Saturday, July 1, 2017

A compendium...Bringing it up to date

Wow. It's been a tough old year to date. We have now lost both my wife's parents and watching them both die was a harrowing experience to put it mildly. I have tried to get out when I can as it allows me to somewhat clear my head and I find that exercise it something that helps to keep me sane. Paddy died in early May and straight away we were into the final days of Kathleen who died last week. Growing old is a bitch.
So here is a short account of the days out I have had.

I managed to persuade James Moore to come for an early morning jaunt on the Galtee mountains in mid May. James has been plagued by injuries for a fair while now and has gotten out of the exercise routine so I opted to head for Temple Hill as the route of choice. This is a sentimental route for me as it was actually my first ever mountain route. Back in the day a friend introduced a very overweight me to the mountains on a cloudy wet August day. We parked in the Pigeon Rock Glen that day and the couple of hundred steep meters that it took to exit the glen and reach the spur that rises to the summit nearly killed me. The cloud was down and we were soon in the mist and being lashed by rain. I was exhausted and soaked and I loved every minute of it. Today it was warm and muggy and the cloud was again down low but it was great to have James' company again and chat and banter flowed as we caught up on our news. Midges were a problem whenever we stopped and this ensured we plodded on and we weren't long in reaching the stony cairned summed. A bite to eat (always happens when I'm out and about) was enjoyed on top and we set off back down the same way we came up. About halfway back down the spur we dropped down early into the glen and followed the stream back to the car. A short outing to be sure and we had a dearth of views but it was enjoyable none the less. Hopefully more with James to come.

I returned a short while after that to The Cappagh of my favourite places. It was a pleasant June day with little wind and light cloud but the forecast was for rain in the evening but I was hoping to be down and home before that arrived. I parked up and set off in through the grazing sheep into the wilder part of the glen. I thought about climbing up Eskduff mountain on the right hand side of the glen first but this requires crossing the river and after a quick inspection showed that there was a fair volume of water in it after the recent rains I discounted that idea and instead for the north spur of Benaunmore. This gives some scrambling options and is the most direct way to the summit. As I reached the top the weather seemed to already be on the turn and a stiff wind carried the first drops of rain. I was somewhat dispirited and decided to drop into the back of the glen and possibly head home. The woods in the glen are always a delight and even though the day was promising to be short I was still glad I came back. Walking easily out alongside the river I came to a narrowing where I decided to go out on some rocks to take a picture back into the glen. I was surprised and delighted to see a "pont natural" over the river formed by a large slabby rock so I changed plans and climbed up the steep face of Eskduff from here. Some excellent little scrambly sections presented themselves and I even surprised a fallow deer on the way up. Once on top I turned south and entered the glen below the waterfalls from Lough Fineen and followed the river through the delightful woods and then left the glen. I was pleased that I had dome the extra bit of climbing and I felt the better for it. And the weather had stayed good as well..
Gaining some height..looking over Lough Guitane


I finally descended from near the rain drops :)

The summits may not be high but no less beautiful

Verdant rocky and wild

This is about as good as the weather got while I was in Connemara 😢

 Some thing of a heatwave arrived in early June and with a long weekend off work I decided on a last minute whim (and with the blessing of my beloved) to head to Connemara and hopefully enjoy this most gorgeous of places in blissful sunshine. I set off early on a warm sunny Saturday morning and "enjoyed" the long drive to the mid-west. Alas things started to cloud over a little as I neared Galway city and by the time I was driving through Recess I had my lights on and the wipers were going. The mist and cloud were so low that if you were a stranger to this place you wouldn't have a clue that there were any mountains round about. Still I was here now and I parked my car and opted to do the Glengoaghan Horseshoe on the Twelve Bens. This is one of the finest walks in the country but today I couldn't see a bloody thing. I entered the cloud just above the youth hostel on Ben Lettery and I didn't re-emerge until I was near the valley floor below Derryclare. I had kinda hoped that as the cloud was so low I might have broken through into the sunshine higher up but it was not to be. Still it was an excellent exercise in map and compass use so I guess it wasn't a complete waste of a day. I got back to the car after six and three quarter hours wet and tired and hopeful of better weather tomorrow. I went and camped in the excellent Clifden camping and caravan park which is about a mile outside the town on the Westport road. It has great facilities for cooking etc and is a place I will return to. I got up the following morning to discover that if anything the weather was worse today and drizzle and fog covered the landscape. Bloody typical that I would choose to visit the only corner of the whole country that wasn't enjoying the heatwave. I had hoped to go for a cycle today but fog made it too dangerous so I upped sticks and headed back the 245kilometers to home. It was 15 degrees as I left and 26degrees when I reached home. To be honest I wasn't settled being away so I was just as glad to be back.

