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Routes! Castle Ward, Western Ox Mountains, Dublin Mountain Way, Mount Eagle...

ALONE!

5 Days On a Scottish Island

Become A Mountain Leader

Curlew Call Why do we hunt our vanishing wildlife?

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Pace yourself Judging speed and distance

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Moll's Gap, Co Kerry

Loneliness of the Long-Distance Walker Language... has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone. “ Paul Johannes Tillich Everyone has their own balance point between loneliness and solitude. For some it’s on the way home from a party; for others it comes only after days without human contact. The idea of being ‘alone in the wilderness’ has inspired and challenged romantics, adventurers and city-dwellers alike for centuries. Most of us, however much we may savour the idea, have a limited appetite for solitude. But everyone is different, and Tom Hutton’s exploration of his own frontiers (page 38) while camping solo on the Isle of Rum is thought-provoking. As far as I can remember, I’ve never spent a single day entirely alone. Controlled solitude is something we’re lucky to have within easy reach here in Ireland. I’m not always sure it’s a good thing, but the fact is, it’s still possible to tackle one of the classic long-distance walks here without encountering a single human all day. Do it midweek or in winter and solitude is virtually guaranteed. This despite the fast-growing popularity of mountain sports in general and hillwalking in particular. With a population density just over a quarter of Great Britain’s, Ireland’s mountains can be your very own personal oyster if that’s your bag. Still on a contemplative note; as walkers we pride ourselves on giving due appreciation to landscape and environment. Yet as Michael Fewer suggests (p14), we are often, ironically, in too much of a hurry to really take in the beauty and wealth of our surroundings. In my case, that’s sometimes due to the struggle to keep up with faster, fitter companions. But I’m also guilty of being excessively ‘target-oriented’; which is to say, keen to finish and prone to over-ambitious route planning. I really must learn to smell the flowers. Or get fitter.

Publisher: Conor O'Hagan Consultant Editor: Martin Joyce Advertisement Manager: Roger Cole. Tel: +353 (1)285 9111. Email: sales@walkingworldireland.com Skype: silchester52 Design: Gwyn Parry Technical Consultant: Andy Callan Environmental Consultant: Dick Warner Maps: EastWest Mapping Contributors: Judy Armstrong, Gavin Bate, Andy Callan, Zoe Devlin, Helen Fairbairn, Michael Fewer, Denis Gill, Adrian Hendroff, Tom Hutton, Gareth McCormack, Dick Warner Photographers: Judy Armstrong, Gavin Bate, Eoin Clarke, Adrian Hendroff, Tom Hutton, Gareth McCormack, Richard Mills Published by: Athletic Promotions Limited, ‘Edelweiss’, Cushina, Portarlington, Co Laois. Tel: +353 (0)5786 45343 Email: walkingworldirl@iol.ie ISSN No. 0791-8801

Cover Photo courtesy of Sprayway

Editor

Walking World Ireland is always pleased to receive articles, but publication cannot be guaranteed. The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited articles or photos/slides submitted. Unsolicited articles will be returned only if accompanied by return postage. Guidelines regarding articles and photos are available for potential contributors on receipt of return postage. All photos/slides must bear the name of the sender on each photo/slide. Captions should accompany them. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the express permission of the editor or publishers, and even if such permission is given, the source must be acknowledged when used. This also applies to advertising originated by the publishers. Whilst every care has been taken to describe the routes and terrain accurately, the publishers and contributors accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained as a result of using this magazine. Mapping based on Ordnance Survey Ireland by permission of the Government. © Government of Ireland Permit No 7208.


Contents

Issue 104, October/November 2011

38

On The Cover 38 Alone!

Tom Hutton seeks solitude on the Hebridean Island of Rum

32

Valleys, Glens, Coums & Cauldrons

Paul Tempan explores the wealth of names for the lands below Ireland’s peaks

Walks 16

Leinster: Killakee to Tallaght

Denis Gill concludes his exploration of The Dublin Mountains Way

20 Connacht:

The Western Ox Mountains

24

Munster: Mount Eagle

Helen Fairbarn is pleasantly surprised by the scenic variety at the western tip of the Ox

36

Tom Hutton enjoys breathtaking views from the western tip of Ireland

28 Ulster: Castle Ward

Gareth McCormack checks out a brand new walking trail around this beautiful estate on the shore of Strangford Lough

Loop Walks 54 Sliabh Greine, Co. Kilkenny 55 Slieve Foye, Co Louth 56 Aylmer, Co. Kildare 57 Inishowen Head, Co. Donegal 58 Children of Lir, Co. Mayo 59 Errinagh Bridge, Co. Clare 46

Top Trails: Hadrian’s Wall

135km of coast-to-coast scenery and history.

Skills 60

Timing and Pacing

Part Four of our series on navigation skills looks at how long it takes from A-B.

Gear 48

Softshell - A Tale of Two Walks

Is softshell worth it? Andy Callan learned the hard way.

46

32


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Regulars 8 News

A sprinkling of events, announcements, people and places from around the walking world

14

By The Way

Michael Fewer urges us to stop, sit, look and listen

36

Nature - Curlew in Crisis

44

Mountaineering Ireland

Vanishing, protected – and hunted in Ireland, the curlew is one of several anomalies in the list of legal targets. By Dick Warner

How the Mountain Leader award can enrich your hillwalking

42 Books

A clutch of recent walking publications reviewed

23

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31 Festivals Dates and reviews for the walking party animal

66 Crossword

by Zodrick

Eight pairs of Brasher Kiso or Kenai GTX boots to be won!

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NEWS Lynam Lecture 2011 Harish Kapadia Mountaineering Ireland has invited Harish Kapadia, the distinguished Himalayan mountaineer to deliver the 2011 Lynam Lecture. Harish is a well-known name in the field of climbing and trekking in India. His main contribution to Himalayan climbing has been to explore unknown areas and, in a number of cases, to open up climbing possibilities in previously unknowen or restricted areas. He has led five international joint expeditions, four with British climbers and two with French, to high peaks, like Rimo (7385 m), Chong Kumdan I (7071 m), Sudarshan Parbat, Panch Chuli and Rangrik Rang groups. In 1974, Harish fell in a crevasse at 6200 m, deep inside the formidable Nanda Devi Sanctuary. He was carried by his companions for 13 days to the base camp where a helicopter rescued him. He was operated on for a dislocated hip-joint and had to spend two years walking on crutches. He has published twelve books. His Trek The Sahyadrishas is the standard reference for all trekkers in the Western Ghats. His other books, Exploring the Hidden Himalaya (with Soli Mehta) and High Himalaya Unknown Valleys and Meeting The Mountains cover his various trips to the Himalaya, while Spiti Adventures in the Trans-Himalaya, cover climbing and trekking in that region. He has been the editor of the prestigious Himalayan Journal for the past 28 years, bringing the journal to international standards and continuing it as a major authentic reference on the range. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Alpine Club and was a Vice President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (1997-1999). He was awarded the IMF Gold Medal in 1993 and, in 2003, the Patron’s Medal of the Royal Geographic Society. MI members can avail of a 50% discount on ticket prices. The discount code is available when you email your name and MI membership number to lectures@mountaineering.ie. The “Lynam Lecture” is aimed at continuing the legacy of Joss Lynam (1924 - 2011), in recognition of his enormous contribution to mountaineering, walking and outdoor adventure activities in Ireland over some 60 years. He was the initiator of numerous developments in these areas, the strong advocate for a number of generations of Irish mountaineers and the representative of Irish mountaineering on a world stage through his involvement with the UIAA.

Meitheal in the Maine North Woods Eight Volunteers from Mountain Meitheal spent a week building a trail and remote primitive campsite in the North Maine Woods. Meitheal worked with the Appalachian Mountain Club to build approximately 900m of new trail on AMC land near Greenville. Mountain Meitheal is a group of volunteers, people drawn from a wide range of outdoor backgrounds, who undertake hands on trail projects on our mountains and in our forests with the aim of protecting the environment and promoting sustainable outdoor recreation into the future. See www.pathsavers.org

The Vandeleur-Lynam List The late Joss Lynam, and Rev. C.P. Vandeleur compiled a list of Irish 2000 foot mountains. There were 257 peaks in all, but these were further subdivided into “Separate mountains” and “Subsidiary Peaks”. Of the former, there were 156, spread reasonably fairly between Leinster, Ulster, and Connaught, with Munster having a somewhat bigger share! As a tribute to Joss, Mountaineering Ireland has decided to publish a guide to these peaks, and ask MI members and clubs, having unequalled local knowledge of the terrain, to contribute suggested quality, access problem-free routes. It is hoped the publication will be along the lines of the very successful Scottish “Munro and “Corbett” guides, with a high quality photo, map, and factual description of the route. All completed entries will be stored on the MI site, and selected contributions published in the Irish Mountain Log. The list is arranged by province, range, and height within the range. Whilst the original Vandaleur-Lynam list was in feet, anomalies have occurred between the original imperial measurements, and recent more accurate altitude in metres, so metres have been used. There may be one or two other peaks deserving of inclusion as “Separates” but it has been decided to run with Joss’s original selection in this first edition. See www.mountaineeringireland.ie


53 Degrees North Launches Cork Branch Dublin-based outdoor retailer 53 Degrees North has opened its first branch outside the capital. “We are delighted to announce that our brand new store is now open in the Cornmarket Centre, Paul St, Cork,” said a spokesman for the chain. “We have moved into a stunning 6,000 square foot store bang in the middle of Cork City Centre. “Our unique building is charming and an absolute joy to shop in. The floor to ceiling windows and arched roof

upstairs are a must see. Of course we have given this beautiful old building a subtle modern finish whilst keeping all of the original features. “It goes without saying that this new store in packed full of the top outdoor adventure brands in the world. We have it all covered from hiking, walking and camping to running, skiing and climbing from the world’s leading brands like The North Face, Berghaus, Columbia, Icebreaker, O’Neill, Animal, Brasher, Lowa, Scarpa plus many more brands. Our expert staff are always at hand to answer any of your questions. Our price promise guarantees that we have the best prices in Cork.” BInt-WWI 210x135_Layout 1 26/04/2011 8:47 am Page 1

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NEWS Wicklow Mountains Moonlight Challenge By Denis Gill …the sight of so many headtorches forming a procession below the eastern flank of Djouce Mountain against the backdrop of the city lights in the silence of a crisp clear November night was truly awesome.  The fact that so many good humoured walkers would venture out on a winter’s night to make a contribution to the common good was enough to warm the cockles of this walker’s heart… Such were the thoughts of only one of the 300 walkers who took part in the Inaugural 26km Moonlight Challenge fund raiser for the Glen of Imaal Red Cross Mountain Rescue Team in November 2010 and happily the Challenge was an enormous success…it raised a staggering Ä35,000 towards the building of the new Mountain Rescue Base at Trooperstown in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.  The Moonlight Challenge was one of the biggest events ever undertaken by the Glen of Imaal Red Cross Mountain Rescue Team and presented innumerable logistical problems for the organising team, who cheerfully adapted as their motto the old adage ‘Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!’ This resulted in the most pleasant of surprises of the challenge, when the team discovered that the level of preparation amongst the participating walkers exceeded all expectations! Naturally, when an event that involves 300 people travelling through the wilds of the Wicklow Mountains in the darkness of a bitter November night, a long list of possible difficulties quickly emerge… Would the teams bring the right footwear, clothing, torches, safety gear, etc, etc, etc? Murphy’s Law being Murphy’s Law… surely something catastrophic would go wrong and when it did, where would the dreaded Murphy strike? How can we avoid disaster happening? Do we have enough helpers and marshals? Do we have enough parking and toilets? Do we have enough refreshments to feed and invigorate all those hungry walkers? What happens if there was to be an actual mountain rescue call-out on the night? On and on, the possible problems mounted and on and on the organisers redoubled their efforts to deal with them, painstakingly one by one. The smooth running of the event on the night is a testament of their efforts to ensure that the Moonlight Challenge was a positive, safe and enjoyable experience for all those involved. ...there was a slight breeze from the west as we crested White Hill, visibility was poor and beautiful Lough Tay lay hidden in a deep abyss below the crags of Fancy Mountain, we were making good time along the board walk , passing the J.B. Malone Memorial before reaching the Military Road and entering the forest above Ballinrush. As the trees closed about us, we lost sight of the comforting glow of head torches both ahead and behind,

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somewhere nearby a deer coughed a warning, there were unseen creatures moving in the trees, the hairs on our necks rose in unison as some primeval fear quickened our pace to climb Ballinafunshoge Hill to be reassured by moonlight glistening on the peaceful waters of Lough Dan… The Moonlight Challenge teams comprised of anything up to six people… there were the ‘Dodgy knees’, ‘Lost Girls’, ‘Happy Penguins’, ‘Roving Soles’ ‘Wild Wicklow Walkers’ and many more. There were solo runners, solo walkers, teams of postal workers and teams from the Defence Forces, students, actuaries, bankers, roofers and nurses, participants from all ‘walks of life!’ (Please excuse the pun?) There were teams in their twenties and in their seventies, all with a common purpose, not just to finish the challenge but to raise funds for the building of the new Rescue Base. The atmosphere was only wonderful…everyone was buzzing. Teams couldn’t wait to get on the bus, get off the bus, check in at Crone Wood and hit the trail! The route looked like a candlelit daisy chain through the mountains, the effect being truly spectacular, with this beautiful surreal view visible for miles due to the weather conditions. To prove that the Gods and the organising team were on top form; when the drizzle began, teams came in at the finish saying… “How much they enjoyed the cooling effect of the rain!” …at midnight on Paddock Hill, through a break in the clouds a shooting star streaked across the northern sky and all too soon we were on the final descent to finish at the only partly completed Rescue Base to be warmly welcomed with hot soup, loads of bread and butter, beef stroganoff, tea and biscuits, a delightful finish to a wonderful and hugely enjoyable night walk…

Moonlight Challenge 2011 The success of the 2010 Moonlight Challenge and the extremely positive feedback from the participating walkers means that… The 2011 Moonlight Challenge is an absolute must, to be held on… Saturday 12th November 2011. Pre-registration is essential and can be done via the website at: www. wicklowmountainrescue.ie/moonlightchallenge or email to fog@wmr.ie The registration fee is €25 per person, and walkers should raise a minimum of €75 in sponsorship, €100 in total. All funds will go directly to the completion of the Mountain Rescue Base… Don’t just think about it…Sign Up Now!

