Monday, July 31, 2017

A Summer Break In Sneem.

Last week Margaret and myself decided to brave the high season and headed to the excellent self catering apartments at the Sneem Hotel for a well deserved family break (Ruby included 🐺). We were staying from Sunday to Thursday and the weather promised to be good for the first couple of days at least.
A nice relaxing jaunt around the quieter sections of the grounds at Muckross gave us an appetite for a pancake at a very busy Strawberry Fields cafe (very disappointing) and we arrived in the late afternoon at a busy hotel. Rest and relaxation was the order of the day for the rest of the evening.

I got up early Monday morning and the plan was to go for one of my favourite cycles--a circuit over Ballaghbeama Gap, Ballaghisheen Gap and then into Waterville and back to the hotel along a section of the beautiful Ring of Kerry. I have been doing a fair bit of cycling this year (as I have had to stop running temporarily) so I was hoping that I would find the cycle easier than the last time I did it. It was a stunningly beautiful morning with blue skies and little breeze and I was immediately enjoying my ride. Starting at sea level the route starts with a gentle climb with stunning scenery to distract and enthrall. Thhee pull up to the Ballaghbeama Gap is hard going and I needed to stand on the pedals so as to keep going but I eventually made the narrow gap and of course the reward of a long swift descent in amazing surroundings was ample recompense Crossing the boggy plain towards Ballaghisheen is another highlight as is the wonderful descent from Coumakishta. All in all the route is just over 59miles and has over 1100mtrs of climbing and it took me just under four hours. Thankfully my extra biking had paid dividends and while I was tired I wasn't too bad and I actually enjoyed all the route.

Back in the apartment before noon and after a nice bite of lunch we headed for the delightful Derrynane where we strolled around the gardens and walked to the stunning beach. There were a good few people enjoying the warm sunny day and when I ventured in for a paddle I was pleasantly surprised to find that the water was actually not too cold. Poor Ruby tried her best to follow me in but as soon as the water got a bit too deep for her to walk she wouldn't venture any further and it was really funny to see her almost bobbing on the spot near me. We had a lovely time and when we returned to Sneem we went for an excellent feed in the very busy O'Sheas pub where lots of people went away disappointed that they couldn't get a table.

On Tuesday I got up early and headed off before 7am to climb Mullaghanattin via "The Pocket". Alas the wonderful weather of yesterday was gone and very low cloud and mist obscured all views. I opted to do the round clockwise today as this gives a nice gentle start before it rises to reach the shoulder of the spur that rises to Beann South Top. With nothing in the way of views to distract me I just put the head down and plodded on to the main ridge of Beann where a window in the cloud briefly allowed a glimpse down to Cloon Lake. Next up is the long slog to the summit of Mullaghanattin itself and at 773mtrs is the highest point of the day. Still no views so I trundled on down to the long undulating broad ridge and once over the boggy top of An Cnoc Riabach I  dropped steeply to the valley and only re-emerged under the cloud a mere 200mtrs above the road. It had taken just 3hours 45 minutes to complete the 14kilometres and approx 1000mtrs of ascent. A lovely relaxing family afternoon ensued where cakes, ice cream and good food followed😀.

Not a lot to see today
Cloon Lake through the mist
It was a brighter day on Wednesday and I decided to go for another bike ride. Not as big as Monday but decent none the less. I rode to Kenmare which was great as I had the stiff wind at my back and once in the town I turned and rode the six mile drag to Molls Gap. It is long and gradual but I was glad to finally crest it as by now the wind wasn't as friendly. The final stretch completes the triangle and I turned for Sneem. Now I was cycling directly into the wind which largely negated the benefits of going downhill. Still things were much better than when I reached the long pull to the final pass before dropping to the village. That was tough. I delighted in the final few miles back to the hotel and was delighted with my near 37mile outing. This area is a cyclist's paradise. To round off the day we went back to Derrynane that afternoon and I went for a swim in the pleasantly warm sea. There is little to compare with the wonderful sense of well-being that is felt after a saltwater dip. Except maybe for munching on a bit portion of banoffi pie afterwards. Feckit I'll be good this week 😊.

Finally on the weekend I headed back to the Reeks once more to have another hike to try and get my fitness up to speed for The Alps. I had hoped to do the full Hags Glen Horseshoe but the wind was quite high and there was plenty rain about so I opted to climb the North Spur of Cnoc an Cuillian and take things from there. It provides a steep route to the crest of the East Reeks and it is seldom enough you meet anyone here and today was no exception. It sort of promised to clear but then the rain arrived half way up and the cloud enveloped me (seems to be a pattern forming here) and it stayed down until my descent. The summit of Cnoc an Cuillian is one of my favourite places on these mountains but today there was little to see so I turned and headed for Carrauntoohil. My word but the ground from the Zig Zaggs as far as The Ladder is really terrible now and the few stones that have been thrown into the boggiest places are no longer adequate to protect the ground. Perhaps the guides and their groups should set aside a few minutes at each pass to place some more stones and so help to ease the problem they created. Anyway the slog to the roof of Ireland went quite well and I chose to rest here a while and have my lunch. It was a bleak place today and as I left I was quickly soaked by a heavy squall so I decided to drop down O'Sheas gully and so back to the car. Not as big a day as I had hoped but good fun none the less. My knees also felt as good as they have in a long time so perhaps the workouts with the Kettlebell are paying dividends. 😊
The route rises from left to right and then up into the cloud

Across the glen..Carrauntoohil in the mist

Always nice to re-emerge under the cloud to a view like this

The weather clearing up nicely..

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