Saturday, October 27, 2012

A big round on the Reeks

I was originally supposed to be working today but a change of plan meant I was free to take advantage of the glorious weather and head to the MacGillycuddy Reeks in Kerry. 
It has been a while since I was here and I was determined to take advantage of this opportunity. So I set off on a superbly clear frosty morning in great spirits to the best mountains in Ireland. I enjoyed a leisurely start to the day so it was nearly 11am when I left the car. There was a distinct chill in the air so I had a light hat and gloves on from the start. My legs felt fairly heavy so I set a steady pace and just plodded on. The slog to the lake under Cruach Mor doesn't have a lot to recommend it but I made steady progress and eventually reached it. Here things get a little more interesting and some scrambling is possible as you head towards the summit. There was some hoare frost on the rocks so care was needed. There was a wonderful clarity to the air and when I arrived at the summit I rested a while and enjoyed the expansive views in all directions. The Galtees were crystal clear in the distance and other ranges further afield could also be seen.

The view East

The Big Gun

I soon set off for Cnock na Peiste. On the was you pass over An Garbh and drop steeply to a col above Lough Googh. It was a joy to be out on a day such as this and everywhere you looked there were views to savour. My knees were aching a bit but not enough to to cause me to think about shortening the route. The ridge of the eastern Reeks is at over 3000ft for most of the way until you drop down from Cnoc na Cuillan and climb Cnoc na Toinne. After this you drop again to the top of the Devils Ladder. The following 1000ft of a slog to the summit of Carrauntoohil is a pain and its here that the relative solitude of the Eastern Reeks is left behind. There is nothing for it but to put the head down and keep on going and it eventually passes. The reward is well worth the effort and to stand on the highest point in Ireland on a day such as this is a real treat.  However I still had a fair ways to go so I didn't linger too long and set off for Benkeeragh.

The 300mtr slog to the summit of Carrauntoohil

Always inspiring Caher

Carrauntoohil from Benkeeragh

Towards Mount Brandon

Incredible sunsets
Down steeply and across the wonderful ridge that links the two highest peaks in the country. Particularly at the start, marvelous scrambling presents itself. Next comes the final pull to the top of Benkeeragh and the views kept on coming. I headed down over Knockbrinna and back to the car. I was tired but very happy with my day. Off back to Killarney for a coffee and then home. Half way home I noticed in my rear view mirror the makings of a magnificent sunset. I pulled over to enjoy the view and take a few pictures. A wonderful end to the day. I must make the effort to get to the mountains more often this coming winter.

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