Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sneem April 2015

Margaret and myself recently decamped to one of our favourite places for a few days....Sneem. We stayed in the excellent apartments at the Sneem Hotel and we were blessed by good weather as well. As I was in this wild and wonderful landscape it would have been rude not to sample some of what is on offer thereabouts so after a run along a little piece of the Kerry Way on Tuesday evening I got up early-ish on Wednesday to go for a short hillwalk. My route of choice was the nearby Coomcallee horseshoe. Alas the stunning weather of the previous day was replaced by a combination of fog and misty cloud this morning and shortly after leaving the car I had the map and compass out to ensure I was heading in the right direction even at the start. I was hopeful that it was just fog blotting the views and that I would soon rise above it but it wasn't to be. A short story shorter I didn't get any views whilst on top and didn't emerge under the clouds until I was well into my final descent. I didn't mind however, as it was a good exercise to have to use the map and compass to make my way safely and I often find that things can be quite atmospheric in such conditions. A total of eight kilometres and 800 meters of climbing in three hours was a nice start to the day and as the weather cleared up beautifully in the afternoon we enjoyed a lovely touristic experience for the rest of the day.
Twas more than the mist dripping into my eyes. I was a tad warm.

Briefly out of the mist at the col

Moody cliffs stretch away to the right.

Back down under the cloud looking at the Coomcallee cliffs

Seriously good boldering to be enjoyed. The big ones are house size

The route taken that evening is up the left and down the right...simples

The last time I was in the area I did a lovely but tough 95 K cycle with 1000 meters of ascent. It starts from the hotel and heads to the Ballaghbeama Gap, then onwards to Ballaghisheen Pass , from there on to Waterville and then home the stunning coast road which is part of the ring of Kerry. Now its fair to say that I'm no great shakes on the bike and the little I have done this year didn't exactly prepare me too well for it but overall I was pretty pleased with my efforts. The climb to Ballaghbeama is a toughie with a 13 degree gradient but I managed to huff and puff my way to the crest. A brief rest and I enjoyed the downhill section towards Glencar which passes through some of the wildest and most rugged landscape in Ireland. Then it was on to Ballaghasheen and the views just kept on coming. If I was disappointed with the weather the previous morning, today I had nothing but blue sky and warm sun. It was magical.
Shortly after starting out. Not a bad backdrop.

Ballaghbeama Gap

The way onwards


 It didn't make the climb to the pass any easier and I suspect some of the noises I was making towards the top would have sent alarm bells ringing for anyone unfortunate enough to have heard them. Another brief rest at the top and I think the view back towards the Reeks is truly special. Then there is the long but relatively flat ride all the way to the coastal village of Waterville and now the deep blue of the wild Atlantic is a joy to behold. Alas it isn't that easy to enjoy it as there is a long drag out of the village but boy oh boy, when you reach the high headland at the crest the scenery is breathtaking (if you had any left). The Skelligs, Scarrif island and the serene Derrynane compete for your attention. I actually felt pretty good but I hit something of a wall with about 15 kilometres to go but I managed to keep going to the end. I was banjaxed at the end but elated at the same time. With weather such as this it was a huge privilege to be able to ride through some of the most beautiful landscape I have ever been in.
Back towards Waterville

Scariff Islands


That evening I went after dinner and walked to the top of nearby Bheann Mhor which at 308 meters was plenty after the exertions of the morning. It is a rough wild little hill that requires a lot more effort to reach the top than you would expect. It offered a lovely viewpoint and as the sun set I soaked up as much of the views as I could. It was a fitting finale to my efforts this trip. I hope it won't be too long before we go back.
Views from Bheann Mhor

Bheann Mhor

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