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Dublin retailer Great Outdoors has announced a series of events and speakers for the autumn/winter. All events are FREE and designed to motivate and encourage people to strike out on their own adventures. The FREE lectures take place at the Chatham St, Dublin 2 store from 7pm. Tickets are free but booking is recommended at www.greatoutdoors.ie

25 October 2011

Helly Hansen polar guide Inge Solheim Helly Hansen polar guide Inge Solheim is famous for base-jumping off one of the lowest points ever attempted in Oslo, flying fighter jets in Russia and racing to the South Pole. This former pizza restaurateur and stockbroker from Norway, has also inspired others with his philosophies and eternal optimism. Solheim recently led the Walking with the Wounded expedition, which saw wounded soldiers including amputees trekking to the North Pole. Don’t miss him speak at Great Outdoors. Tickets are free but limited. Book early to avoid disappointment at www.greatoutdoors.ie  

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2 November 2011

Winter Mountaineering with Setanta Adventure Training If you say yay to cold and snowy Irish winters, come along to Great Outdoors’ talk which will tell you how can milk even more fun out of the frigid conditions. We’re talking about ice climbing, winter walking and winter mountaineering in Ireland – as well as trips to Scotland and the Alps. Dave Gaughran of Setanta Adventure Training will be passing on his extensive knowledge.  

concealed internal waist drawcord

9 November 2011

Greenland Mountaineering Expedition Five members of the Irish Mountaineering Club headed into the wilds of east Greenland’s Renland region last spring on a pioneering expedition. Their plan was to put up some first ascents in an area choked with massive mountaineering potential. Find out more on the night. Tickets are free but limited. Book early to avoid disappointment at www.greatoutdoors.ie

16 November 2011

Concern Uganda Tri Adventure Challenge Are you up for a challenge and do you want to try something completely new? If so, Concern’s Tri-Adventure Challenge might be just the ticket. Find out more about the event at Great Outdoors. The event will see participants summit Mt Elgon (Uganda’s highest mountain), cycle 220km on Uganda’s rural roads and kayak on the White Nile. To find out more, come along to this information evening. Tickets are free but limited. Book early to avoid disappointment at www.greatoutdoors.ie

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NEWS Great Outdoors to sponsor Art O’Neill Challenge 2011

The legendary Art O’Neill challenge is back in 2012 and is set to be better than ever with sponsorship from Great Outdoors, Dublin. Tracing the escape route that Art O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell took in 1592 when escaping Dublin Castle, the 55km night hike will leave the city centre at midnight. Participants will finish in Glenmalure well after sunrise. Organiser of the event Gearoid Towey is delighted that the event will go ahead again this year. “Last year we had 500 participants in this event. Watching that amount of people leave from Dublin Castle in snow at midnight was a spectacular sight. It is a totally unique event. This year I am excited to have the Great Outdoors on board as title sponsor, together we hope to make the event the biggest yet. People can take part for charity or simply as a personal goal for the new year” he said. This is a challenging event but both fast and slow hikers will be catered for. Guides will be on hand for those who are navigationally challenged or alternatively hikers are free to travel unguided. The route will include three rest and recoup zones where hikers can refuel with hot drinks and food. Transport will also be provided out of the Glenmalure Valley and back to civilisation for all the weary challengers. For more details visit www.artoneillchallenge.ie

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By The Way

L

ast week I met a man on the low summit of the Dublin Mountains called the Fairy Castle, who had run there from Ringsend in Dublin City. As the crow flies, this is a distance of 12 kilometres with a climb of 530 metres. We chatted a while and he told me he had, just a couple of weeks before, walked and run a 160 kilometre circuit of Mont Blanc in 42 hours. He drank some water while we talked, and then got up and started his run back to Ringsend. I sat there, amazed at his drive, energy and fitness. The area around Mont Blanc is one of the most spectacularly scenic places in Europe, and while his body might have rejoiced at his marathon, I could not see how his soul could have absorbed any of the wonders of the landscape. For those who want to experience countryside and all it offers, walking is the best way to travel, but even at walking pace many valuable subtleties of the surroundings far and near can be missed. Walking with some friends in the hill country north of Mount Etna in Sicily last summer, I got ahead of my companions. We had been walking for two or three hours and the surroundings were inspiring, but we hadn’t paused for more than a minute or two along the way, so I stopped and sat on a large flattopped stone beside the narrow path to await my friends. As I sat, the sounds of my progress, the crunching of my boots in the gravel of the path and the clinking of my camera against my rucksack harness, ceased, and there was silence. I gazed across the Sicilian landscape to the snow-capped Mount Etna on the horizon, and then layer by layer back across the valleys and hills right up to the carpet of herbs and wildflowers that covered the ground all round. Sitting still and relaxed, I saw details, colours and textures that I had missed completely while walking. With careful observation I could trace the medieval plan of a far-away village and, turning my attention to the nearby, I watched a colourful beetle struggling his way up a flower stalk beside me, harried by ants all the way, and I lazily counted the varieties of herbs and grasses around me, which came to a surprising 22. What I first thought was a silence around me had its own layers of sound, including the buzzing of foraging bumblebees, the repeated calls of birds in the thickets below me and the almost inaudible soughing of a light breeze in the three-metre-tall fennel plants scattered over the hillside. I had appreciated almost none of these delights as I walked: vigorous progress is fine, but stopping, sitting, looking and listening allowed me to harvest added value for my walk. The poet Byron knew this, and wrote of the necessity:

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Stop, Sit, Look & Listen As walkers we see more than most; but there is still much missed, says Michael Fewer


To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell, To slowly trace the forest’s shady scene… No landscape can reward stopping and sitting a while more than our own Burren. An Irish writer who is an enthusiastic walker but who long ago discovered the need to be still is Paul Clements, whose latest book, ‘Burren Country: Travels through an Irish limestone landscape’ draws even more wonderments from that inspiring place. Paul has had what can only be called a love affair with the Burren, its limestone, plants, people, pubs, and music for many years, but while his canvas is broad and farreaching, he is also an explorer of the wilderness of the nearby, as these few lines describing a picnic lunch show: As I munch my way through a fat brie and bacon sandwich, I count ten snails surrounding my boots. Some flies hover, attracted by the smell of my soup, but quickly disappear. Several wasps fidget, and bees cruise by. There is no wind. A spider dances over my map that is lying open on the grass beside me. A fly lands on Kilnaboy. His description of all the tiny, usually un-noticed elements that surround us when we are in the countryside strongly draws one into his narrative: you are there, you can hear the bees, and you can just about smell the perfumes of the flowers! Like

that true student and devotee of nature, the writer Robert Macfarlane, Paul does not dwell on summertime glories alone. He makes it his business to also experience the Burren in winter, and just as easily gleans beauty from the ‘dour unforgiving’ landscape in ‘bone-chilling January’. He finds inspiration in the changing quality of light in the sky over Corcomroe, the power of a Burren hailstorm, and the sun casting a ‘long, glossy, black sheen over the pavement…’ To read his book is to slow down to the pace of the Burren. It is inspiring encouragement to even the hillwalker in a hurry to stop now and again, to sit, to look and to listen. Burren Country: Travels through an Irish limestone landscape Paul Clements The Collins Press €12.99/£11.99 www.collinspress.ie

“A spider dances over my map that is lying open on the grass beside me. A fly lands on Kilnaboy.”

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Leinster

Dublin Mountains Way: Killakee to Tallaght

Denis Gill concludes his exploration of Ireland’s newest long-distance path. Photos by Eoin Clarke

Stone with inscription to H.C. Hart along The Dublin Mountain Way

C

ontinuing our exploration of The Dublin Mountain Way, Ireland’s newest and most ambitious long distance trail, following the ‘Yellow Walking Man’ symbol to explore countryside steeped in folklore and history on this third stage from Killakee to Tallaght, as we follow in the footsteps of a fabled Viking raiding party… …out of the early morning sea mist a Viking longboat emerged, the only sound was the gentle splash of its oars as the oarsmen pulled against the current. Standing at the ship’s prow was a Viking warrior, steadying himself he held onto the carved masthead, with his other hand he grasped the hilt of his sword, as he peered

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beneath the rim of his helmet into the mist he suddenly cried out, “Land Ohy!” It was in the late spring of 811 when the longboat gently beached below tall sedimentary cliffs near Shankill, sean chill, ‘old church’ An earlier expedition had returned from Ireland with tales of a great monastery founded by Saint Maelruain at Tallaght, and this raiding party had returned, intent on pillage and plunder. As the Vikings trekked inland they attacked the church at Rathmichael but the monks and local farmers defended their settlement from within its ringfort. The Vikings with greater spoils awaiting; pressed on and camped that night by a stream at the bottom of a great chasm, not knowing the monastic settlement of Killegar was on the heights above. As the Norsemen

trekked into the mountains, they laid waste to the undefended St. Tiernan Church and other small settlements they chanced upon. That night the raiders camped by a stream in a great oak forest overlooking the plain of Baile Atha Cliath and prepared for the following day’s assault on the monastery of Saint Maelruain at Tallaght.

Getting to the Start From Firhouse / Rathfarnham, take the R115 Stocking Lane to follow the Military Road to Killakee Car Park. GR: O 122.223 or alternatively check www.dublinmountains.ie for the timetable of the Dublin Mountaineer Bus Service. The route is based on a linear trek which requires a second car parked at Killakee or Tallaght.


Before leaving the car park, look northeast across a wonderful panorama of Dublin City and its Bay with Howth Peninsula and the Irish Sea beyond. Among European capital cities, Dublin is privileged in having both the mountains and the sea practically on its doorstep and from here at Killakee we can truly appreciate its good fortune! Follow the Military Road south to turn into a recently clear felled forest area that when reconnoitred was evocative Towards St.Ann e’s Burial Ground of a WWI battlefield and imposed a 2km detour Irishmen, on tarmac that one hopes will be purely while retreating from defeat at the temporary. battle of Clonard in Co. Meath to seek refuge Back on route by Annmount Spink with in the Wicklow Mountains, records in his its evidence of many prehistoric burial memoirs… “I then advanced to Piperstown, sites only discovered in 1953, descend to a small village where I found a piper who Piperstown Gap below Montpelier Hill played ‘Erin go bragh’ (Ireland forever). I saw a where hidden among the trees are the ruins small girl, whom I asked did she know Holts of of the Hellfire Club, an 18th century hunting Bohernabreena…she answered she did and I sent lodge constructed from the stones of an a note by her to my brother, requesting of him to ancient cairn and reputed to be the scene send me a loaf of bread, some cheese and a pint of wild orgies held by ‘sporting gentlemen’. of whiskey...” too early yet for lunch, I think! Curiously, I had just passed three sets of ladies After the failure of the 1803 revolt, Robert unmentionables draped on a barbed wire Emmet was nearly discovered in Kearney’s fence…‘coincidence or what?’ public house nearby at Bohernabreena. Soon the way doglegs left onto a narrow Emmet and some boreen, downhill from here is the hamlet of Piperstown, where in July 1798, General Joseph Holt of the Wicklow United

Heading toward s the hamlet of Piperstown

Leinster

The Route

of his comrades hid in the attic when it was raided by a troop of yeomanry; the publican’s wife Mrs Kearney dissuaded the captains of the Yeo’s from climbing the stairs because they were unsafe, as indeed they were because Arthur Devlin was at the top of the stairs with a loaded blunderbuss! Arthur Devlin, the son of a Wicklow farmer died of a haemorrhage some years later in New South Wales after being deported for being a companion of Michael Dwyer during the 1798 Rebellion. Follow the boreen below high shaded banks were Harts Tongue fern and Horse’s Tail prosper, notice a very tall and ornate wrought iron gate with brass knobs, chains and an assortment of other odd shapes, which evidently took great effort to assemble but alas the gate now appears to lead nowhere! Turning south onto the Mountain Road the full beauty of the valley of Glenasmole surrounded on three sides by mountains is revealed. The glen was an ideal location for the damming of the River Dodder to build in 1883/87 the reservoirs of the Bohernabreena Water Works, to supply drinking water to Rathmines and to ensure a constant supply of water power to the many flour, paper, saw, glue and dye mills, as well as breweries, distilleries, foundries, tanneries and a bacon curing factory along the course of the river…a veritable industrial estate! To the west of the glen rise steep field systems on the lower slopes of Seehan Mountain, to the south is Kippure

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Leinster

Bohernabreena Water Works dam

“There is a legend that Fionn never died but is sleeping in a cave, waiting to awaken and defend Ireland in her hour of greatest need. Fionn, now would be good!” Mountain, clearly visible on its northern slopes are a trio of deep furrows that are Slade, Cot and Mareen’s Brooks, the sources of the River Dodder.

