Friday, 30 October 2015

Visiting The Reeks From The Quiet Side.....Curraghmore To Cnoc an Chuillinn

29th October 2015;
Yesterday I went back to Kerry again for another outing on the mountains. After doing the Hags Glen round last week I wanted to do something a little different today so I decided to risk the long drive into the Black Valley. I arrived at Kate Kearneys before the jarvies had started to ply their trade so I had an uninterrupted drive through the extraordinary Gap of Dunloe. It is always a breathtaking sight and I found myself excited by the prospect of once again immersing myself in this wonderful landscape. Then you crest the "Head of the Gap" and the Black Valley lies displayed below you and beyond the mountains stretch into the distance. It is simply beautiful. Even though you have been driving for several miles on a twisting narrow little road to reach here you still have a long way to go to reach the furthest recesses of the valley. Thankfully the road had been resurfaced and it isn't too bad on the suspension of the car now. I drove until the road joins the Kerry way and where it becomes the entrance to a private home and I parked here. Even though I had had a clear run it had still taken over half an hours drive to reach here from Kate Kearneys. I visit this furthest spot all too seldom as it is a pain to get here in the tourist season and in the winter the nature of the road can make it dangerous if there is a risk of frost etc. Anyway I was here now and I was loving it. Here is just about as remote as it get in these parts and the scenery is epic with everything from waterfalls to high rocky mountains to please the eye.
The east Reeks from Curraghmore

Leaving the car

Cnoc na Toinne

 I walked along the Kerry Way for a couple of kilometers before heading up to the right and heading for the wide gully that descends from Curraghmore 822 mtrs. I went up a twisting ramp on its left side instead and exited onto the summit by climbing up some mixed wet ground that gave me the opportunity to use my hands. I have been on this top a few times before but it must have been five or more years since my last visit and today I was blown away by the beauty of the place. The views across to the main ridge of The Reeks was particularly pleasing. It's amazing the difference a slightly different perspective can make. It is a relatively short and easy plod up to the summit of Caher and now I was back on familiar ground. The one thing that struck me , apart form the views, was the distinct chill in the air. Here at 1000mtrs there was more than a hint of the approaching winter in the breeze. I could see the usual numbers heading for or leaving the summit of Carrauntoohil and it made me appreciate all the more the quietude of the route I had chosen (I hadn't seen a soul up to this point). I had a bite to eat on the summit of Carrauntoohil and descended to the "Ladder" and continued to the summit of Cnoc an Chuillinn. I then descended to Brazzil and from there went directly down to the car. Four hours forty five minutes for a thirteen kilometer round with about thirteen hundred meters of climbing and the only place I had seen anybody was on Carrauntoohil. I must venture deep into the Black Valley again soon.
Carrauntoohil from the summit of Caher

Looking down into the Brida Valley


The view west from the summit of Carrauntoohil
Looking back from the summit of Conc an Chuillinn

Towards Killarney
Heading down and trying to race the weather

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Hags Glen Horseshoe

I went back to Killarney today for a good blowout on The Reeks again. With the recent dry weather continuing I decided that the Hags Glen Horseshoe would be a worthy day out. It was a little disappointing to arrive back and see things looking a bit grey but I was confident things would improve as the day went on. I left the car at 10.15 and set off into the glen in good spirits. My right hamstring has been tight for the last while and it was giving me some gib as I went in but it was okay. I opted to head up Cruach Mhor first and as usual it felt a bit of a grind. Unfortunately the mist came in as I went up but once I was up at the grotto things opened up again and I got some nice views for a while. Alas the mist returned and I spent all the way to near the summit of Carrauntoohil without any views but it is still a joy to walk the ridge. Thankfully the remainder of the route was mostly in the clear and I even caught some sun on Benkeeragh. Back down to the car in 6 hours 15 mins and I was well pleased with my day. Who mightn't be too long before we have some snow to enjoy.
Thankfully just out for a joyride

Always a great sight

Things cleared up when I gained the ridge..for a while

The East Reeks

Friday, 16 October 2015

A Holiday In Annecy October 9th-13th

Nothing outdoorsy or adventuresome about this post but I feel Annecy is worth including. It felt a bit weird returning to Geneva so soon after leaving the Alps but I was too preoccupied with ensuring we got  to our travel connections in a timely fashion to notice too much. Using public transport to get to Annecy is a little more bothersome than lets say Chamonix as it requires (normally) a couple of changes. It all worked out well for us as we got the train from the airport into the city and caught the SNCF train to Aix les Bains where another train took us into the centre of the city. An Adagio aparthotel was our choice of hotel and its excellent location near the station meant that we were settled and ready to explore shortly after 2pm.
A selection of pictures from Annecy

We stayed a total of four nights and to be honest we were sorry that we hadn't booked for longer. It is a gorgeous town with an old sector that is utterly charming and a vibrant modern sector that has much to please the visitor as well. While there there was a "return from the Alps" festival that was a delight of pageantry and family fun with lots of authentic Savoie delicacies to be enjoyed as we wandered through the packed narrow streets. Another display of interest was the enormous market that covered several streets that was crammed full of local produce and delights. We also visited the nearby city of Chambery that was once capital of the region before the hoi poli switched to Turin. Its plazas and grand buildings juxtaposed wonderfully with the narrow streets and "secret" squares the were scattered throughout the city.

The old town is wonderful

A 13th century building on an island. You can see why it is called the Venice of the Alps

The modern side was lovely as well

Only in France

Just a fraction of the huge market

They make a lovely sound

The parade

We very briefly visited Aix les Bains and saw enough to promise ourselves that if or when we return we will spend more time in this thermal spa town. A quick visit to Chamonix completed our tour of the area and it is fair to say that if you removed the mountain scenery from the town its charm is sadly exposed when compared to the other places we had been. For exercise I did nothing more than go for a couple of runs along by the lakeshore which (while in an undeniably stunning setting) was an exercise in dodge the people and cyclists that teemed in the area. I don't think I would like to go here in the high season as it must be packed to the rafters and would not be to our liking. A walk from the SNCF train station (currently closed and undergoing major reconstruction) to the central Swiss Rail station of Cornavin allowed us a decent glimpse of the bustling global city of Geneva before we caught our flight back home.
Aix les Bains

Le posh pissoir

A selcetion of pictures from Chambery

Some beautiful modern architecture as well

You can just make out a cross on the summit. Enormous at over 70ft high

Impressive and curious sculpture

An all too short visit but it is definitely a place we feel we would go back to and next time perhaps hire a car so that we could explore the outlying villages etc.
La Tournette in evening light

One of the reasons why I needed more exercise