, and follow the river back to my car. It worked out beautifully and there was a reasonable trail to follow the whole way. It was especially handy near the end, as it allowed me to avoid the steep descent through heather at the end of the spur. I arrived back to the car four hours after setting off and wasted no time in driving the kilometre to Derrymore beach, where I enjoyed a long soak in the very pleasantly warm sea. It was simply lovely to stand in the lapping waters and admire the fine mountain scenery that framed the shore. I drove the 90 or so kilometres home a very happy boy.