End of the walk at Sean Walsh Pa rk, Tallaght

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Kippure, cíop mhór ‘ a great place of mountainy grass’ although on the Wicklow border, it is the highest summit (752m) in County Dublin and is easily identified by its TV mast. To the east are the Feather Beds, famed for Bog Cotton which flowers there in spring

and summer. Bog Cotton or Cotton grass was used in the past for stuffing pillows and in wound dressings during the First World War! Its presence is a useful indicator to walkers of a marshy area of bog to be avoided! After forking right on tarmac, again fork right at an iron gate to follow a narrow laneway as it weaves between stone embankments before following a line of hawthorn bushes to reveal… Saint Anne’s Burial Ground, hidden within the confines of a surrounding stone wall. Notice inside the gate an ancient water font carved from a massive stone…many years ago a local landowner attempted to remove this font to his own gardens, his men having attached chains around the font, yoked it to two horses and tried to drag it away. Firstly the chains snapped, then the swing bar harness broke and lastly one of the horses fell and broke its leg! At which point… ‘Discretion became the better part of valour’ and the font remains to this day! Among the gravestones are the remains of an early Christian Church founded by Saint Santan who was the son, born circa AD500, of a Saxon king; Sawyl the Arrogant. In adulthood, Santan crossed the Irish Sea to the land of his mother, and founded his church here at Killmesantan, where it


remained a functioning church into the 17th century; perhaps the name Saint Anne is a corruption of the earlier Saint Santan? Continue downhill to the valley floor of Glenasmole ‘the Valley of the Thrushes’ long associated with the mythical Celtic hero Fionn Mac Cumhail, leader of the Fianna of ancient Ireland charged with guarding the High King. There is a legend that Fionn never died but is sleeping in a cave, waiting to awaken and defend Ireland in her greatest hour of need. Fionn, now would be good! After crossing the upper dam with its pier to a valve house, descend past the recently reconstructed spillway to follow the access road to the entrance on Bohernabreena Road. Cross Fort Bridge to enter Kiltipper Park with the Dodder River hidden in a nearby wooded gorge. All too soon, return to suburbia and the housing estates of Tallaght at the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. The DMW finishes in Seán Walsh Park, close to the Luas Red Line… Before dawn the Viking raiders broke camp, their scouts had seen a small church in the valley to the west but decided to spare the monks to avoid alerting the Monastery of Tallaght where greater spoils awaited. As the first streaks

of light lit up the eastern sky, the Norsemen gathered on a hill with a large cairn, watching the cooking fires being kindled at the monastic settlement below. Swords drawn, they advanced silently, after fording a river the attack commenced with a terrifying battle cry and a terrible slaughter began… History records in 769A.D. Saint Maelruain founded the Monastery of Tallaght and it became such an important centre of learning and piety that it and the monastery at Finglas were known as the “two eyes of Ireland”. The material richness of the Irish monasteries caught the interest of Norse raiders who systematically laid waste to many of them and much of the great literary and artistic products of early Ireland were lost. The annals of Saint Maelruain’s Monastery record that in 811 the monastery was devastated by the Vikings!

FACT FILE DUBLIN MOUNTAINS WAY Killakee to Tallaght Distance: 13.5km/19miles Ascent: 20m Time: 3 to 4 hours Map: EastWest Mapping: Dublin Mountains Way.

T N U O M CLIMB

O R A J N A M I KIL

–4 R E TH B O T C O 5 2

TH

We are heading back to Tanzania to climb the highest free standing mountain in the world! This challenging trek takes us along the beautiful Machame route which is the most scenic route to the snow capped summit at 5896m. With an additional day of acclimatisation it is a tough but spectacularly rewarding route.

Phone 01 417 or visit

8028

www.concernchallenge.org

012 NOVEMBER 2


Connacht

The Western Ox Mountains

Helen Fairbarn is pleasantly surprised by the scenic variety at the western tip of the Ox Mountains

T

he Ox Mountains are a range of hills that I always associate with County Sligo. But at their western extremity, the summits cross the border into County Mayo. And here, above the small town of Foxford, lies some delightful terrain that few people apart from the local residents ever appreciate. The scenic highlights include: a peat-covered ridge with fine views across Lough Conn to Croagh Patrick, a charming farming hamlet backed by steep cliffs and wild lakes, and a stretch of untamed moorland where there’s a decent probability you might spot a herd of wild mountain goats. The feral goats deserve particular mention. Though they’re originally descended from domestic stock, goats are one of the fastest creatures in the world to return to their wild instincts. Many of Ireland’s wild herds have

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roamed their territories for hundreds of years, and notable populations can be found in the Burren, Glendalough and Killarney. In these hills, I was fortunate enough to catch sight of a large, lone male – known as a buck or a billy – as he was preparing for the autumn rut one September. With a long, black beard down to his knees and massive horns that curved over his back, he struck an impressive figure as he sauntered across his kingdom. For walkers, there have been several interesting developments around Foxford in recent years, and there is now an array of looped walks to choose from. This route follows part of the Ox Mountain Trail, which has replaced the former Foxford Way in this area. The upland parts of the route are fully waymarked and navigation is a relatively simple affair in clear conditions. Care must still be taken in poor visibility however, because successive marker posts may not

be visible if the cloud is down. Though the terrain is relatively firm throughout, there are patches of long grass and you’ll appreciate gaiters in wet conditions. The upland sections are linked by a series of narrow lanes. In total there is some 4km along tarmac, though the lanes are so remote you may not see a single vehicle along the way. Though it’s well worth completing the entire route, the figure-of-eight shape means you can also split the walk into two halves. Each half would provide an enjoyable afternoon’s outing in its own right.

Getting To The Start The route starts and finishes at a car park located at the top of a hill near Glendaduff (GR: G 306,092). The nearest town is Foxford, situated around 9km away on the N26 Ballina-Swinford road. Glendaduff is a remote area and you’ll need your OS map to


The Walk From the car park, begin by heading west along the lane. Continue downhill for roughly 500m, until you find a waymarking post on the right hand side of the road. Turn left here and start climbing along a grassy track. The track weaves past several hillocks and carries you up onto wild moorland. At the top of the track, head left past a picnic table. The route is now marked by a line of white posts. Follow these along a raised bank, then veer left onto a peaty trail. As you reach the highpoint at around 270m, a wonderful panorama opens up over Lough Conn, Nephin and Croagh Partick. The expansive view is a great reward for the relatively small amount of effort expended thus far. The route now begins to descend, still veering left on the way down. Within long you cross a metal stile and arrive at the top of a farm track. Continue across two further stiles to reach the tarmac on a narrow county lane. Turn left along the lane and continue for 2km to a T-junction. Here you should turn left again. After 800m you reach another T-junction. Turn right here and follow this lane for roughly 1.3km. Continue until you’re around 80m short of a forestry plantation, then look for a gravel track on the left. The

bottom of the track is marked by a post box and a sign for ‘Derry Nabaunshy Cottage’. Head along the track, past a cluster of ruined stone buildings. Continue around a couple of sharp bends then enter the forest itself. Near the end of the plantation there’s gap in the trees on the left, marked by a metal gate at the bottom of a grassy slope. This is your ascent route onto the mountain ridge above. Pass through the gate and climb along the right side of the gap. The ground is steep and rough at first but it will become easier as you progress. At the top of the trees continue to climb diagonally to the right across the open mountain slope. Your aim is to reach the lough that lies uphill to the north. The ground is now peaty underfoot, with a covering of moorland grass. The land is relatively well drained however, and progress is surprisingly easy for the duration of the upland section. It comes as something of a surprise to pass over a rise and find yourself almost on top of the lough. The attractive, un-named lake lies in a shallow hollow and is relatively sheltered, providing a perfect spot for a rest. When you’re ready, follow the western shore of the lake to its northern tip. Now veer westwards, climbing across the open ridge until you see a line of black waymarking posts. These posts mark the route of the Ox Mountain Trail. Join the route and turn left, enjoying more fine views over Nephin and Croagh Patrick to the west and southwest.

Connacht

navigate the network of tiny lanes to reach it. The car park itself is marked by a bench and two information boards, and has enough space for at least six vehicles.

View from the Western Ox Mountains to Lough Conn and Nephin.

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Connacht “With a long, black beard down to his knees and massive horns that curved over his back, he struck an impressive figure as he sauntered across his kingdom.�

FACT FILE

WESTERN OXDistance: Distance:13km/7.5miles Ascent: 760m/1500ft Time: 4.5 hours Map: OSi 1:50,000 sheet 24

Walker on the Ox Mountain Trail above Glendaduff.

Follow the posts southwest for 2km, undulating along the ridge top. As you near the final rise, the cliffs and loughs above Glendaduff come into sight across the valley. This is a beautiful section, with blooming swathes of purple heather decorating the On the shores of the un-named lough near point 335m.

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hillside in late summer. The marker posts now lead you to the top of a rough track, which zigzags down the hillside. Near the bottom of this section, the route is signed off the track to the left. A short, rough descent then brings you over a

wall and across a field, where a stile provides access to the road. Turn right onto the lane and continue past the pretty farming hamlet of Glendaduff. The car park where you started the circuit is just a couple of hundred metres further on.


Munster

Mount Eagle Tom Hutton enjoys breathtaking views from the western tip of Ireland. Photos by Tom Hutton

Descending from Binn an Choma

M

ount Eagle rises straight from the surf of the Atlantic at the far western end of the Dingle Peninsula. At 516m, it’s not exactly high by Kerry standards, but the fact that it almost overhangs the waves makes it appear far taller, especially if you start climbing at sea level. This is a relatively short walk – a surf and turf combination of mountain and coast. And much of the distance is covered on level and relatively easy ground, allowing a fast average speed and making it ideal for a shorter day. But bear in mind that it passes one of Kerry’s finest beaches, Coomeenoule, so it’s definitely worth allowing a little time to enjoy this; and the views from Binn an Choma - the bristly outcrop that defines the mountain’s southern top - are among the best in the country so

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you’ll want a bit of time to enjoy these too. The walk description starts from the Blasket Centre, just north of Dunquin, although it could just as easily begin at Coomeenoule if this was preferred. It kicks off with the steep climb of the mountain followed by a sweet traverse of its southern ridge and a gruelling drop back down to sea level. The work’s all done by this point and all that’s left is a delightful lap of Dunmore Head - a great place to spot wildlife. Note that the modest summit height means that Mount Eagle is often clear when the Brandon Mountain range is shrouded in cloud, but navigation from the summit to Binn an Choma would be pretty awkward in poor visibility so it’s not really a great bet for a bad day. And it’s also exposed to the full brunt of the wind whipping in off the sea, so not ideal in a gale.

Getting to the start Follow the Slea Head road (R559) west from Dingle and continue around Slea Head and past the parking area above Coumeenoole Bay (a possible starting place). Continue around the headland and past Dunquin village and then bear left, as signed, to the Blasket Centre. GR: Q 314,008.