Howling Ridge😀

One of the advantages of being home was that the weather was once again stellar and so on Monday morning I headed back to The Reeks and decided to climb Howling Ridge. After my trip to Snowdonia where I climbed like a gimp, its fair to say my confidence wasn't at an all time high as I headed to the start of the route. Also my right knee was again being troublesome as I had given it a strain (the opposite side to my medial ligament) in Snowdonia and I was wondering if climbing would make it worse. I did some warming up on the few rock steps as you head for the Heavenly Gates and all felt well, better that well actually. It was wonderful to put my hands on really warm super grippy rock. I started up the route and carefully but easily made progress. Once again I have to say that while it is a lovely exciting route it really doesn't merit the grade of VDiff and I would rate it as Moderate at best. Nowhere is there anything difficult and all steep bits are well supplied with super juggy holds so it is easy to maintain a sense of security despite the occasional exposed section. I passed a "guide" with a client who were pitching the route and I think the client was a little surprised to find someone soloing up past him. I suppose it took some of the "epic-ness"off the day. As I reached the end of the route some wispy clouds rolled in and this cooled the temperatures a bit. A relaxed lunch and I completed the day by crossing over to Benkeeragh and descending alongside the Hags Tooth. This is a steep abutment of rock that I feel sure offers some superb climbing and I feel certain that if it was across the water it would be busy with rock climbers most of the time, yet here I have never seen anyone giving it a go.
Carrauntoohil with my descent route in the foreground

Looking down at the top section of Howling Ridge


There must be some routes on this
Ruby's first wild-camp

A couple of days ago on something of a last minute whim I took Ruby back to Mangerton for a spot of wildcamping. It was a pleasant evening as I left the car with some cloud clinging to the tops but I was hopeful that it would clear and a nice sunset might be enjoyed. It is difficult to go walking with a dog in Ireland where the farmers hold total sway and they are reluctant to allow dogs anywhere on their lands. This is of course understandable as they frequently get grief from irresponsible owners who don't train or control their dogs effectively. I have witnessed these dogs chasing sheep in the past and I have no sympathy for those owners but my little Ruby is well trained and while on the hill she doesn't bother anything or anybody. I never keep her on a leash as I keep her under close control at all times and indeed she is very careful herself to keep me close by as well. She was in her element as we rose up the trail. Nosing and snuffling with her tail constantly on the go it was lovely to share this outing with her. A gentle breeze kept the midges at bay but as I got higher the breeze became a bit stronger and a little wispy cloud started to drift across below the summit. I decided to pitch up my tent near the "Devils Punchbowl" which nestles at the 700mtr contour around 130mtrs below the summit plateau. This is a lovely spot with great views across to The Reeks and over Killarney but alas by the time we got there all views were engulfed in thick mist. The breeze was a bit stronger as well and it was also decidedly chilly as it had swung around to the north. Poor Ruby wasn't too happy to have stopped and all she wanted to continue on the hike. I set up our home for the night and after sorting out dinner (for both of us 😃) we retreated into the tent to try and warm up. I hadn't expected it to be this chilly but I guess at 700mtrs in a stiff breeze with temperatures forecast to drop to 10 or 11 degrees it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. Poor Ruby definitely was feeling the cold until I draped her in my coat and she settled down to sleep. She was as good as gold all night and we both slept well. It rained for most of the night and well into the morning so it was an easy decision to snuggle in the sleeping bag and wait for things to clear up. Once it stopped we shared a sandwich, packed everything up and set off around the lake for the top. I had thought that a walk towards the Windy Gap and a return along the Old Kenmare Road might have made for a nice outing today but on the summit plateau the wind was quite vicious and the mist was super dense ( to the point of it being difficult to see Ruby when she was 10mtrs away) so we returned to the car. It had been a short outing but Ruby was well pleased and I must say so was I. Perhaps more overnight adventures await us in the future.
Orchids and Bog Asphodel

Over Lough Leane towards The Sleive Mish Mountains

I think its this way daddy

The views that were soon to be denied us.

RIP....Paddy and Kathleen
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