Starting a 28km hike across The MaumTurks mountain range at 5.15 in the morning while looking into the blackness of the early morning seemed like a good idea at the time but as the day wore on i think we as a group were questioning our sanity. Looking back down from the slopes of Corcogemore at the 200 + head torches we soon realised we were not the only crazy hikers out on the hills. From Corcogemore it was onto Mullach Glas, Binn Mhor and down to The Chapel and Patrick’s Well for a well earned rest and a chance to refuel. By now the sun had burned off the early morning fog and mist, and from here on in it was only going to get hotter. The banter on any mountain challenge is always first rate but on The MaumTurks Challenge it's almost like every on the mountain wants you to do well and finish the challenge which gives you the push when needed to get up those parts of the mountain that would normally have you running back to your car. From the Holy Well it onto Binn Chaonaigh, Barrslievenaroy, Knocknahillion, Letterbreckaun, Maamturkmore, then it's down to the now legendary "Col of Despondency" where its time to decide if you have what it takes to get up this fairly "easy looking hill on any other given day"but when you are already at your limit this hike up Leenane Hill can seem like the gods have conspired and changed the gradient to something you would find high in the Alps. But get up it you do with words of encouragement from your group and fellow hikers. Once up on Leenane Hill it seems like the all those moments of pain and self doubt evaporate like the early morning fog and mist. From here it's a slow and steady climb on weak legs down past the Old Deserted Village, across the river and into Leenaun where it's time to meet old friends and collect that well earned cert and all the questions that come at the end of such a magic day, "will we do it again next year, how did you find it, did you better last year's time?" all questions for another day perhaps. Full credit to Declan Rambsbottom and Theresa Watkins for having the courage and self belief to take on this epic challenge and complete it with smiles on their faces. Well done to NUIG Mountaineering for once again putting on such a great day and making sure that everyone got up and down safely. The only negative with this years challenge was the registration process which sold out in 3 minutes and which allowed one walking club to take 50 places of the 200 on offer. Hopefully this will be sorted for next year.
With a major climb of Carauntouhill and The Coomloughra HorseShoe cancelled over the weekend due to a poor weather forecast, it was to the East coast where we headed to avoid the wind and snow that was hitting the West of Ireland. Arriving at the visitor center carpark at Glendalough it soon became apparent that we had made the right decision. The sun was out, a light breeze and off we went heading along the valley floor, turning left up by the Poulanass Waterfall, turning right at the bridge over the Poulanass River and soon entering the mature forestry on your right. This is where the real hard climb begins, along a Railway Sleeper BoardWalk you gain height quickly to emerge above The Upper and Lower Glendalough Lakes. The views from this point and indeed for the rest of the hike are simply stunning and you should take time to take in the views across to Camaderry, Tonlagee and Brockagh and on towards the Miners Village. Keep an eye out for the herds of Deer that roam these slopes and can often be found very close to the BoardWalk path. From here it's onto Spinc Mountain before heading down to the wooden bridge that crosses the river and descend down to The Miners Village where evidence can be seen of the mining done here. Mining in Glendalough dates back to the 1790’s where lead, zinc and silver were mined both in the Glendalough Valley and the next adjacent Valley, Glendasan. Mining in this area took place for over 150 years and at the peak of production 2,000 miners were employed. Mining continued up until 1957. From here it's an easy walk back along the valley floor keeping an eye out for Saint Kevins Bed across the Upper Lake on the opposite bank. It's here that St Kevin stayed as a hermit for seven years. Kevin soon became known as a holy man and others came to Glendalough to seek his advice, to be healed and to follow his way of life. Gradually, small monastic communities were established, including a walled settlement near the lakeshore now called Reefert Church.
Kevin’s fame as a teacher and holy man spread far and wide. Over time, the monastic settlement at Glendalough grew to become one of the great spiritual centres of Christianity in Ireland, flourishing for a thousand years after St. Kevin’s death. Very soon you will find yourself back from where you started passing through the Monastery founded by St Kevin. If you have some more time to spare you could do worse than sit awhile and enjoy the solitude this magical part of Ireland has to offer. Cathal @ClimbIreland
An old buddy of mine had asked me a few months ago to take him up Carrauntouhill the next time i was there but the problem was that every time i headed up it was always with a paying group. So last week i contacted him and with the weather looking promising we struck out from Lisleibane carpark at 10am we headed up the Hag's Glen, up onto the first level, next we stopped for a brief break at the emergency shelter. From there we took the steep path up to the gap at the Heavenly Gates where we were treated to superb views across the Eastern Reeks, The Zig Zag's and down The Hag's Glen. From there it was on towards the head of The Devil's Ladder before turning Right and taking the well worn path to the summit. The cloud had thankfully stayed away which gave us a 360 degree view as far as the eye could see. The wind had been with us on and off during the day but at the summit it was blowing at possibly minus 5 or 6. With some food and a change of clothing we said farewell to the other hikers on the summit and headed down towards the top of the Devils Ladder for the 20 minute climb to the start of The Zig Zag's. From here it was an easy decent to the valley floor and the long walk back to the car park. Another very enjoyable day with great company. Cathal @ClimbIreland
Carrauntouhill via Central Gully.