The Route

Leave the centre by turning right onto the road and continue straight ahead to cross a bridge. Continue to a junction and bear left to follow a narrow lane inland and around a sharp left-hand bend. Continue for 200m and then bear right onto a drive. Follow this left and then right where it narrows into a sunken track that leads up through pastures onto the main road. Cross and walk up the lane opposite, which


Otherwise, turn half-right (south-west) and Reeks – often embroiled in cloud; and west continue for a few metres until you see a of these, you might even be able to make out metre-high metal post. Walk towards this and the stiletto-like silhouettes of the spectacular you’ll see another post that points the way Skelligs – smaller and even more remote than onto a slightly clearer path that starts to swing the Blasket Islands. back around to the south. This soon joins up Fully rested, continue along the line of the with the remains of an old stone wall and your wall and you’ll eventually start to drop down navigation troubles are over. The wall leads the toe of the ridge towards the sea. The path is clear and easy to follow but it does get a you easily and enjoyably along the broad crest of the ridge towards Summit of Moun t Eagle Binn an Choma – where you’ll see a rocky outcrop topped with a small cairn. A fortuitously placed sheepfold, beneath the cairn, will provide plenty of shelter on a windy day. The views from this spot are absolutely breathtaking; with the Blasket Islands, dotted away into the distance, and the turquoise water and white sands of Coumeenoole Bay looking almost tropical, directly beneath your feet. South, across Dingle Bay, you should be able to make out the jagged skyline of the Macgillycuddy’s Mount

Munster

makes a steep beeline up the northern flanks of Mount Eagle towards the pass of Mám Clasach. Continue until the road levels and then bear right onto a stony track, opposite a small parking area. Take this old bog road easily upwards allowing the wonderful views over the ocean to take your mind off the exertion. The Blasket islands look incredibly close from here and it’s amazing to think that they were inhabited until as late as the early 1950s. Their story is told eloquently in the centre, where you started. Continue around a succession of zigzags, gaining altitude the whole time, and you eventually spill onto the crest of the broad northern ridge of the mountain, where you’ll meet another track coming up from the left. This is the more popular approach to the summit from Mount Eagle Lough, but despite its popularity, it’s nothing like as spectacular as the way you’ve just come. Stay on the main track towards the summit, although it is possible to deviate left slightly, to the lip of the northern coom, where you’ll get great views over the mountain’s craggy northern flanks as well as the lake itself, and of course, the imposing sentinel of Brandon Mountain, a few kilometres further east again. Rejoin the track and continue to its end. Keep ahead, now on a faint boggy path, and a few minutes of concerted effort will see you at the concrete trig point. The next section could be difficult in poor visibility, so if you’re in any doubt, it may be better to turn around and retrace your outward route back down the mountain.

Eagle from the North

“ South, across Dingle Bay, you should be able to make out the jagged skyline of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks.”

Between Mount Eagle and Binn an Choma

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Munster

FACT FILE

MOUNT EAGLE

Time: 5-6 hours Distance: 16km/10 miles Total Ascent: 650m Maps: Osi 1:50, 000 sheet 70

Coumeenoole Bay

that leads onto the main road. Turn left and walk along the verge until a yellow man sign points you left, between walls, down to a section of old road. Turn right to follow this up towards Dunquin village and then bear left at a T-junction, to follow more Dingle Way signs along the cliff tops. This will lead to the place you turned off earlier, where you can retrace your footsteps to the Blasket Centre.

Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle.

little steep in places so some concentration is still required. You’ll eventually drop into a dip and then climb again for a few metres before a final steep drop leads to a ladder stile in the wall on your right, where you should see some Dingle Way waymarkers. Turn right to cross the stile, and follow the waymark posts easily along the side of a wall, before eventually spilling out into a field and dropping to the left to the main road. Turn right onto the road, and walk easily around the coast to the car park above the beautiful sands of Coumeenoole Beach – made famous as the setting for the beach scenes in the film Ryan’s Daughter. Turn left, into the car park, and keep ahead as the drive bears sharp left to drop to the beach (or

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of course, drop down the drive to enjoy the beach). Follow the narrow path up to a wall, and cross it on stone steps. Now continue easily out onto the western tip of Dunmore Head, which is actually the westernmost point of mainland Ireland. If time allows, this is a great spot to lose a few hours; taking in the scenery and the calls of the gulls. It’s also a great place to spot seabirds and marine mammals. It is possible to scramble quite a long way down towards the very tip of the peninsula, out of the wind. To finish, continue around the northern edge of the headland, which is sadly less interesting than the southern one, but still offers fine views over Blasket Sound and then follow the clear track up towards a gate


Ulster

Castle Ward Gareth McCormack checks out a brand new walking trail around this beautiful estate on the shore of Strangford Lough. Photos by Gareth McCormack

View of Castle Ward from the west with Strangford Lough behind.

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woodland. The people at Castle Ward have created five new trails, but the one that is of most interest to walkers is the 13km-long Boundary Trail. Much of this route has been purpose built and because it has also been designed to appeal to mountain-bikers, it has been deliberately constructed to be narrow and twisting in sections, which for me only adds interest to the walking. However you will need to be wary of cyclists approaching from behind. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing the trail with two-wheeled enthusiasts, there is an alternative 12km trail known as the Hoof Trail that also explores the boundaries of the estate. However as the name suggests, you’ll be sharing this trail with four-legged company instead. When you enter the estate you’ll be given a free trail map, which is more useful than the OS map in terms of finding your way around the various paths.

Getting To The Start The circuit starts and finishes at the shore car park in Castle Ward estate (GR: J 573,494). The estate is signed off the A25 DownpatrickStrangford road, around 12km northeast of Downpatrick and 2km southwest of Strangford. It’s also possible to walk to the estate from Strangford village. Rather than walk along the main road, join the Lecale Way at a footpath that starts from the end of Castle Street. This

leads over the hill behind the village, past fine views over the lough, before continuing around the shoreline to Castle Ward. You join the route described near the camping ground. Adding this start/finish to the route extends the day’s walk by about 5km. The grounds at Castle Ward are open daily and entry is £6 per adult. House tours cost £4 extra. The house, wildlife centre and tea rooms are open daily during Easter Week, July and August, and on weekends and public holidays from April to June and in September. Other facilities include an open farm and an adventure playgound for children.

Ulster

S

ince the late 19th century the National Trust has been the principal animator in heritage conservation in Britain and Northern Ireland. A large part of the Trust’s remit in the north lies in the preservation of the province’s valuable 18th century mansion houses and estates. And fortunately for us, walkers are very much to the fore in their thinking as to how these wonderful sites should be enjoyed by the public. The larger estates like Florence Court and Castle Coole have long provided waymarked walks of varying length and difficulty, and have been a staple on the calendars of walking clubs throughout Ulster for years. To that company you can now add Castle Ward, which this year completed work on a brand new trail system. The redesign doubled the maximum length of walk previously available, to the point where it is now a serious attraction for walkers. Castle Ward house was built in the 1760s for Bernard and Anne Ward, the then Lord and Lady of Bangor. It’s notable not just because it is a beautiful and imposing structure, but because the two main facades feature strikingly different architectural styles. The west-facing facade is in the classical style, while the eastern side is a demonstration of gothic design. The house is surrounded by 820 acres of walled demesne that includes stables, barns, a working farm and a mixture of rolling farmland and

The Walk From the shore car park, follow a path north along the lough shore, passing the disused gas works to reach The Barn and Farmyard areas. The Barn serves as a base for the hire of mountain bikes and is the focal point for Castle Ward’s three shorter waymarked routes: the Farm, Castle and Shore trails. The Boundary Trail incorporates parts of all three trails. Follow the Shore Trail northeast along the edge of Strangford Lough, soon passing Strangford Yacht Club. A little further on the Shore Trail ends and the Castle Trail takes over, leading around a wooded hill crowned by the imposing 15th-century ruins of Audley’s Castle. It’s worth leaving the path and climbing the grassy slopes to have a

Visitors enjoying the view across Strangford Lough from Audley’s Castle.

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Ulster “The Hoof Trail also explores the boundaries of the estate, but as the name suggests, you’ll be sharing this trail with four-legged company.”

Cattle grazing beneath Audley’s Castle

better look, and also to enjoy the commanding view from the base of the castle across the Strangford narrows. This castle and many similar structures along the coast were built as a response to King Henry VI’s offer of £10 to anyone who would erect a tower to protect the coastline. Drop back down onto the path and follow it through Audley’s Wood to emerge onto a small tarmac road. Cross the road and pass through a gate in the estate wall. Now follow the Farm Trail, keeping to the right and working your way around the back of the walled garden. Turn right at a junction and follow a wide gravel path out across a vast area of rolling pasture known as West Park. You’re now on the Boundary Trail itself. There are a couple of small climbs, affording good views back across the estate. As you near the western extent of the estate, you reach a band of forestry known as the Mallard Plantation. Here you can choose between the Boundary Trail or Hoof Trail through the trees because they come together again about a kilometre later at a junction on the southern side of the plantation. The Boundary Trail heads southwest along Downpatrick Avenue for a couple of hundred metres before turning left and climbing up a track into an area of low scrub. The route then turns

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FACT FILE

CASTLE WARD Distance: 13km/8 miles Ascent: 80m/250ft Time: 3 hours Map: OSNI 1:50,000 sheet 21; OSNI 1:25,000 Activity Map Strangford left onto a gravel path and heads back into trees once again. This is the start of a long section where the trail doubles back on itself twice. If you want to avoid these meanders, simply cut across them on the Hoof Trail. The Boundary Trail eventually straightens out as it heads across formal parkland just south of the mansion house. It then veers south, climbing towards the main entrance to the estate and passing through thick woodland, before crossing the entrance road and heading north through the trees of the Windmill Plantation. As you cross Church Walk you reach the closest point to the house, and there’s a good opportunity to make the detour to see the building close up and perhaps have a break in the tearooms. Meanwhile the official route heads off across Deer Park, another vast swathe of grazing pasture dotted with great towers of gorse. The path then descends through a gate in an old wall and out along Strangford Avenue. The shore car park and the finish of the walk are only a few hundred metres further along.

Sailing boats moored in Strangford harbour


Festivals Festivals Festivals Festivals Ballyhoura Bears Autumn Walking Festival Saturday 22nd-Sunday 23rd October

Connemara Wild at Heart Four Seasons Walking Festival October 22-24

They say: Outdoor enthusiasts from Ballyhoura Country and the surrounding areas are being encouraged to take advantage of the excellent walking opportunities in the Ballyhoura Mountains this autumn. The 2011 Ballyhoura Bears Autumn Walking Festival will take place from Saturday 22nd Oct to Sunday 23rd October; the festival has gained international recognition on the European calendar of renowned walking festivals. The event includes 8 guided walks over the two days which range from 6km to 20km, as well as a programme of evening social events at Deebert House Hotel. The two day festival includes walks for all abilities. These include short woodland walks and town trails to challenging high level ridge walks, ascents of some of Ireland’s highest inland mountains including Galty Mór, and explorations of the beautiful countryside. There is also Night Walk in the Greenwood Forest and a number of themed walks to take advantage of the variety of landscapes, wildlife, history and heritage found within the area. Details of the weekends activities can be found on the walking festival website at www.ballyhouracountry.com, or telephone 063 91300 / email leerobert@eircom.net for more information

They say: Make a date this year to explore the Connemara landscape with not just great walking but great guides, providing a fantastic insight into the very unique cultural/archeological/historic heritage of the area running on selected dates over the four seasons of the year. Autumn Festival – Friday 22nd October to Sunday 24th October. The event kicks off with on Friday evening with an introductory talk hosted by Michael Gibbons, where the rich history and secrets of the Connemara Islands and Highlands with be shared. Location: Station House Theatre, Clifden Station House. Time: 8.00pm Saturday 23rd October: Inisbofin – Island of the white cow Easy to moderate walking along small roads, open bog and mountain. Duration: 5hrs Sunday 24th October: Diamond Hill Duration: 3 1/2 hrs- Moderate hike. Harder option is 5-6 hrs. Walk Grade: Moderate to difficult walking. (steep in places) Packages start from €199pps for 2 nights, and €299 pps for 3 nights, inclusive of breakfast, dinner, packed lunches and guided walks. To book call any of the 5 participating hotels: Abbey Glen Castle Hotel – 095 21201; Clifden Station House – 095 21699; Ballynahinch Castle – 095 31006; Lough Inagh Lodge – 095 34706; Cashel House Hotel – 095 31001

Foxford Walking Festival October 21-23 They say: The Foxford Ramblers Walking Club in County Mayo will be hosting the Inaugural Foxford Walking Festival from 21st to 23rd October 2011. The Festival kicks off on Friday 21st with a Welcome Reception and Registration at 8pm at the Foxford Sport and Leisure Centre. There will be three guided walks each day on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd October and these walks will be graded as Hard, Moderate, or Easy to ensure something for all fitness levels. The Easy walk on Sunday 23rd is a Family Nature Walk in nearby Drummin Wood led by well known ecology expert Chris Huxley. There will also be entertainment on Saturday and Sunday at the Foxford Sport and Leisure Centre, with TV personality Dale Treadwell’s “Naturally Wild Show” for the kids as well as bouncing castle and refreshments available. All in all it should be a great weekend with something for everyone and the Foxford Ramblers are confident of a great turnout for this, the first, of what they hope will be many Walking Festivals. For further information, you can contact foxfordwalkingfestival@gmail. com or phone 094-9257684. The Festival website www.foxfordwalkingfestival.com has all the details and we look forward to seeing you there Contact Jim Murray, Foxford Sport and Leisure Centre 094-9257684 Email; foxfordwalkingfestival@gmail.com Web: www.foxfordwalkingfestival.com

