Monday, April 1, 2013

The Cappagh Glen Killarney Easter 13

A swim anyone??

Yesterday I went back to Killarney to meet Frank and we decided as the day was wet and windy to visit the Cappagh Glen near Lough Guitane. It had been a while since either of us had been here and we were looking forward to seeing again one of the most beautiful places in the area. Once we had negotiated the obstacle course that is the road to the trailhead we set off into the biting wind and rain. For a change instead of heading directly into the glen we opted to climb the steep northeast flank of Eskduff Mountain. Fortunately the rain had eased off and we were able to enjoy the flat walk past the productive pastures before we reached the wilds of the inner glen. Here we had to cross the Cappagh River which today after the dry spell of weather presented no problems. At our crossing point there was a glorious pool just below a little waterfall which we were briefly tempted to have a plunge in but good sense prevailed and we vowed to return when better weather arrived.

We are going that way??

The face of exhaustion

Wonderful views

What a trooper

The slog up Eskduff has little to recommend it but at least we gained height quickly and soon the views opened up and afforded us good reasons to stop and rest. The wind was pretty fierce and at times it was a struggle to maintain balance as it tried to blow us this way and that. The clouds that blanketed the top were fairly scudding by and promised that conditions weren’t going to get better as we got higher. Eventually we reached the summit plateau and we briefly toyed with the idea of turning west and heading for Stoompa but the wind and now snow that was hitting us made up our minds and we opted to traverse across and descend to the back of the Cappagh Glen. Here we entered the beautiful wild terrain that remains one of Killarney’s best kept secrets. Even though the heights reached here are low in comparison to the larger neighbours nearby there is a truly wild and remote feel to this place that is rare to find in Ireland. Rugged rocky bluffs and boggy basins make it tough ground to cross and you are unlikely to see another person to disturb you. Even the red deer we saw seemed startled by the intrusion into their domain. After we sheltered behind some rocks for lunch we had to head straight into the wind to reach the valley and here the snow, that was hitting us in a horizontal assault made it tough going, especially when it catches you right into the eyes.
Head down into the wind

Having fun really

Corkscrew oaks

Fairy Glen

Eventually we reached the sanctuary of the ancient oak woods that straddle the river in the glen. This is a magic place where trees are gnarled and twisted into strange formations and everything is blanketed by a generous coating of moss. Sheltered from the elements it is easy to linger here and imagine fantastic adventures with a child’s mind. Soon enough we reluctantly leave the wood and enter the flat open ground at the back of the glen where the eye is drawn along the glen that is flanked on the west by Eskduff and the east by the rugged Bennaunmore. We followed the river out through the rocky narrows and all too soon left the untamed landscape behind and re-entered farmland. It had been a fairly short outing but what it lacked in distance it more than made up for in ambiance. We even enjoyed the harsh weather as it all added up to make the experience feel even wilder. I had had two very different mountain days in succession with different conditions and goals. The one thing that links them is the great company I was fortunate enough to enjoy on both days. 

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