Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Exploring the Eastern Knockmealdowns with Kevin. A Great Start To The New Year

January 1st 2018
With a new year beginning and having set new resolutions to eat better, exercise more and give up my many indulgences, one thing I don't plan to do without is having outings with the force of nature that is Kevin Ring. It had been too long since our last jaunt so it was great to catch up with him today and have the chance to get a good workout and some great conversation. We decided to use the two cars and do a linear route on the Knockmealdowns. The last time I was on this range was with Kevin about three years ago when we went for a hill run and I welcomed the chance to explore the range a little more. With that in mind we left one car at the carpark at the Glentaunemon Gap and we drove to Glentaunatinagh Bridge on the east side of Knocknafallia. In the spirit of exploration we decided to cross the road and climb Knocknanask (486mtrs) first and do a mini loop on that side of the road before crossing back and climbing Knockmeal (560mtrs). Once again it was something of a shock to re-discover the speed Kevin glides up a hill and some adjustments had to be made but we settled into a good routine and found a middle ground. The ground underfoot isn't as soft as the Galtees hereabouts and the heather is cropped short so it was a pleasure to be on. The wind was chill and strong and squalls were in the offing but for now we were able to enjoy nice views across the hills and onto the Comeraghs and the grey sea. Once on the first top I decided to jog the next downhill section and it felt great.
Yes I made it over the gate..too much sugar

We made short work of the eastern section before we crossed the road and set off up Knockmeal. A metaled roadway led easily up the hillside until we had to leave it and set off up directly for the summit through steep ground and long heather. Thankfully this was a fairly short section and we were soon on the easier ground on top. The ground may have been easier but the wind certainly wasn't and we were being buffeted sideways as we crossed towards Knocknafallia (668mtrs). Once on top we took shelter in the summit cairn and Kevin enjoyed a late breakfast/early lunch before we ran the next section again to the slopes below Knocknagnauv. Up again and another run to the base of the long slog to the summit of Knockmealdown itself which at 794mtrs is the highest in the range. A vicious shower of hail put paid to any conversation and our heads were kept bowed in an effort to avoid the icy missiles. Thankfully the squall passed before the summit and easier progress was enjoyed. The wind which had been hitting us from our right thus far now came straight from the left and made running the next section very tricky for my knee so I opted to walk instead. Sugarloaf was our final top before the steep drop back to the waiting car. It was further away than I had remembered and as we headed towards it we reminisced about the last time we were here when we ran from near Araglin all the way to Knockmealdown and back again ( https://howlingmist.blogspot.ie/2012/08/the-knockmealdown-mountains-run.html ).

Surprisingly expansive

Happy new year
On the way to Sugarloaf I had to have lunch and it was a short jaunt to the summit after that. We made quick work of the track to the roadway and our car and we arrived four hours after we had started. Not as herculean an effort as the run in 2012 but at around 14 kilometres and over 1100mtrs of ascent it was a decent effort as well. It gave up plenty of time to go for a coffee so we drove back to collect the other one and we set off back to Lismore where more chat was washed down by coffees and sweeties. Here's hoping that we have many more outings both long and short in the future..A great start to 2018.
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