Omagh District Council Autumn Walking Festival 2011 October 28-30 They say: Omagh District Council’s second walking festival will take place on from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th October. The festival is part of a programme, funded through the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013, and will appeal to all levels of walkers, including families and those who enjoy moderate and challenging walks. The festival will take place in the beautiful Gortin Glens near Omagh, County Tyrone. The Gortin Glens are a part of the Sperrin Mountains range; the largest and least explored mountain range in Northern Ireland with dramatic landscapes, rivers teaming with life, mountains, valleys, forests and lakes. With some of the most spectacular and stunning scenery as a backdrop and right on your door step, this is the perfect location to get an extraordinary experience no matter what your looking for ! The walking festival will appeal to all levels of walkers with graded walks on offer. For all queries, application forms, details on all the walking routes please contact Elaine or Deidre at Sperrins Tourism ltd on 028 8674 7700 or from the festival website www.omaghwalkingfestival.com

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Names

Valleys, Glens, Coums

& Cauldrons

Paul Tempan explores the wealth of names for the lands below Ireland’s peaks

I

n an earlier article I looked at the names of mountain ranges, but for every peak there is a trough, for every up a down. So this time we take a tour through the glens of Ireland. Valleys are places of great significance for human geography. They often provide the best land for agriculture and settlement, exemplified by the Golden Vale, located north of the Galtee Mountains in Cos Tipperary and Limerick. In Irish this is Machaire na Mumhan, ‘the plain of Munster’. Many a glen was the scene of a military encounter between Irish and English forces. The narrow confines of Callan Glen near Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry proved the ideal place for the MacCarthys to attack their Anglo-Norman foes in 1261. Similarly, Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne ambushed and routed the English in Glenmalure (Gleann Molúra), Co. Wicklow in 1580 (“See the swords of Glen Imayle, Flashing o’er the English pale”). Three years later, his ally Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond, was betrayed and assassinated in Glanageenty (Gleann na Ginnte, ‘glen of the wedge’)

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in the Stacks Mountains east of Tralee. The dense woodland of Glengarriff, Co. Cork (An Gleann Garbh, ‘the rough glen’) gave Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare the cover needed to slip away from the English after his stronghold at Dunboy had been captured in 1602. Glens, especially the smaller, more remote ones, can be places of legend and mystery. Gleann Bolcáin (identified with Glenbuck in North Antrim) was the favourite haunt of mad Sweeney, who was cursed to live the life of a bird. Here he flitted from tree to tree and fed on watercress. He also resorted to Glannagalt on the Dingle Peninsula (Gleann na nGealt, ‘glen of the madmen’), famous in the Middle Ages for a supposed cure for insanity. Evocative names like the Fairy Glen at Rostrevor, Co. Down, the Devil’s Glen in Co. Wicklow and Druids’ Glen, also in Wicklow, all allude to magic or the supernatural. The last of these is actually a very modern name, but one place with a genuine and ancient druidic association is Altadaven, a wooded nook on the north-eastern slopes of Slieve Beagh in

Co. Tyrone. The original Irish name is Alt an Deamhain, ‘ravine of the demon’. Some step-shaped rocks at Altadaven may well have been a pagan altar. This feature is now known as St. Patrick’s Chair, reflecting the story that Patrick overcame the druids here and converted the local population to Christianity. For the walker, a valley may provide a means of approach to a peak or, if especially interesting or beautiful, may be the primary objective of the walk. Some of my favourite places to walk include Glenshelane, Co. Waterford (Gleann Síothláin), Scotia’s Glen, Co. Kerry (Gleann Scoithín), Glenaniff, Co. Leitrim (Gleann Ainimh) and Glenariff, Co. Antrim (Gleann Airimh). Surprisingly, it is not very common for Irish glens to have names derived from the rivers which run through them. Examples are Glenahiry in Co. Waterford (from An Uidhir, River Nier), Glenflesk in Co. Kerry and Glenswilly in Co. Donegal. The Swilly has the further distinction of being the only Irish river having a glen, lough and peak (Binswilly) named after


Hag’s Glen or ‘Com Caillí’, Kerry

“The original name for Altadaven, a wooded nook in Co. Tyrone, is Alt an Deamhain, ‘ravine of the demon’.” it. Another rarity is Glen Nephin in Co. Mayo, where the glen is named after the mountain. Several different regional terms are used in Ireland for high mountain valleys or glacial hollows. In Munster it is usually com, meaning ‘rounded hollow’. Numerous hollows eat into the Comeragh plateau, including Coumtay, Coummahon, Coomshingaun, Coumgaurha, Coum Iarthar, Coumlara and Coumfea. Com Caillí is the Hag’s Glen below Carrauntoohil. The diminutive coimín occurs nearby in An Coimín Dubh, the Black Valley and in An Coimín Uachtarach, Cummeenoughter, a hanging valley between the cliffs of Carrauntoohil and Beenkeragh. The Welsh equivalent of com is cwm, found in Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia, a favourite haunt of rock-climbers in the shadow of Tryfan and Glyder Fawr. This Celtic term has also found its way into English names of the West Country such as Ilfracombe,

Babbacombe and Widdecombe. Another similar term is log ‘hollow’, which is particularly common in Wicklow and in Connemara. Just below Binn Briocáin in the Maamturk Mountains is Log na gCapall, ‘hollow of the horses’. Binn idir an dá Log in the same range is the ‘peak between two hollows’. Coire ‘cauldron’ is found in Connacht and Ulster. This is the origin of the Scottish word ‘corrie’ which has become a general term in mountaineering for a glacial cirque. Among the highest peaks in the Twelve Bens of Connemara are Binn an Choire Mhóir and Binn an Choire Bhig, ‘peak of the great/little corrie’, whose glistening slabs overlook Lough Inagh. In the Irish epic, the Cattle Raid of Cooley, the great brown bull was hidden away from the clutches of Queen Maeve in Dubhchoire, ‘the black corrie’. Coire can also refer to water-features. Gob an Choire, ‘headland of the whirlpool’ is the Irish name of the settlement at

Achill Sound. Tobercurry in Co. Sligo comes from Tobar an Choire, ‘well of the whirlpool’. The most famous instance is undoubtedly Coire Bhreacáin, the Corry Vreckan, the turbulent stretch of water located between Fair Head and Rathlin Island which has wrecked many a ship. All three of these words are occasionally applied to a peak situated above the hollow, e.g. Coomacarrea, Co. Kerry (Com an Charria, ‘coom of the deer’), Lugnaquillia, Co. Wicklow (Log na Coille, ‘hollow of the wood’) and Corranabinnia, Co. Mayo (Coire na Binne, ‘cauldron of the peak’). Somewhat rarer is the term glac/glaic whose literal meaning is ‘an open hand or paw’, ‘one’s grasp’. The sharp dip between the summit tor and the south tor on Hen Mountain in the Mournes is known as the Glack. Glac mara means a sea-inlet according to Dinneen’s Irish-English dictionary. Which reminds me, “How are things in Glac Mara?”

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Nature

Curlew in Crisis Vanishing, protected – and hunted in Ireland, the curlew is one of several anomalies in the list of legal targets. By Dick Warner

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he curlew is a familiar bird to most people. It’s our largest wader and its long, down-curving beak and iconic cry make it stand out. But this familiarity may soon be a thing of the past, as curlews are experiencing a rapid decline in numbers. It’s therefore very strange to read a document issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Service called ‘Hunting Seasons For Wild Birds - 2011/2012’ and find that there is a legal hunting season for curlews from November 1st to November 30th. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is obliged, under Irish and European law, to protect declining or threatened species. Issuing licences for people to shoot them appears to be in total contradiction of this obligation. It is true that the partial survey that Birdwatch Ireland carried out was confined to Irish breeding curlews and a November hunting season is aimed at winter migrant birds that fly in from places like Scandinavia and northern Scotland. But two points have to be made. Firstly when a hunter aims his shotgun he has no idea whether his target is one of the highly endangered Irish breeding birds or a foreign visitor. Secondly the winter migrant population is also declining rapidly and the species was recently put into the ‘Near Threatened’ category by the IUCN for the whole of Europe. The National Parks and Wildlife

Service is part of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and has suffered severe cutbacks in recent times. Could it be that these cutbacks have caused a situation where where they’re just re-issuing old hunting permits and don’t have the time or resources to consider all the recent evidence coming in about the status of curlews? If so this is a serious blow to Irish bird conservation. And it’s not just curlews. It’s hard to justify a hunting season for red grouse from September 1st to 30th. We’ll be getting some hard data on the status of grouse in the fairly near future but, based on what we know at present, lowland grouse are extinct, there are only a few hundred breeding pairs left in the uplands and this number continues to decline. When we get updated information I suspect it will show a sharp decline in Irish breeding populations of some other wading birds. Snipe, woodcock and golden plover still arrive in this country in good numbers in the winter. But if we want to be able to go on listing them as Irish breeding birds we may have to consider removing the winter visitors from the list of legal targets as they can not be distinguished from the remnants of our breeding population. Another odd inclusion in the list of legal quarry is the scaup, a smallish sea duck that is amber-listed in Ireland and has a European status of ‘Endangered’. But a degree of common sense

must be applied where duck species are concerned. A lot of duck shooting is done at dawn and dusk when the birds are flying between feeding and roosting areas. Many medium-sized ducks species are indistinguishable from each other when they’re in flight in poor light. This applies in particular to female birds. This means that adding or removing species from the list of permitted quarry is a bit of an academic exercise. Despite this, I believe there is a strong case for conservation organisations to lobby the Department for a review of the list of species that can be legally hunted. This is certainly the case where the poor curlew is concerned, particularly as I don’t believe there are many shooting people who really want to kill this practically inedible bird.

The curlew’s familiarity may soon be a thing of the past

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“When a hunter aims his shotgun he has no idea whether his target is one of the highly endangered Irish breeding birds or a foreign visitor.�

Male Scaup

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Rum

ALONE A Tom Hutton seeks solitude on the Hebridean Island of Rum. Photos by Tom Hutton

Dibidil Bothy, Rum.

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s hillwalkers we all express at least some desire to ‘get away from it all.’ But a day in the mountains with friends or the local club is really just a sociable way to escape the rat race for a few hours. And whilst jobs, cars, families and bills are all left at the trail head, the experience is seldom one of solitude. These and many thoughts like them run through my head as I tuck into a tasty freezedried sweet and sour on the third night of what was becoming a very lonely mini mountain odyssey on the Hebridean island of Rum. I quiz myself. What is the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing or speaking to another person? A day probably – a walk across some remote hills perhaps. But surely I would have seen and even interacted with others on the journey, or when I got home? Maybe a twodayer? In some of our less-trod mountains, that might have afforded me at least 24 hours of solitude. 24 hours! How long is that – really? I think of Christopher McCandless from Jon Krakauer’s gripping tale of ‘Into the Wild.’ How did he feel as the days, weeks


Glen Dibidil an d Askival.

and months slipped by as he lived off the land in his makeshift bus home in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness? And how must he have felt when he realised he’d poisoned himself and was probably going to die? Alone, a person can be so vulnerable. It is now over 60 hours since my last conversation. For over 60 hours I have been completely alone. Do I feel vulnerable? Oddly no: the need for self-reliance is really quite empowering. I think about the terrain I’ve crossed over the preceding days: high mountain scrambles on narrow knife-edge ridges, trackless and steep hillsides, with only wild goats for company. What would I have done if I’d twisted my ankle? Or fallen and broken a bone or two? The situation would have been grave. No-one really knows where I am: my partner is aware that I was heading for Rum, but that’s all. And I’d elected not to fill in a route card at the ranger’s office – it would have somehow detracted from the spirit of the trip. In climbing, I find exposure generates clear thought and careful movement. My situation felt the same. It was like I was moving high above my protection: checking every hold before committing to it; placing every foot with precision. I’m aware that tomorrow might bring an end to my solitude. I push the thought away. Rum is in the Inner Hebrides, just south of Skye. And although it is really quite small - a giant diamond of moor and bog around 14km across at its widest point - it is

obviously plenty big enough to get lost in. My plan was simple: ferry from Mallaig to the island’s only real settlement – Kinloch – and then straight up into the hills in an attempt to bag not just the rather impressive Cuillin Hills that dominate the east coast, but also the neighbouring Orval and satellite peaks, which could be said to belong to the wilder west coast. I carried four nights’ food and planned to get as far as I could, or as the weather would allow, before making my return via one of the island’s main roads, which are basically jeep tracks. The views from the ferry had whetted my appetite beyond belief – the Cuillins make up for their lack of altitude with some pretty imposing profiles. And I sprinted from the jetty after we landed – I really couldn’t wait to get among them. A clear but rough and often peaty path soon gave way to a lesser one and I hadn’t been going long before that all but disappeared leaving me to freelance my way upwards towards my first summit: Barkeval. I left my pack in a stony saddle and made an hour-long out and back sortie to the top. I hadn’t banked on a summit on day one so was elated by the time I picked up my pack again. I then turned my thoughts to finding somewhere to camp. The steep and rough terrain drove me down a few metres but I eventually found a

soft and sheltered pitch, and as a bonus, it had fine views north to Skye. I soaked up the evening ambience until the sun dipped behind the horizon. The tranquillity of the early evening didn’t last long though. And as darkness took hold, the silence I’d been revelling in gave way to the eerie shrieks and wails of thousands of manx shearwaters, who nest in burrows in the hillsides. It took me a while to work out what on earth it was and I understood why local people used to think the hills were

