Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another Run On The Kerry Way.

March 23rd;

Yesterday myself and Kevin took the opportunity to have a run in the wilds of Kerry. It had been a while since our last outing and I was really looking forward to it. We had hoped to have a run along a section of the Kerry Way, starting in Couneemduff in the shadow of the mighty "Reeks" and running over the gap between Broughnabinnea and Carrauntoohil into the Bridia Valley and incorporate a climb of Caher on the way before returning to the start via the "Lack Road". Alas the weather was rubbish and while the rain wouldn't have been a problem the gale force winds that were forecast would have made traversing the high ridges on Caher too dangerous, so we were forced to rethink our route. Fortunately a ready alternative was available so we were able to start at the same place and opt out of Caher and run via the "Lack Road" and Lough Acoose into Glencar and from there to the Bridia Valley and back to the car. All told this involved a distance of 30 kilometers and still involved over 900 meters of climbing despite leaving out Caher.
If you say you can run up a hill that steep I believe you

The Bridia Valley

The start of the Lack Road

You want the zip lower yes??

What a dynamo, not.
We met in Killarney at 10.20 and after picking up some supplies ( sweeties) we set off for the start of the route. This is still quite a journey an bad roads so it was bang on 11.30 when we left the car. There was no incentive needed to get started as the wind and damp ensured that we were anxious to get moving to stay warm. Despite the cloud covering the mountain tops and the inclement weather this is still a wonderful place to be so we were in great form as we set off. The route starts along a rough road and then goes around the back of the isolated farmhouse that rests in the end of the valley before it crosses the rough, stoney, wet ground and winds its way gently to the gap. Care was needed here as it would be really easy to have a fall on the slippery rocks. Along the way we were discussing the merits or otherwise of using Gore Tex in trail runners and I think we quickly dismissed the idea as a bad one when we frequently found ourselves sploshing through deep puddles and bog. While there are occasional efforts made to make a proper track on the route the norm is that there is only a succession of marker poles and the route follows the best possible way between them. By the time we reached the gap we were well into our stride and our first views down into the Bridia Valley were a joy. Not that we could stay looking up for too long as the steep descent was rocky and slippy and required our full concentration.

Eventually we reached the little road that winds its way into the back of the valley and we ran easily to the start of the "Lack Road" where our next climb awaited us. There is on the lower section a vague track that winds back and forth up the steep slope before petering out and once again you have to hop, skip and jump, if you are able, along boggy rough ground. Eventually after a 300 meter pull we crested the ridge and it was from here we had intended to climb the long ridge to Caher but the wind which at times was really buffetting ensured we had no regrets in heading instead steeply down into the beautiful Derrynafeana Valley. Again great care was needed here but eventually we reached flatter ground and we ran along by the stream in the valley. It was our first time here and I was struck by the beauty of the place. Soon we reached another little lane that twisted, rose and dipped before eventually reaching the Glencar road. We had been on the go for nearly ninety minutes by now so we stopped briefly for a rest and a bite to eat. The weather was showing some signs of improvement and even the odd ray of sunshine appeared. The road here while a bit wider than the others is still twisty and later in the season can be busy with tourist traffic. Today however we only encountered a few cars on this stretch and the four or five kilometers to Glencar were quite pleasant  Along the way Kevin showed off his deep knowledge of all things equine when he pointed out the extremely rare "Horsey Pony Thingy" standing in the rough paddock alongside the road. Astonished and excited I turned to get a look and was disappointed to only see a sad looking donkey looking back at me.
The beautiful Derrynafeana Valley

Typical scenery near Lough Acoose

Perhaps it was this that brought on the "Paula Radcliff" moment.

Heading back with the end in sight
My excitement must have gotten the better of me because the Climbers Inn arrived none too soon and I only just avoided having to do a "Paula Radcliffe". Still the chance to sit and rest for a while was welcome and I emerged refreshed and ready to face the return leg of our journey. The route now leaves the road and follows a "green road" for a couple of K. Here Kevin was determined to redeem himself and showed off his "Cow Whispering" skills by stopping and stroking the nose of an unsuspecting young heifer. Suitably impressed I pressed on. We soon reached the little road that stretches into the Bridia valley and begun the final section of the trip. My lack of long runs and the fact that we were now running directly into the wind told against me and as the nine kilometers to the roadhead passed I struggled more and more. Short sections where I walked helped and eventually we arrived at the stile that marked the start of the climb that would lead back into Coumeenduff. Surprisingly I didn't find the 200+ meter pull too bad and when we eventually crested the gap I was able to enjoy the next downhill section and the return to the car. We were back at 15.05 and while we were tired we were elated with our efforts. It had been a great experience in one of the remotest and wildest places in the country and while there were long sections on the road, these didn't take in any way from the overall feel and experience. Its always such a pleasure to be out and about but when you have good company with fun and laughter added to the mix, lets just say I am looking forward to more.

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