Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Horses Glen Horseshoe. A Blast Of Winter On Mangerton

I awoke this morning to find that my nose was stuffed up (yet again) and the rain/sleet was thunderous. This head cold is proving to be a bitch of a thing to shake off and as I sniffed and snuffled my way through breakfast I was seriously considering contacting Frank and putting off our rendezvous in Killarney. Now I'm so glad I didn't, it was a lovely day.
In his element

More weather on the way

By The Devils Punchbowl

I set off back on the train again and Frank was his usual punctual self and we set off for Mangerton (after our almost obligatory coffees) to see what we could do. The skies were showing substantial patches of blue and there seemed to be a good chance that we would get some decent views. There was a good dusting of snow down to below six hundred meters and this coupled with the stiff wind and distinctly chilly temperatures promised that we were in for a blast of winter. I wasn't feeling too bad by now and I reckoned that a big helping of fresh air was just what I needed. I put on full waterproofs and gloves and was cozy and snug starting out. We decided to climb Mangerton via the pony track and depending on conditions, do the full round above the Horses Glen all the was around to Stoompa and return across the bog to our car. A worthy outing of about 14 kilometers with about 900 meters of climbing. Nice light bags meant we made good progress and we were soon enjoying expanding views in all directions. Behind, Killarney hugged Lough Leane which in turn swept across to the base of Tomies and the Reeks. To the east Crohane elegantly drew the eye as it rose from the shores of Lough Guitane and other hills stretched into the distance. Eventually we arrived at the lake called the Devils Punchbowl and now the weather really closed in and from here to the summit we were blasted by horizontal snow and spindrift. Thankfully the wind was to our backs and we were spared trying to make progress into the worst of it. The temperature was now -1 Celsius and I guess it felt much much lower when the wind-chill was taken into account. It was delightful to find ourselves in sometimes near whiteout conditions as we went through a dense cloud of spindrift.

The Devils Punchbowl

Towards Stoompa
The cliffs on Mangertons north side

What do you mean stop gurning :o)

Looking back from Stoompa

One of my favorite views
Then as we arrived at the top the skies cleared and we were treated to wonderful views across to Mangerton North and onward to Stoompa. Underfoot the ground had a several centimeters of snow on top of nicely frozen ground  which made for lovely easy progress. The walk along the edge of the impressive cliffs that drop into the Horses Glen is always delightful and today with the wind at our backs and snow after turning the landscape to a winters delight we were in our element. We were constantly pausing to soak in the landscape and we all too soon arrived at the col beneath the turn  towards Stoompa. Here we enjoyed a bite to eat and then once we turned for Stoompa we were once again treated to the full force of the wind and another squall ensured that we kept our eyes lowered so as not to be blinded by needles of snow. Stoopma came and went and we descended quickly towards the easy spur that led to the lake. Here once again we were treated to another exfoliating blast of hailstones but thankfully these too passed and blue skies once again asserted themselves. The long slog across the bog from the lake to the pony track is never fun but eventually we reached good ground again and shortly thereafter the car. We even managed to change in nice dry weather which turned to heavy rain as we drove away. Result. It had been a lovely outing which gave us a great blast of the best that a winters day has to offer. We enjoyed it immensely and we were only too aware that it might be our last chance to savor a snowy outing for some time, but then never know.
Enjoying the day

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