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Rum “I’m aware that tomorrow might bring an end to my solitude. I push the thought away.” haunted by evil spirits. The morning brought peak number two, a far bigger challenge than the first, with short scrambles now required to overcome a succession of rock bands that guarded Hallival’s 723m top. The descent was even tougher and by the time I made the next col a strong wind was blowing in from the east making walking rather difficult. Next up was the roof of the island, Askival, and although this can be scrambled directly, it had become way too windy to contemplate such a bold approach. I followed faint goat tracks around the eastern flanks before a short sharp climb on grippy basalt gained the trig. I photographed myself for posterity but didn’t hang around too long as the wind was still rising and it was clear that care was going to be needed on the descent. By the time I reached the apex

Askival

Glen Dibidil

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Hallival and Askival from near Barkeval

of the next col I was in great danger of being blown off my feet. And when one particularly fierce gust had me stumbling backwards I knew it was time to quit. It grieved me to lose such hard-earned altitude, especially when the traverse of the Cuillins was all but in the bag, but I knew I had no choice. I bailed southwards towards the coastal bothy of Dibidil. My retreat changed the nature of my trek completely although I hadn’t realised this at that point. I had the bothy to myself, something that really surprised me. Even more surprising was that the log had last been filled in 4 days previously. The sun felt warm out of the wind though and with huge waves crashing against a rocky shore, I felt as though I was stranded on a desert island. I whiled away the rest of the afternoon by the water’s edge feeling a little

Papadil


like Robinson Crusoe. I started early the next day, hoping to get back into the hills. But the wind showed no signs of relenting so I headed around the coast instead. The map showed a path as far as the ruins at Papadil Lodge; and from there, it was only 5km on to Harris, where I was sure of finding good camping before deciding what to do next. The coast path was incredibly rough, and progress was painfully slow; but it was worth it for the views and to stay out of the worst of the wind. The beach at Papadil was like an oasis and without doubt one of the most stunning spots I’d ever visited. Red deer grazed close to the beach and wagtails flitted about on the rocks. I could have been in heaven. I made a brew and savoured that. I then made lunch and nibbled at that slowly too. I really didn’t want to leave. I could have camped here but it would have meant

that I’d never get back into the hills. From Harris, I could pick off the remaining few peaks from the other side putting me back on target for Orval at least. I reluctantly moved on, quickly learning that there was no continuation path and that the next five kilometres were going to be very trying. To make matters worse, the route of least resistance seemed to deflect up 100m to avoid cliffs one minute, and then down 100m to the beach beyond the next. I tried staying high and even rock-hopping low, but all to no avail. Unbelievably, the next 5km took me over 3 hours. And so here I am, camped above the beach at Harris, with the sunset now directly ahead and the jagged outlines of the Cuillins towering high above. If the morning’s clear, I’ll climb back into them and postpone my sailing until Friday; if it’s not, it’s back to Kinloch and civilisation tomorrow. I know what I’m hoping for.

FACT FILE

GETTING THERE The fast way is the Calmac Ferry from Mallaig to Kinloch – reservations 0800 066 5000; www.calmac.co.uk. Slow but more fun is the MV Shearwater, which is a nature watching boat that links the islands acting as both a ferry and an attraction in its own right. www.arisaig. co.uk. Both Arisaig and Mallaig can be reached by train. MAPS AND BOOKS Ordnance Survey Explorer 397 Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna and Sanday The Islands of Scotland Including Skye by DJ Fabian, GE Little and DN Williams. Publ. Scottish Mountaineering Club ACCOMMODATION Hostel at Kinloch Castle, which has a choice of rooms. Campsite by the beach too. If you’re wild camping, remember Rum’s a nature reserve. FOOD There’s a shop in Kinloch but for lightweight, back packing options you’re probably best picking up supplies on the mainland. The Castle has a Bistro that does food, and there’s also a tea room in the village hall. SAFETY It’s strongly advised that you drop into the Rangers office to tell them where you are going, or at least fill in one of the route cards at the entrance to the hostel. This is particularly important if you are travelling alone. MORE INFORMATION www.isleofrum.com

Camp at Harris

Askival from Hallival

With a human population of around 30, Rum is the largest of the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides, and the 15th largest Scottish island. Rum has been inhabited since the 8th millennium BC and has provided some of the earliest known evidence of human occupation in Scotland. The early Celtic and Norse settlers left only a few written accounts and artefacts. From the 12th to 13th centuries on, the island was held by various clans including the MacLeans of Coll. The population grew to over 400 by the late 18th century but was cleared of its indigenous population between 1826 and 1828. The island then became a sporting estate and was purchased by the Nature Conservancy Council in 1957.


Books

Wildflowers of Ireland A Personal Record by Zoe Devlin Collins Press, Hardback 277 x 219mm €29.99 pp360

The subtitle of this book conveys an important aspect that is very much part of its appeal for a botanical lightweight like me. It’s personal. Which means that there is very much more than fact and photography presented in its 360 pages. The distinctive ingredient is enthusiasm, and as always, that enthusiasm draws you in. I’m almost ashamed to admit that for most of my life, flowers and plants have held little fascination for me. Immersed from an early age in the books of Gerald Durrell and with a birdwatcher’s eye always fixed on the sky, botany and the sometimes astounding erudition that it seems to demand, has always looked a little too much like hard work. Flowers are pretty, and look well in a vase, while a field of sunflowers is breathtaking – most of all when the Tour de France rolls through – but learning all those names and habitats? Life’s too short. But I’ll abandon any pretence of critical reserve and state from the outset that this book is, in my estimation, a gem. A

The Dingle, Iveragh and Beara Peninsulas A Walking Guide

By Adrian Hendroff Collins Press, Paperback 277 x 219mm €14.99 pp154

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strange word, perhaps, for what is very much at the coffee table end of the scale in terms of size and weight, but this book sparkles from cover to cover; not only with the author’s own photography, but with her enthusiasm. Over 400 wildflowers are recorded, presented, described and brought alive with anecdote, literary references, historical snippets and whatever else has engaged the author’s eye and mind. Presentation is relaxed and uncluttered, avoiding the oppressive density that makes more academic guides unbrowsable. This is a guide and a reference work, but one that draws you to the next page, and on further, long after the flower you originally sought to identify has slipped your mind. Buy it first for the pictures, but keep it on the coffee table for the reading that’s in it. Last month, while working my way The three peninsulas covered in this guide account for a sizeable proportion of Ireland's prime hillwalking. The rugged peaks, exquisite glens and dramatic coastline of the southwest provide some of the best Ireland walks has to offer. Most of the great routes are, of course, mainly unmarked, so all but the most experienced, adventurous or foolhardy rely on human or printed guidance. Accuracy, clarity, inspiration and a little humanity - are the chief virtues of a good guide. As I discovered recently, when I tackled No.15; The Cloon Horsehoe. I should have read Adrian Hendroff's notes more attentively, especially where he warns of the need for good visibility and a high level of fitness. I had neither on that day, but the clarity of Hendroff's description, the allure of his photography and the acccuracy of his navigation both encouraged my over-ambition and, in

tortuously across the lower slopes of a Kerry mountain, and forced to take a closer than usual interest in the ground at my feet, I noticed for the first time a tiny red flower I couldn’t identify (like most of them) and made a mental note to consult Zoe Devlin’s book as soon as I got home. That’s a first for me, and about as much as you can ask from a book – to add another dimension of interest to your walking. Conor O'Hagan the end, helped me through a difficult day. Twenty eight walks are covered, with many variations described, for those days when more, or less, is more. While a plentiful supply of Grid Refs is welcome both for paper and electronic mapping users, the maps themselves are unequivocally complimentary to OSi or Harvey's sheets rather than an alternative. The book is just about pocketable, though it would be a shame to expose a nice production like this to the unkind elements. It's eminently readable; Adrian Hendroff's love of mountains comes across in words and pictures, and it's a worthwhile investment for anyone new to or revisiting these superb routes. This guide is one in a series from Collins Press, and we'll be reviewing more in future issues. A fine start. Conor O'Hagan


Mountaineering Ireland

Be A Leader!

The Mountain Leader award can enrich your hillwalking. By Alun Richardson - Mountaineering Ireland Training Officer

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atching the clouds clear, the sun disappear over the distant horizon and even navigating through the mist after a great day out are what drive me to explore the hills and mountains. However, some of my most memorable and rewarding times have been while leading and introducing groups of people to the joys of hill walking. There are no legal requirements to hold an award to lead others in the hills of Ireland, but the Mountain Leader award not only helps to reduce accidents, but it will also improve the quality of the experience for hill walkers. Many see the award as the ‘Gold standard’ for those who lead others and teach navigation skills to novices in the mountains of Ireland during summer conditions. Unlike the ‘Walking Group Leader’ award there are no restrictions on the hills or mountains you can use, but it is not a scrambling or rock climbing award. Where do I start? Simply enjoy hill walking and increase the challenges gradually until you are an experienced hill walker. Along the way you could do the BOS Mountain Skills 1 & 2 courses to put sound navigation principles in place or join a club where you can learn from your peers. Mountaineering Ireland, through its sub committee BOS, administers the Mountain Leader award (ML) and you will need to follow the series of steps outlined here to gain the award. How difficult is the assessment? The ML award is not meant to be ‘a walk in the park’ but it is achievable by anyone who loves hill walking, however it is an award for life and therefore requires a degree of commitment and effort to gain it.

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There are some things you can do to make the journey easier for yourself and may help you to complete the award with the minimum of stress: ● ‘Find a mentor’ – Talk to someone who has been through the scheme recently and can help to mentor or encourage you when your enthusiasm wanes and the going gets tough. ● ‘Don’t treat it lightly’ - The award is an ‘all Ireland’ leadership award, accepted in the UK and ratified in Europe by the UIAA. ● ‘Think like a leader’ - It is a leadership award not a personal navigation award so come with a leader's head on. Gain leadership experience with people you don’t know and with a variety of ages and abilities. A Leader is not simply someone who can navigate a group around the hills, but is a role model for others, able to enthuse them about the landscape, the environment and the wildlife encountered. A leader should be able to cope in a crisis to prevent it turning into a disaster and look after a group on steep terrain. ● ‘Don’t underestimate the importance of a good logbook’ - The logbook is the first thing that an assessor will encounter of you and it reflects your attitude towards the ML award so make sure it is complete and easily readable. ● ‘Enjoy yourself’ – Gaining ‘Quality hill days’ should not be a chore if you are a keen hill walker, but what is a ‘quality walk’? That is a bit like asking about healthy diets - we all know what one is, but whatever way one attempts to put it down in writing everyone interprets it differently. A quality day may be a day that is not defined by distance or number of hours, but one that has real navigation in poor visibility or bad weather. Basically it simply means a good hard day in the hills with lots of ascent of big peaks that require stamina,

commitment, navigation etc. Anyone who is a serious walker will know what that is like, just like everyone knows what a healthy diet really is. ● ‘Buy some good waterproofs’! – Don’t practice navigation solely in good weather it is important that you make the effort to go out in the dark and the mist to practice your skill. The ML navigation element is preparing you for the rare time that you will be late down in the darkness and rain with a cold wet group trailing behind you. ● ‘Be passionate’ – You are not expected to be an expert on environment matters, plants, animals, geology, history, folklore weather; etc, but you are expected to be able to enthusiase a group about these subjects with a basic understanding. ● ‘Sweat a bit’ – You must come fit enough to walk with a loaded rucksack for at least 6 hours a day and be able to act as a leader and look after people on steep ground. ● ‘Confidence is the key’ – If you come well prepared, with a good logbook and all the pre-requisites ticked, the assessment will be a breeze, maybe even enjoyable! Candidates who struggle on assessment all come with the bare minimum of experience and poor backround knowledge, their logbooks are poorly filled in with walks and leadership experience at a minimum. When it says minimum in the handbook it means just that, good candidates usually have much more. If you have any questions then please contact Alun Richardson, MI Training Officer on alun@mountaineering.ie or phone 016251117


Steps to gain the ML Step 1 Join Mountaineering Ireland Step 2 Pass a MSA Step 3 Register with the training office for the ML Step 4 Complete a 2-day ML1 training with a registered provider Step 5 Complete a 3-day ML2 Training with a registered provider Step 6 Complete a 2-day First Aid course Step 7 Fulfil the post training requirements Step 8 Pass the assessment! More info is available at the training and safety link at www.mountaineering.ie

