Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tomies Wood Loop...Perhaps For The Last Time

Today I went with Frank for another gander on the Kerry Mountains. The forecast was rubbish and when I got up at six and heard the rain pelting against the window it would have been so easy to say to hell with this and head back to bed but a date with Francis called so I packed up the waterproofs and caught the train to Killarney. After a short discussion we opted to head for Tomies Wood and climb Tomies mountain and if the wind allowed do a semi-horseshoe back to the end of the wood via Shehy Mt. This was the route I had hoped to do when I last visited this area in December 2015 when, while trying for a hill run I tore the medial ligament in my right knee (which still gives me grief) on another windy day. We donned full metal jacket and left the car at 08.15 and after walking through the farm we entered the shelter of the wood.

Almost immediately we were treated to the sight of a group of perhaps fifteen red deer crossing the roadway up ahead of us, including several stags. Here in the shelter I felt overdressed and stuffy with all the clothes on as despite the wind and rain it was quite mild. I heated up further when after a few kilometres we left the forest road and climbed steeply up and out of the wood into the open bog. Now though we felt the full effects of the wind and rain and I began to be glad of the added layers. The long slog up through the saturated boggy ground was tough and when you combined that with the fact that the wind was in our face it was (as Frank said) akin to walking uphill through soft sand. We stuck at it and eventually reached the summit (735mtrs) at 10.25. Its fair to say it wasn't a spot to linger but I was pleased to find that the wind was manageable. ..just, and we could stick to our original plan and head for Shehy. Horizontal rain and buffering gales made for continued tough progress but eventually we reached the turnoff for Shehy and now the wind was at our back. We progressed rapidly and again didn't delay on the 762mtr summit but dropped quickly down the ridge to the broad spur that turns towards the end of the woods. We were in the cloud all the while and we missed the final turn off the spur and went too far past the woods which meant that, in order to avoid  trying to navigate through  dense Rhododendron we had to contour back through some steep wooded and interesting ground before we were able to reach the forest road again. We enjoyed a bite to eat during a lull in the rain and then walked easily back to the car. We had thoroughly enjoyed the "invigorating" outing in weather that Frank described as relentless.

We were in fine form as we walked back through the farm but I knew something was up when I saw the farmer making a direct line across the paddock towards us. We shared an amicable greeting and he politely enquired about our route and when we had started. He then told us that access was no longer permitted to the wood through his property. I told him that we were genuinely unaware and we apologized for inconveniencing him and we parted on friendly terms. I wouldn't be best known for my diplomacy but there really wouldn't have been any point in argueing and any harsh words might jeopardize any future possible conciliation. It is none the less terribly disappointing to once again encounter such issues and I feel the time is long since past when proper legal access rights should have been established. Having just returned from a hiking trip abroad, the backward attitudes that are tolerated here are all the tougher to stomach. It was a sad development in an otherwise smashing outing.
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