The Beara Peninsula is one of a series of peninsulas that jut out into the Atlantic on the southwest of Ireland. Each one is different and each one is gorgeous but I think that the Beara is my favourite. That said it is also the one I visit the least and I aimed to put that right this weekend. I planned to go down on Saturday morning and walk and camp that night, repeat the process on Sunday and meet up with Frank on Monday for a hike in the area. The weather forecast was pretty good with fine weather promised until rain arrived on Monday evening so I was set fair. I got the train to Cork where I caught the bus to Castletownbere and I alighted (after three ass cramping hours on the bus) in a sunny bustling harbour town at 11.30. I didn't have a lot of gas for my stove and I did a quick tour of the shops and managed to get some on the third attempt and after a coffee and cake I left the bustle behind and set off for the wilds.
|A delightful little bridge after leaving Castletownbere|
|Leaving Castletownbere harbour behind|
|Entering the wilds|
Leaving the harbour behind I crossed over the bridge and joined the Beara Way up a little laneway that led gently up to open wild ground. A green road continued for another kilometer towards Maulin 621mtrs which was my first target for the day. Leaving the roadway I had to continue on bog and rock and this would make for the theme for the next couple of days. Carrying food and my tent etc made for a fairly heavy bag but I was making decent progress nonetheless. I did stop fairly often to look around and soak in the wonderful views. The town nestled in its harbour behind me and as I got higher the rugged beauty of the whole peninsula became more and more apparent. From the summit my next top was Knocknagree and after this things just get more and more rugged as you head for the "daddy" of the mountains hereabouts Hungry Hill 685mtrs. Don't let the modest height fool you as this is a beast of a mountain that is rugged and wild and offers scrambling and climbing (particularly on the east side) that rivals any to be found anywhere. One of the distinguishing features of walking in this area is the strata of the rock that tends to cross your direction of travel and makes for awkward and tiring going.
|Hungry Hill beckons|
|Looking towards Dursey Island and the tail end of Beara|
|Looking back towards the start|
|The steep and rocky descent from Hungry Hill|
|Towards the distant Skelligs|
|Heading for the Healy Pass looking down towards Glanmore Lake|
|The east face of Hungry Hill|
|Some of the remote farms|
A reasonable sleep and good breakfast saw me on the move again at 09.20 and continuing on my way. There was a bit more cloud about this morning but it was above the tops so I still had the wonderful views. There was however some rain to be seen across the water on The Reeks but I was hopeful that I would stay dry. I quickly arrived at the Healy Pass which offers a very popular cycle route that resembles an Alpine pass where the roads chicanes its way up from Adrigole. I was on a different mission however so I crossed the road and I was almost immediately alone in unspoiled wild country again. The first top of the day was Knockowen which gave a gradual climb of over 300mtrs and it was here that some rain also arrived. It was gone however by the time I had put my rain shell on and covered the rucksack and it stayed dry for the rest of the day. After leaving the summit you are faced once again with continuous bands of rock that bar the way and make progress awkward. When you are not struggling with the rock you are walking on generally sodden bog so every kilometer is hard earned. I was in no particular hurry to get anywhere so I took my time and just enjoyed the experience.
|The long and winding road|
|Looks deceptively straightforward|
|The way way back|
|The Commeengera Horseshoe..Mondays Walk??|
The weather was showing signs of improvement as well and by the time I stopped for a bit to eat at the confluence of several streams in a very boggy glen below Ram's Hill it was quite warm and sunny. Even the midges seemed to be playing ball and I was left in peace to enjoy my rest. After lunch the 200mtr pull to Ram's Hill passed easily enough and there followed a long drag to Caha Mountain 608 mtrs and a fairly easy two kilometers to my final top Coomnadiha 644mtrs. Now I had a choice to make. As I said I was to meet Frank the following morning and I reckoned the beautiful Cummeengera Horseshoe would make a fitting end to the weekend but where to best meet him was the issue. I needed to find somewhere within easy striking distance of the road but I also wanted to make the most of today and explore as much of the mountains as I could so I could either head northeast and perhaps stay in Glaninchiquin or even beyond to Dromoughty or I could make a turn to the northwest and head for Knockreagh which had the advantage of being able to camp high up that night and gave easy access to the road the following morning. I chose the latter option. The rocky strata had been mostly left behind by now but the sodden boggy ground remained a constant but the remaining four kilometers passed easily enough. I was once again on the lookout for somewhere to pitch my tent and the little lake at the top offered some promise but the ground around it was super boggy and rough so I continued on. I passed Knockgarrif and came to a level patch alongside a green road which had a nice spring of water and had several places where I could pitch my tent..result. Once again I had been on the move for six and a half hours and I felt I had made a worthwhile effort today as well. What a spot it was to spend the evening. The view was astounding and it was pure pleasure to while away the evening as I cooked my dinner, had tea and generally chilled out. I had high hopes of witnessing a wonderful sunset but alas the cloud increased in the late evening and by 10pm it had started to rain. I hadn't checked the weather forecast in a couple of days but I was hopeful that it was just a short blip in the fine weather...I was wrong.
|Looking into the Rabach Glen|
|And I thought the first campsite was good..wow|
|Kilmakillogue and Ardgroom harbours|
|A wee bit different this morning|