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s l i a r Top T

Hadrian’s Wall Path

Hadrian’s Wall, near Housesteads

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h

Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian, Hadrian’s Wall was the most heavily fortified border in the Roman Empire. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Hadrian’s Wall Path runs for 135 km (84 mi), from Wallsend on the east coast of England to Bowness-onSolway on the west coast. The walking is generally easy and well signposted, and with the highest point on the path only 345m (1130 ft) high, it is generally level. Though most of the Wall runs

through remote countryside, there are lengthy sections passing through Newcastle and Carlisle. The path is well signposted. For most of the walk there are many signs of human activity, and, in summer, many other walkers. The middle stretches of the path are relatively remote and thinly serviced. Chollerford to Walton is the section of the path where the Wall is best preserved, with the remains of several Roman forts still visible. www.visitnorthumberland.com Photo: Rod Edwards

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Gear

A Tale of Two Walks Is softshell worth it? Andy Callan learned the hard way

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hen it first appeared on the scene about seven or eight years ago, softshell was the new big thing and we were promised that eventually it would lead to the demise of our traditional 'hardshell' waterproof jackets. Well that day is still in the far-off future and because of that it’s worth asking - is Softshell worth the bother? I’d argue it is - if you get it right. While testing jackets for this piece I had two markedly different days in radically different situations. The first was a family day out bringing the kids to the zoo. Definitely not a mountaineering epic, but it was one of those ‘soft’ days with the steady drizzle that’s a major pain in the neck for Irish hillwalkers and climbers. Too warm to wear a waterproof unless it’s with just a base-layer underneath and even then it can be still quite uncomfortable, trying to balance staying dry from the outside with venting the heat from the inside and all the time feeling a bit like a boil-in-the-bag meal! Anyhow, I just happened to be wearing a test jacket which did a remarkable job of keeping me dry without the clammy feeling you get even in some top-end waterproofs. The downside was that this particular jacket didn’t have a hood, something that I always harp on about in a softshell – how can it be an alternative to a full-on waterproof if it hasn’t got one? You can carry a hat of course, but it still doesn’t solve the problem and again can be too warm. At the opposite end of the spectrum was a trip to the Comeraghs to check out a scramble on a fantastic pinnacle in Coum Iarthar with a couple of friends. The plan was to park in the Nire valley car park, walk to the gap and then take a gently rising line into the Coum, climb the pinnacle and walk back out; all told about four hours max. We were to meet at 1pm and I checked the forecast; rain in the later part of the evening. Grand, says I and whipped out another softshell, reckoning it’d be an ideal test in a more teccie/mountaineering situation. To cut a long story short, things went brilliantly until we started to abseil off the pinnacle; first one rope stuck and then another. Then the drizzle arrived. After about two hours of retrieval attempts accompanied by much swearing, we decided to bail out and leave the second rope for another day. It was raining steadily by this stage and we had an hour or more trudging back to the car. By the halfway mark I was fairly wet and fully soaked through by the time we got to the car park. Lessons to self: Always expect at least one major cock-up per day, never travel sans hardshell and always carry abseil tat. Having said that, anytime the mountains give you a kick in the backside but everyone arrives home intact, is a good day out!

So the lesson is: Always carry a waterproof and put it on in good time. u There are a lot of softshells out there for lots of different situations, warmer/colder, drier/wetter. Pick the one that best suits your chosen method of getting your thrills. u It’s definitely a good idea to pick one with a decent mountain-type hood. u The usual rules regarding pockets apply – make sure you can get at them without interference from hipbelt/harness. u

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Softshell Jacket Tests Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody €115 / £95

OR’s Ferrosi is a hooded windshirt-type softshell with two hip pockets and a single chest pocket, all of which are zipped. It has a few nice touches like the slightly curved front zip which means no annoying zipper right in front of your chin. The Ferrosi is a combination of several fabrics; a Cordura/Lycra blend in high-wear areas and Nylon/ Spandex in the main body. Together these fabrics allow a full range of movement coupled with excellent durability, something not normally found in your bog-standard nylon windshirt. There are a few niggles however; the hip pockets are placed too low, right in the hipbelt/harness zone, an odd decision considering OR are touting this as a climber’s softshell. The hood’s good, especially under a helmet, but it doesn’t have the usual one-pull drawcords, another strange omission. Lastly, I’d like to see some way of cinching the cuffs tighter; these are elasticated but they tend to flop about on my skinny wrists. Apart from the pockets these are minor issues on an otherwise excellent top.

Rab Sawtooth €103 / £90

Weighing only 420g (men’s M), Rab’s Sawtooth is a lightweight softshell jacket, styled with climbers in mind with two massive napoleon-type pockets on the chest. These are great for putting everything bar your hands into, though some walkers may prefer the standard pocket. I don’t see this as major issue and you get used to it after a while. With a mesh lining they also double as vents, a good idea since the Sawtooth’s fabric has a very tight weave which is very effective at blocking the wind and retaining body heat for an unlined fabric. It’s also very shower resistant, a shame then that it hasn’t a hood, which would obviously make it even more versatile - maybe next year’s version? Other than that it was one of my favourite jackets tested and it works well even under a hardshell waterproof in really wet weather.

Montane Sabretooth €175 / £150

Made from Polartec’s Powershield fabric which claims to block 98% of the wind, the Sabretooth is another unlined jacket weighing 562g (men’s L). It has two large chest pockets and a hood with a wired peak. These pockets are well out of the harness area and are big enough to hold an OS map. The Sabretooth is quite a short jacket but it dips slightly at the front to prevent it riding up under a harness and it has the usual drop hem at the rear. The hood is excellent, turning with your head, plus the wired peak and one-pull drawcords mean you can wear the Sabretooth without a hardshell unless it’s really chucking it down. This jacket is really difficult to fault - maybe the fabric is a bit itchy over a short-sleeved baselayer, but apart from that it’s right on the money for a durable, user-friendly and almost all-weather windproof layer.

Sprayway Gist €145 / £124

One of the fleecier jackets tested, Sprayway’s Gist is an update of their old Crux design made from Gore’s Windstopper laminated fleece. It has the almost regulation three outer pockets (two hip, 1 chest), a smaller inner pocket, rollaway ‘emergency’ hood and drawcords at both hem and waist. The first thing I noticed was the weight; being a laminated fleece it’s quite heavy at 744g but it is a very warm jacket as well. Thankfully the pockets are placed above the hipbelt zone without looking uber-technical, which might put some people off. All the high-wear areas are Taslan reinforced - which probably adds to the overall weight - and there are stretchy panels under the arms too. I liked the Gist’s fit, having a waist drawcord helps in this regard and should also help with managing your body heat as well. The hood is a simple Pertex-type affair and while it might keep a breeze away it’s hardly a serious attempt at protecting your head from the elements. In the long run the Gist is more of a technical fleece principally designed for insulation rather than the weatherproofing that’s expected from a true softshell.

Result R120X Softshell Activity Jacket €37.30 £37.25

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Gear

No, it’s not a typo. That is the actual price for a winter weight (710g) fully-featured softshell jacket with 4 pockets (2 chest, 2 inner). It also has pit zips, a high microfleece lined collar and inner cuffs with thumb loops. The pockets are well above the hipbelt line and will take an OS map. A full microfleece lining no doubt adds weight but it also makes it supremely comfortable to wear. I especially liked the pit zips, these are mesh-backed so they don’t gape open and allow a gale to blow through. Definitely not as ‘Gucci’ as some of the other brands tested, but at this price who really cares? The R120X Softshell Activity Jacket (deserves a much sexier name!) will keep you toasty on winter days and should stand up to loads of abuse.

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Softshell Jacket Tests Berghaus Breton €165 / £140

A real winter weight softshell (661g) made of Gore Windstopper with three pockets, all placed well above the hipbelt zone and decently sized. The Breton has a full fleecy lining and a good hood; a pity that it wasn’t improved further by adding a stiffener to its peak. Reading through the accompanying bumpf, it says the cuffs have an inner stretchy cuff - mine doesn’t, but it may be a pre-production sample. The sleeves feel really loose as a result and certainly aren’t weatherproof. I really hope this is a one-off mistake because other than that the Breton’s a decent jacket - just check the cuffs before buying.

Snugpak Elite Proximity €85 / £70

Another new foray into the outdoor clothing market for Snugpak, their Elite Proximity jacket has a full hood and three pockets (two hips, one small sleeve). Its Aquabar outer fabric is microfleece lined for warmth, again this adds to the overall weight of about 600g for a men’s L. Surprisingly, the Proximity isn’t as warm as I expected, probably due to its looser cut. Pocketing isn’t great, the hip pockets lie under a sack’s hipbelt and I’m still not sure of what you would put in the one on the sleeve. The hip pockets also hide the hem drawcords, these are quite bulky, aren’t adjustable with one hand and very annoying. Lastly the Proximity’s arms seem a bit short, the inner cuffs cover the gap but it’s all a bit unsightly. The Aquabar fabric has good performance in terms of weatherproofing and durability but very little stretch, hence the looser cut methinks. I reckon it’s back to the drawing board for the Elite Proximity jacket, better luck next time Snugpak.

GoLite Post Canyon €95 / £80

Weighing a mere 315g for a men’s L, GoLite’s Post Canyon is an uninsulated windshirt intended for those days when your generating enough heat yourself and just need an extra windproof layer. I’ve used it for running and cycling and as a windshirt over a baselayer or light fleece; the thin fabric really excels in this role and feels good next-to-skin. The Post Canyon’s 3 pockets are all placed low and would be cover by a hipbelt/harness. This jacket is best used for high tempo activities or on spring/summer days when insulation isn’t an issue, but it’s fairly expensive for what you get.

The North Face Apex Bionic €120 / £100

Made from TNF’s own Apex softshell fabric, the Bionic has the usual three pockets (two hips, one chest). Due to its microfleece backing it feels great on, especially the high collar, and the Apex fabric does a good job of keeping the wind out whilst being quite breathable too. The lower pockets are big - the right hand one extends almost the full length of the Bionic’s front - but the zips are placed a bit low and while these aren’t impeded by a hipbelt you can’t get at the stuff at the bottom either. Heading towards the warmer end of the spectrum, the Bionic is probably better worn on cold days, a warm, weather-resistant outer layer that will still work well under a hardshell.

Rab Vapour-Rise Guide Jacket €160 / £140

Gear

A new ‘winterised’ version of Rab’s much liked Vapour-Rise (VR) jacket, the Guide has the standard Pertex Equilibrium outer but on the inside is a gridded Polartec Thermal Pro fleece liner. The grid pattern reduces the jacket’s weight and bulk (still weighs 840g though) while increasing the warmth/weight ratio. The liner covers most of the body, bar the back and inner arms where the normal VR lining is used for better ‘moisture management’; it also makes it easier to put on too. The concept is simple; wear it directly over a baselayer in cold weather, carrying a lightweight baselayer for when it’s really lashing rain. Considering you also have great pockets (three outer, two inner), a proper hood and pit zips, the VR Guide Jacket might be the next big step in the Pile/Pertex concept we’ve been banging on about for the last 20+ years. This time round, though, you’ve a more breathable outer fabric and a cut that doesn’t look as if it was cobbled together at someone’s kitchen table. It should be ideal for winter climbing or hillwalking in the hard winter they’re promising (please, please, pretty please.....). Think I’ll have to make Rab an offer/thinly veiled threat on this one!

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Softshell Jacket /Trouser Tests Craghoppers Vector €60 / £52

Described by Craghoppers as ‘a fleece that has the appearance of a softshell’, so I’m not quite sure whether this is should be included in this review at all - the Vector certainly feels like a fleece but is more wind-resistant. It has the standard two hip and a single chest pocket with reinforced patches at the shoulders. The chest pocket has a ‘media port’ for the iPod generation - a little hole for running your earphones through, so you’re never without your sounds, this jacket is designed as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award range. Annoyingly, the hip pockets lie right under a hipbelt; this is a shame because I really liked this jacket. Whether it’s a fleece or not, it’s a good balance between weight and warmth for carrying almost all year round.

Mammut Ultimate Hoody €200 / £175

Another Gore Windstopper jacket but lighter (480g men’s L) than the other’s tested, Mammut’s Ultimate Hoody (UH) feels roughly equivalent to wearing a 200 weight fleece top. It has one inner and two hip pockets and obviously enough, a hood! The hood has single-pull drawcords and while it isn’t big enough to wear over a helmet, I found it a decent fit but would have loved it if it had a wired peak. The UH has pit zips running from the hem to just above the elbow; this makes it very easy to regulate your body heat and the cuffs also have thumb loops to help keep your hands warm. Now the bad news - why are the pockets right under a hipbelt? Mammut are a brand with a real mountaineering pedigree and this has really marred what is otherwise a bang-on jacket. Added to this, the price is at the upper end of the range and there are better all-round jackets for less money. If Mammut were to shift the pockets this would significantly change my opinion.\

Softshell Trouser Tests If there’s one area of clothing where softshell has really come through in terms of performance, it’s trousers. Softshell fabrics offer excellent levels of durability and weather proofing for the legs, especially if like me you tend to avoid putting on overtrousers until you absolutely have to. All the usual criteria apply, but as far as I can see the thing that really sets a good pair of mountain trousers apart from the rest is fit. Look for a high back to stop your baselayers from riding up and a neat but not restrictive fit along the leg.

