Saturday, January 26, 2019

2019...Coomloughra and the Galtees...Keeping Buzy

It's been a funny old snow, little wind, very little rain and very little sun has given the past month a somewhat surreal feeling but I have been getting out and about. A new toy for Christmas arrived in the shape of a GPS watch and this has proved to be both interesting and informative as I continue my running efforts.

A Fine Galtees Round

On December 29th, after working all through Christmas I was determined to get in some fresh air so I headed to The Galtees. I arrived at Kings Yard at 10.30 and wasted no time in setting off. It was a mild morning with little wind and the cloud shrouded the hills to low levels. It felt great to be out. I set off up the track and entered the deep glen under Monabrack. After crossing the footbridge the steep 300 metre climb to the summit of Monabrack (630 metres). Despite oozing sweat, the breeze up here dispelled any notion of removing my jacket. I dropped down to the west into the deep glen under Knockaterrif (691mtrs) and climbed directly up through the rocky outcrops to the broad rather featureless top. No views means no delays and I turned and headed across the broken, peat hagged ground, until I reached the slopes of Lyracappul (825 mtrs). Up here I was on the main ridge and the breeze had turned to a wind. Mist scudded across the ridge that threatened to soak through my jacket (insulated not rainproof). It is always a pleasure to walk this section of the ridge and when the weather allows the views from here are tremendous. The ground sweeps steeply to the north until the fertile agricultural plain 2000 foot below and on a clear day the sea on the southern coast can be seen as well as planes landing at Shannon. Not today of course  but it was still super invigorating. One of the joys of hiking in the Galtees it the relative solitude you can find there. When you explore the glens and tops to the south, chances are that you will have them to yourself. Even while on the main tops you won't meet many and Galtymor (918mtrs) itself is seldom very busy. I followed the wall around and up the easy slopes towards Galtymor and before long I was on the top. I had it to myself but with the wind strong and no views I continued on to my final top Galtybeg. I returned towards via the Black Road initially before dropping to that magic little spot where you cross the Attychran River and you can return to the car. Normally I take the forest road back but today I decided to head towards some old farmstead ruins and return through them. The first one I came to was a magic ruin, surrounded and shaded by huge Beech trees and all the rocks and stones were completely covered in moss. It was a beautiful and poignant reminder of tougher times past. It was my first time there and was a delightful end to the outing. I arrived back at the car at 15.30. This outing had covered 19 kilometres and climbed nearly 1300metres. Just the ticket👍.
A wee bit magical

Coomloughra Horseshoe.

On December 31st I headed back to Kerry and once again opted for the Coomloughra Horseshoe. Light winds, dry weather and cloud shrouding the tops greeted me when I arrived. I wasn't too bothered about views though. Today was all about getting out and catching the maximum amount of light in these shortest of days. As is usual for me more often than not, when I arrived at the unseasonably shrunken lake at the end of the Hydro Road I turned left and headed for Skregmore first. This gets the steepest of the climbing done first and certainly keeps any chill at bay as you rise. Upon reaching the ridge the wind had increased considerably and it was necessary to don a jacket. Now I was in the cloud and views were restricted to fleeting glimpses down the steep western side. Next up comes the slog to the main summit and this always seems to go on for longer than expected. It was definitely preferable to keep moving now as, despite the relative mildness in temperatures, the wind and damp cloud made it feel quite chilly. Easier going for a while now until you pass above Coumengeeragh Gully when you reach the pull to the top of Benkeeragh. For some reason I never really mind this climb and soon I was relaxing and enjoying a solitary bite to eat on top.

Even with the tops obscured (or because of it) it is always an inspiring sight
I was delighted to be out and very pleased with how I was moving. I dropped down the western side of the crest and followed the airy ridge towards Carrauntoohil. The stiff gusts of wind made me leave the crest at the narrow  "crux" and I followed the track on the left from here until I reached the top of O'Sheas Gully. Again I never mind too much the climb to the summit  of  Carrauntoohil and I soon found myself on the bleak summit. As is usual there was a few milling about so I exited immediately and headed easily towards Caher. This section is lovely, with a nice bite of a drop to the right that is rich with possibilities. I met a group coming towards me here who I had seen heading towards Caher when I was back at the top of the Hydro Road. Their progress had been pretty sedentary to say the least. Caher's airy crest is always a delight and I was even treated to some views. The main reason I choose to do this route in this direction is the ease of the descent. Initially a little steep, it soon eases and offers a gradual easy drop along the long spur until you turn and crossed the wet ground to once again reach the Hydro Road. I arrived back well satisfied with the day and once again it had taken 4 hours 20 mins. I might try running it soon.
Magic when the clouds briefly shift off Caher's ridge

The Galtees Again..the merest sniff of winter

On January 17th I headed off to The Galtees once again and this time I had the added bonus of the company of Connie Looney. Time flies and it was 11 months since our last excursion when we enjoyed a beautiful winter outing on The Reeks.

No such winter conditions today but the dreary overcast weather had lifted and a short chilly snap meant we had some blue skies and frozen ground. Con seldom gets to visit the Galtees and as he had never been to Kings Yard we decided to do a round from there. Basically we did the round I did a few weeks earlier but left out the climb to Knockaterriff. It was lovely to enjoy his company and the time flew. His enjoyment of the landscape was infectious. Dawsons Table had a dusting of icy snow and it felt like proper winter while we had our lunch on Galtymor's summit. Instead of dropping down the Black Road we instead followed the Attychran River down to the confluence of streams and returned to the car via the old ruins. It was lovely to have Cons company today and hopefully we will get out again soon.

What a dude 

As close to proper winter conditions so far this year.

In between (and since) I have been keeping busy and the running is going well. Since Christmas, as well as frequent 7 to 10 kilometre runs I have thrown in a few up to 24 kilometres. I have "run" Galtymor via the Black Road and the Claragh Loop was delightful. I have entered the Burren Marathon in Ballyvaughan at the end of May so fingers crossed that all keeps going well. It's great to be injury free.