Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Galtee Mountains Ridge

The Knockmealdowns looking lovely

Lough Muskry
James Moore and myself decided to do the Galtee Mountains Ridge today. As I was working nights I decided to start out straight after my shift. As James is in training for Gael Force he felt he needed a big mountain day to boost his hill fitness. He suggested that we do the full Galtee ridge and I readily agreed. We went for the minimalist approach and decided to do it as a hill running exercise. We needed a car at each end so I left my car at point 336mtrs Grid ref 889 197. James drove towards Cahir and our biggest problem was trying to find a track through the forestry that would lead us out onto the open mountain. We drove out the Tipperary road and initially we couldn't find the track marked on the map. We asked a guy in a haulage yard and he pointed us to an overgrown trail that led up into the woods. We left the car at 08.15 and started up the trail. The gradient was quite easy and we jogged along at a steady pace. Our biggest problem was one of route finding and several false trails lengthened considerably the time it took to gain access to open ground. Even then we had to force our way newly planted forestry for about 500mtrs which was very rough. All this meant that over an hour had passed before we reached our first top at point 449mtrs. We had at last gained the start of the ridge and it was obvious that there was a very long way to go.

Towards Galtymore
The day was lovely with clear skies and the promise of a dry sunny day for company. We set off for Slieveanard across rough heathery ground but we soon had a good track to follow which lasted until just under point 541 nearly 4kilometers further on. We made good progress and followed the broad twisting ridge to Feabreaga and up to Greenane. Up until now each top was higher than the last which meant that there was a fair amount of climbing involved in order to make headway. Now we were down hill for a kilometer to the tor that is called O'Loughlans castle and after a short rise another near two kilometer downhill stretch follows to the col under Galtybeg. A stiff 160mtr climb and the summit was ours and we continued down to col above Lough Diheen and another 200mtr pull to the summit of Galtymore mountain. James was starting to realise just how ambitious his suggested route was and his legs were starting to give him some problems. Still he soldiered on and we were soon down at the wall that runs along the western section of the ridge all the way to Lyracappul. This we followed and despite some cramping up by James we made reasonable time to this summit. Here a much needed rest was enjoyed along with some energy bars.

Para glider
We were surprised to see a para glider over by Temple Hill. I have never seen one in our mountains and they are a sight I associate more with Chamonix and the Alps. Still he was enjoying good conditions and was effortlessly gaining height on good thermals. He soon drifted in our direction and we got a really close look at him. He drifted swiftly along the ridge in the direction of Galtymore. We loosened out seizing muscles and commenced our jog down to the col under Temple Hill. There was no way we could rush the 185mtr climb to its summit but we trudged gamely and we were soon enough enjoying the panoramic views this top has to offer. It offers great views over towards Galtymore and has a remote feel to it as it is quite separate from the rest of the ridge. We didn't tarry long and we ran down the broad spur that leads gently down towards Pigeon Rock Glen from where we could access the track up to the car. In keeping with the start of the day we again encountered difficulty finding the track which meant we went a kilometer in the wrong direction and had to retrace our steps before we found the right trail. At this juncture in the day this was something we really could have done without and we were very glad to arrive back to the car. A grand total of 34 kilometers and a total ascent of 1700meters in just over six hours meant that these old bones were in dire need of a good rest. A most enjoyable day.
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