Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Lough Googh Horseshoe Kerry

Tuesday May 13th;

After receiving my replacement pair of La Sportiva Trango Alp boots yesterday (the last ones were letting in water), I decided to head to the Reeks again this morning after my night shift to try and break them in. Clear skies and little breeze greeted me when I emerged this morning but there was more cloud the further west I went. Still I was confident things wouldn't be too bad and as I was so early I decided to drive through the Gap of Dunloe and do the Lough Googh Horseshoe. During the tourist season the gap is used by Jarveys who ferry people by horse and cart through this most scenic of places. They are an obnoxious breed and they regularly intimidate and stop people driving this public road so that they can preserve their business. They also regularly obstruct anybody driving through by not giving way etc, so I seldom venture through this way in summer as it is generally not worth the hassle.
Looking into the Black Valley

The East Reeks beckon

I had been trying to remember the last time I did this route and I reckon it must be three years or more so it seemed beyond time to revisit it as it was always one of my favorites. I parked down by the church in the Black Valley and I was on the move by 09.20. The weather was showing sign of clearing up and the cloud was now above the tops. The views into the furthest reaches of the valley towards Knockduff and ahead to the lofty peaks of the east Reeks are great and straight away I was shrugging off the fatigue of the night and looking forward to the trip ahead. After about a kilometer on the road you break onto the open mountain at the hairpin bend and slog up the wet ground to the first top of the day Drishana, at a mere 464 mtrs but I was struggling a little and I had about 400 meters of ascent done by now. It is however a lovely spot and the views across towards Purple mountain and particularly up towards the Reeks and great. From here the broad ridge rises to the summit of Cnoc an Tarbh at 655 mtrs before dropping a bit and then rising again to Cnoc na Bracha at 731 mtrs. Here now you are on the Reeks ridge proper and this is the first significant peak in the Reeks walk. Head now southwest to the col above Alohart and from here the ridge narrows a bit and you rise in a series of steps to the wonderful eerie of Cruach Mor 932 meters.
The Reeks from the summit of Cruach Mor

 Here the real fun starts and today I was determined to enjoy the wonderful scrambling that is to be had from here all the way to top of Cnoc na Peiste around a kilometer away. I stuck faithfully to the crest of the ridge and went over every rock outcrop of the crenellated ridge until I reached An Garbh or the Big Gun 939 mtrs. Down steeply and then the excellent knife edge ridge rises exhilaratingly upwards. By sticking as faithfully as possible to the absolute crest an exciting airy time is to be had and all too soon you find yourself just below the summit at 988 mtrs. Here is a great spot to relax and savour the whole experience. Now descend southeasterly towards Feabrahy and drop down to the wonderfully situated Lough Googh which nestles 500 meters below the ridge. From here head as best you can towards the hairpin bend far below and then back to the car. Although it isn't a long route, there is around 1200 meters of climbing and it has one of the best scrambles that can be enjoyed in these parts. I think I won't leave it so long before my next visit.
Excellent Scrambling

The "Crux"

Long way down

Some impressive rock behind Lough Googh

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