Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Climb of GaltyMore Mountain

I have recently realized that I have been very remiss in visiting the range that were my introduction to the great outdoors, The Galtee Mountains. It had been nearly fourteen months since my last visit so I resolver to head there this morning when I finished work and do The Attychraan Horseshoe. This is one of my favorite routes on this compact range and is about fourteen kilometers in length and gives a wild and remote feeling route to Galtymore 919mtrs. I had hoped that there would be a hard frost overnight which would make going on the boggy terrain a bit easier but it was a few degrees above freezing as I set off. I parked at the roadhead at Carrigeen and set off in the predawn along a forestry road for about a kilometer and a half before climbing steeply to the shoulder of Knocknagalty at over five hundred meters. It was well after dawn by now and I was also already enveloped in thick cloud which, given the forecast for rain later in the morning, looked set to be there constantly throughout. Less steep ground now for a while until another stiff pull up the nose of Knockduff reminded me of my lack of hill days and made me aware of the extra weight I was carrying as a training exercise for Scotland. Here there is easier ground until the final pull to the plateau like summit called Dawsons Table. From above seven hundred meters the ground started to freeze and old patches of snow remained. On the summit plateau there was a stiff wind and everywhere had a nice coating of hoar frost. I guess the temperature was a few degrees below freezing and when you added in the wind it was very chilly indeed. The wind was one of those that made the cold penetrate into your sinuses when you walked into it.
The Chilly Summit

 Thankfully once I reached the cairn I turned about and it was now mostly at my back as I headed west towards Slievecushnabinnia. From early doors I had the map and compass out but once I was down from the plateau and I reached the wall that runs along the ridge as far as Lyreacappul I could relax and use this for navigation. I was recently talking to a colleague who got lost while on a hike hereabouts and it is easy to understand why. The ridges and spurs are very wide and relatively featureless and when the mist is really thick like it was today visibility can be as little as thirty meters. It was amazing how near I got to sheep before I could see them. Still it was nice to have the compass out it was a good training exercise. Anyway I walked above the ghostly chasm of the coum of Lough Curra and followed the wall as far as Carrignabinnia. Normally I would continue as far as Lyracappul for the outstanding views that are afforded but today there wasn't much point and besides the promised rain had long since arrived and was being delivered with force be the wind. So once again the compass was employed to navigate the slopes of Bengower and eventually down to my car. Despite not having any views once I was above five hundred meters I enjoyed my morning immensely. The Galtees may lack the rugged cliffs and narrow ridges of the mountains further to the west but they have a wild and remote feel to them on a day such as this. It won't be too long before I will make a return visit.

Back down below the mist
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