Saturday, May 11, 2013

Purple Mountain in the Wind

Stunning Black Lough
What is good weather?. It seems so long since we have had a stretch of decent weather in this part of the world.  March 2012 we had a long sunny and warm spell of weather and it seems to have been wet and windy ever since. Today was no exception as there was a stiff wind and frequent heavy showers about as we set off from Killarney and headed into the Gap of Dunloe with the intention of climbing Purple Mountain. We drove into the Gap as far as Cushnavally Lake where we parked up and changed and set off up the little lane  past "Turnpike Rock" until we were just past Black Lough when we turned left and made our way up the steep ground towards Glas Loch. This afforded frequent scrambly sections and we enjoyed picking out the best and most interesting bits along the way. This was also a first chance for me to break in my new boots. I had been looking for a lightweight pair of boots that would also be able for rough ground and also be able to take a crampon so I opted for La Sportiva Trango Alp boots which seemed to tick almost all of the boxes.

Nice scrambly sections

Reduced to tears..its windy and its raining....big jessy :o)

The conditions low down were reasonably pleasant but we were in no doubt as to the strength of the wind on high as we could see the speed the clouds scudded past the summits. We emerged past the scrambly bits above the lake and we were soon following the frequent trails that headed towards the summit slopes. The wind was now strong enough to buffit us and unfortunately a shower of rain arrived at this point as well. Now we were in no doubt that summer was still some way off and the horizontal rain that felt like it would scour the skin from our faces and the gale that threatened to knock us over meant that comfort quickly disappeared. We struggled round to the leeward side of the mountain and this gave us some bit of shelter from the elements but thankfully the rain was passing and views were once again distracting us from our travails. Eventually we reached the bleak summit and here we gratefully entered the round shelter cairn. A welcome bite to eat refreshed and restored us and we were ready to set off again along the ridge towards Tomies.

Towards the Black Valley
Thankfully the weather had improved and we were now heading more or less in the direction of the wind. There was a brief discussion about cutting the route short and heading down directly to the car but we were drying out and warming up so we opted to continue to Tomies. As we went we gradually quartered around until by the time we were descending from Tomies summit we were once again heading directly into the wind. Thankfully we didn't have to contend with rain and as we got lower the ferocity of the wind eased and the temperature rose. When we reached the boggy plateau above the Colleen Ban Cottage we were delighted to see a majestic sea eagle soaring a few hundred meters away. We stopped and quietly admired the beauty and grace of this giant of the sky and the sheer size of the bird was really emphasized when a territorial raven decided it didn't like this threat to its probable nearby nest and harried the eagle until it disappeared from our view. The raven (which is a big bird in its own right) looked really small alongside the eagle and it is one of my dearest wishes that I will one day get to see really close up sighting of one of these wonderful creatures. Another great bit of news is that there is a good chance that the bird we had seen could have been one of the proud parents of the chick that recently hatched in the Killarney National Park. It is to be really hoped that this is the first successful breeding of many and in future years we be able to see indigenous birds soar in our skies.  We arrived back at the car a little windblown and very happy with our day. Yet again laughter and such a relaxed friendliness made the day just fly by and I look forward to to our next day out which will hopefully not be in the too distant future.

Looking down towards Kate Kearneys

The beautiful Gap of Dunloe

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