Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Clydagh Valley Horseshoe in The Galtees on Stephens Day

Grand day for it
It's official....I'm a pig. Turkey-ham-trifle-sweeties-biscuits-drink,,,oh dear, and that's just yesterday. I have been eating voraciously all sorts of rubbish of late and unfortunately it's showing. My normally "robust" physique is quickly turning to rotund therefore a day out on the hills was badly needed. With that in mind I got up pre-dawn and headed for the Galty Mountains and en-route I decided to do the Clydagh Valley Horseshoe. This offers a nice outing of around 13 kilometres and approx 1000mtrs of ascent.
It was a pleasant morning with clear skies and a light chill breeze and the temperature hovered at around the two degree mark as I drove down. I was delighted to see that a nice dusting of snow covered the hills above the 600mtr contour and I found myself really looking forward to getting out. I left the car at 09.40 and walked up the road as far as the stile that allowed access to the open mountain. I had decided to do the walk in a clockwise direction as this means that a nice easy descent from Slievecushnabinnea ends the outing, always a plus in my book. The flu/cold/chest infection is still clinging on a little and I was huffing and puffing a bit as I climbed up the shoulder of Cush but I was able to maintain a decent pace and I was soon enjoying the splendid views of the range that are to be had from this summit. I was now also in the first of the snow and the breeze had become a wind here so it definitely felt like proper winter. It was great. I descended to the col under Galtybeg and faced into the long slog to the summit. This climb really has little to recommend it except for the improving views that are to be had, especially over Lough Borhee and towards Greenane. As I got high on the slopes of Galtybeg there was some icy patches of snow around and if it had been a little colder then crampons might not have been a bad idea. As it was progress was straightforward and I was soon on the pleasingly narrow summit crest.
Climbing Galtybeg with the Knockmealdowns in the distance

Wisps of cloud appear on Galtymore

A wintry Galtymore summit
It was now clear that the bad weather that was forecast was soon to arrive so I pressed on towards Galtymore. Once down at the col there was again considerable evidence of icy stretches where the snow had melted and refroze and as I rose up the slopes above the cliffs over Lough Diheen some care was required. I was okay in my good mountain boots but a couple of people on the way down were finding the going a little tougher. As I got high on the slopes of Galtymore the first snow arrived but it wasn't too bad and visibility remained reasonable. I crossed a wintry Dawsons Table and dropped down to the broad boggy plateau above Lough Curra. Now the wind that had been coming from my left suddenly switched and was coming into me from the right. It is strange sometimes how the wind reacts to mountain terrain. I continued onto Slievecushnabinnea and descended easily the heathery slopes. Soon I was back in the forestry and hotfooting it back in the light rain to the car. I arrived back at 13.05 so it had taken not too much over three hours. A nice warming cup of coffee and a turkey sandwich (what else :) ) set me up for the drive home. More snow please...
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