February 28 at 9:21pmYesterday the 27th of Feb we were on the Galtys enjoying what little snow was about while being all too aware how quickly it comes and goes. Today we headed to Carrauntouhill and Central Gully in the hope that Ireland's highest mountain might have a bit more snow on its flanks to have some fun. Leaving Lisleibane carpark at 10am we headed up the Hag's Glen, up onto the first level, up onto the second level where we stopped for a brief break, to gear up with Crampons, Ice Axe and to marvel at the surrounding peaks and count ourselves lucky to have this playground in such a fantastic part of the country. With the safety briefing out of the way we headed to the mouth of Central Gully, leaving the tracks in the snow made by the previous climber heading to Curved gully on the left. From here on in we were on virgin snow which made for hard going but with the clouds drifting in and out with spots of hail and light rain we soon found ourselves at the exit of Central gully. The last few meters were even more hard going with lots of compact ice, but with our Crampons and Ice Axe we were soon taking a left and soon the cross came into view. After a quick snack and clothing change we were soon heading down towards the top of The Devil's Ladder where we removed the Crampons and slowly made our way down to the valley floor and the long hike back to the car. Well done to Theresa Watkins for making the day enjoyable and for her willingness to learn some new skills. Onwards and upwards to the next challenge. Cathal Climb Ireland
Watching the weather all weekend hoping for a break so we could take the long drive to Carrauntouhill and possibly get our feet into some snow, but alas it was not to be. Instead we headed to The Galtys with a forecast for snow showers. We set off from Kings Yard at approx 8.45 am and headed for PigeonRock Glen, turning right towards The BlackRock river, hiking slowly up the valley under Knockaterriff, Carrigeen and on up onto Lyracappul for a well earned rest and a snack. From there the cloud would drift in and out offering us fleeting glances of the fertile green pastures in the Glen of Aherlow. Then onto Carraignabinnia, taking is some of Slievecushnabinnia and finally onto Galty Mor for another well earned rest and some more fuel for the legs, it was then time to start the long walk down Knockduff, Knocknagalty and back to Kings yard for the tea and sandwiches kindly supplied by Theresa Watkins. This was a 5 hour, 16km hike across a beautiful part of Ireland and i would encourage any of you thinking of a hike over the coming months to give this magical part of Tipperary a closer look. Cathal Climb Ireland
The Roscrea Trail Blazers walking club will be having a day out to Inishmaan, the middle island of the Aran Islands on Saturday June 18th. The views from the top of Conor's Fort are breathtaking. There are two notable stone forts on the island. Dún Chonchúir (Conor's Fort) is an ancient oval stone fort, dating to pre-Christian times, with views of the island's other ancient sites and the sea. And the stone fort Dún Fearbhaí, which dates from the 4th century A.D. and is unusual in being almost rectangular - instead of circular as the other fort on the island.
Clochán na Carraige is a beehive hut, the structure of which is unusual because the outside is circular but the inside is rectangular.
Synge's Cottage and Chair
Synge's CottageTeach Synge is the house where John Millington Synge stayed on the island every summer from 1898 to 1902, where he was hosted by Bríd and Páidín Mac Donnchadha. It was here he is said to have got inspiration for his plays The Playboy of the Western World, Riders to the Sea, and many of his other works from stories he heard while on Inishmaan. The house he stayed in, Teach Synge, was inhabited by descendants of the Mac Donnchadha family until the 1970s, when it began to fall into disrepair. It has been restored to its original condition, and has been open to the public since August 1999.
Cathaoir Synge (Synge's Chair) was the writer's favourite place on the island, overlooking Inishmore and the Atlantic.
If you would like to climb Slievenamon, you can join us on Sunday March 13th. just drop me a line to secure your seat on the bus.
ClimbIreland, Getting you above 3000 MTS