Regatta Geo €60 / £50

A good stretchy trouser, perhaps a bit broad in the leg but they can be tightened at the hems by means of a set of pop fasteners. The pockets are fairly standard - 2 front, 1 rear - and all are zipped. Like a lot of softshell pants these are a bit warm for wearing in the summer months but great for the rest of the year and good value for your money.

Rab Sawtooth Pant €85 / £70

Gear

One of Rab’s lightest softshell trousers, the Sawtooths are suitable for walking during the summer and right through year in all but the harshest conditions. They have good pockets - two front, two thigh - and both thigh pockets will hold an OS map or guidebook. Fit is excellent, neat without being restrictive and the stretchy fabric allows a full range of movement, they look good with gaiters too. So far durability hasn’t been a problem and the crampon patches will help to protect the inside lower leg where a lot of damage happens. The hems have a drawcord closure which is handy for keeping ticks etc. at bay. Rab recommend them as a summer trouser but I could see myself wearing them almost all year round.

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Softshell Jacket /Trouser Tests Rab Vapour-Rise Guide Pant €120 / £100

These are the matching pants to the jacket bearing the same name, obviously they’re intended for winter use only. Rather than a Thermal Pro fleece lining which would be way too warm, they use the standard VR liner instead. Thigh vents give you the chance to let heat escape should you get too hot, these are mesh-backed so they won’t gape when open. As expected from a winter pant they have extensive crampon patches plus stretchy panels across the knees and bum to both protect and make movement easier. The waistband has both belt loops and tabs for braces so there’s very little chance of things ‘heading south’. Make sure to get an accurate forecast before heading out with the VR Guide pants on - get it wrong and you’ll bake, even with the vents open. All in all, an excellent option for real winter use and not too expensive for what you’re getting either.

Berghaus Borazon ll Pant €85 / £70

Designed for use throughout most of the year except the summer, Berghaus’ Borazon ll pants aren’t insulated but the fabric is water-resistant and windproof enough for most conditions except persistent rain. For warmer days they’ve discreet vents at the thighs, mesh-backed so you don’t have to worry about exposing those milk bottles that pass for legs! The fabric is quite stretchy and has proven itself to be durable despite some gnarly scrambling days over the last few months. I’d have preferred a neater fit, they can look a bit bloomerish if you’re wearing gaiters, but this probably isn’t an issue to everyone else. With three pockets (two front, one rear) the Borazon ll are a stylish pair of trousers and good value at this price.

Result Tech Performance Trousers £40.72

A very teccie-looking trouser with a welded pocket on the right thigh, these Result trousers have a waterproof outer fabric (5000mm hydrostatic head), though like all softshell garments they’ll eventually let water seep in along the seams. The fabric has a compressed microfleece backing; don’t be tempted to wear them on warmer days or you’ll suffer the consequences - the only venting is via the mesh-lined front pockets. The cut is generous, this makes them balloon if you wear gaiters, though you could get them altered if this is a problem. Again like the Result jacket tested, these trousers really score in terms of value for money - they’re very durable and would also be suitable as skiwear.

Mammut Bask Pant €120 / £100

First up, these are the only pants tested that came supplied with a belt - score one for Mammut! The Basks have six pockets (two front, two rear, two thigh), all of which are mesh lined so they’ll double as vents in extremis. Considering they’re a reasonably light 590g, Mammut say they’re suitable for our winter conditions and the fabric is both windproof and water-repellent. Fit is fairly generous, the hems can be adjusted by pop fasteners, but if they were mine I’d be making a visit to a good seamstress. Overall, performance was good; the fabric is stretchy and both knees and bum are reinforced, which suits my climbing style. I’d have liked to see a crampon patch at the ankles though, before I’d deem them winter-proof. They do seem a bit pricey, considering what you get for similar money elsewhere.

Sprayway All Day Rainpant €85 / £70

Gear

Not really a softshell in the truest sense, more like a waterproof trouser made from a stretchy version of Sprayway’s HydroDry fabric with a separate drop liner. The outer fabric has a 5000mm hydrostatic head and is both breathable and fully taped, putting them somewhere in the no-man’s-land between softshell and traditional waterproof trousers. They’re noticeably clammier than a softshell but not as bad as an overtrouser and they should keep you dry longer than a softshell. On the downside they are a fairly baggy fit and wearing gaiters causes a bit of a quandary - do you wear the gaiters over the top and have the rain run down the legs and be funnelled inside, or wear them underneath and chance having water wicked upwards along the liner? Perhaps the best solution is to only wear them on low level walks where it won’t really matter. Prices are for guidance only

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Sliabh Greine Loop Co. Kilkenny Slieve Foye Loop Co Louth

A selection of 6 looped walks throughout Ireland

Aylmer Loop Co. Kildare

Ranging from easy, level strolls to more challenging mountain trails.

Inishowen Head Loop Co. Donegal

Go to www.discoverireland.ie/walking (www.discoverireland.com from outside Ireland) for over 170 walks, including downloadable maps, useful links and details of walking events in Ireland.

Children of Lir Loop Co. Mayo Errinagh Bridge Loop Co. Clare


Sliabh Greine Loop Co Kilkenny

This loop is the shorter of two developed on the hill through the Trail Kilkenny Programme. A-B. Starting from the car park, enter Carrickinane Woods through a metal barrier. Follow the green (and purple) arrows along the forestry track for 500m to reach a downhill track on the left. This is the point from which the loop ‘proper’ begins and to which you will return on your homeward journey. Continue straight ahead. Trailhead 34 Loop 34a

Sliabh Greine Loop

B-C. Continue to follow the green and purple arrows – ascending gently along the forest roadway for a further 1.5km to reach a left bend near the top of Tory Hill. The more challenging Tory Hill Loop (purple arrows) turns left here onto a grassy path heading to the summit. You stay on the forest roadway following the green arrows. C-D. After 200m you reach a Y-junction where you veer left and, after 500m reach the end of the forestry road at large concrete foundations. These were put in place for masts that were proposed at this site some time ago but were not erected. You rejoin the purple loop here as it descends from the summit of Tory Hill and turn right onto a grassy downhill track. D-A. Follow the grassy track downhill and turn left when it joins a forestry track. After another 200m you rejoin the forestry road you left on your outward journey (see B above). Turn right here – it’s only 500m to the trailhead

Ascent: 120m Distance: 4km Estimated Time: 1hr-1hr30mins Grade: Easy Minimum Gear: Walking boots, raingear, and fluid Services: Mullinavat (3km) Terrain: Forestry tracks and woodland trails Theme: Nature Trailhead: Car park at Tory Hill, Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny OS Sheet 76, S586 227

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Slieve Foye Loop Co Louth

C-D. Continue to follow the blue and red arrows for 300m to reach a bend in a grassy roadway where you rejoin the Tain Way. The red loop turns right here - but you veer left and downhill. Follow the grassy roadway for 500m to reach a wooden gate - pass through it and follow the arrows to the left. The loop now sweeps downhill and right and, after 500m, joins a surfaced roadway. Here you rejoin the Barnavave Loop and turn left and downhill. D-A. The loop takes you down to the parish church on the outskirts of the village and then turns left and back to the village square. It’s only 100m from there to the trailhead. A-B. From the car park turn left and follow the blue (and green and red) arrows along the road to a T-junction where you turn left. The green arrows are for the shorter Commons Loop, the red for the longer Barnavave Loop. Entering the village ‘square’ turn right and ascend to the main junction where you proceed staright on to the right of Savages Victuallers. Continue to follow the green, blue and red arrows (and the yellow arrows which are for the long-distance Tain Way) as the loop takes you to the top of River Road. The green loop goes straight ahead here - but you turn right onto a sandy roadway. B-C. Follow the blue, red and yellow arrows along the roadway past gates and into forestry. The loop travels through the forestry for more than 1km before reaching a forestry track (on the left) where the two loops turn left and leave the Tain Way. Now you ascend gently to reach the edge of forestry and a 20m climb takes you to a stile over a wire fence. Cross the stile, turn left, and follow the wire fence for 1km to reach the end of the forestry. Veer right here.

Ascent: 270m/280m Distance: 8km / 2hr30mins - 3hrs Grade: Moderate - Average levels of fitness Services: Carlingford Minimum Gear: Hiking boots, raingear, snack, fluid Terrain: Minor roads, laneways, hillside tracks Trailhead: Tourist Office carpark, Carlingford, Co Louth

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Aylmer Loop

Co. Kildare

The name Donadea derives from the Irish word ‘Domnach’ which signifies a church and also Sunday. It is believed that all churches bearing this name were founded by St. Patrick, and the foundations were marked out on a Sunday. One of the earliest references of the manor of Donadea was in connection with an inquisition taken in Cloncurry in 1312 – and in 1621, King James I created Gerald the first Baronet of Donadea! By the mid 1800’s the Donadea estates were one of the largest in Co. Kildare, amounting to almost 16,000 acres. It was around this time that extensive development occurred in the grounds surrounding the castle. The works included the construction of a stone wall surrounding almost 600 acres, the development of an artificial lake, a massive programme of tree planting within the demesne and the realignment of existing roads. In 1936 the Irish land commission acquired the lands of Donadea from the Aylmer estate. In 1981 Donadea Demesne was opened to the public and the estate is at present under the care and maintenance of Coillte (the Irish Forestry Board). This loop is one of a network of forestry trails created by Coillte as part of its Coillte Outdoors Programme. It meanders along forest roads and paths incorporating Lime Tree Avenue, and the 9/11 Memorial. A-B. Starting from the first car park, enter the forestry at a wooden framed mapboard for a Sli na Slainte route. Follow the arrows on the blue disc with footprints ((and the Sli na Slainte arrows) along the forestry road for 300m to reach a T-junction where you turn right.

wooden Nature Point posts). Shortly afterwards the loop turns right at a 4-way junction. E-A. Follow the forest road as it passes through the USA Plots area. After passing a stone memorial to the Firefighters of New York killed in the 9/11 disaster, the loop turns right and emerges into a popular recreation area that contains a lake, cafe, and the ruins of Donadea Castle. The car park from which you started is only 200m from the castle. Ascent: 80m/10m

B-C. Another 150m takes you to a 3-way junction where you veer left and cross a small stream by a small concrete bridge. Continue to follow the arrows on the blue discs along the forestry road for 500m to reach a crossroads with wooden signpost. Continue straight on.

Distance: 6km

C-D. Staying on the forestry road, the loop passes a number of tracks on the left before climbing gently to reach a roadway on the left on a bend. Veer right (straight) here and past a track on your right. After 250m the loop swings right and 500m further on passes straight through a crossroads. D-E. The loop passes through a number of junctions – and at one of them merges with a Nature Trail (marked with yellow arrows and

Services: Kildare.

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Estimated Time: 1hr 30mins Grade: Easy Minimum Gear: Trekking shoes, raingear, fluid. Terrain: Woodland trails. Trailhead: Donadea Forest Recreation Area, Donadea, Co. Kildare. OS Sheet 49, N 838 332.


Inishowen Head Loop Co. Donegal

1km, you reach the highest point of your walk on the shoulder of Crocknasmug. D-E. Continue to follow the bog roads downhill and look ahead for the now disused farmstead of Johnny Glenanes perched on the side of Glenane Hill – it is the only sign of inhabitation on this most remote section of your walk. Pass two junctions with laneways – both on your left. E-F. The loop now sweeps right (eastward) and takes you back towards the east coast of Inishowen Head. As you travel you are treated to wonderful coastal scenery and a view over Portkill (marked by a plaque on the left of the roadway). F-A. Along the final 500m back to the trailhead, there is another opportunity to view the wonderful scenery from a viewing point atop the cliffs.

Trailhead 23 Loop 23

Inishowen Head Loop

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C-D. Follow the laneways and bog roads for over 1km to reach a Tjunction where you turn right, continuing to ascend. After a further

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B-C. Follow the R241 for approximately 500m (passing New Road on your right) to reach Carrowtrasna Road where you turn right and begin the ascent onto the shoulder of Crocknasmug via laneways and bog roads.

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A-B. Starting from the car park at Inishowen Head, follow the purple arrow downhill. Straight ahead of you is the prominent Stroove lighthouse. Pass a laneway on your right and reach a 3-way junction with the R241 where you turn right.

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The ancient territory (The Land of the O’Dohertys), of County Donegal is the most northerly part of Ireland. Its northern shore is on the restless Atlantic Ocean with Lough Swilly forming its western boundary and Lough Foyle to the east. Monuments of an earlier age grow from the landscape as castles, towers and ancient churches. The Celtic crosses and the pagan monuments come together in a colourful tapestry with these great houses of the last century. The Inishowen Peninsula possesses such a range of sights and attractions that is often referred to as ‘Ireland in Miniature’. This is the undiscovered Ireland, a world apart, a timeless place. The nature of the scenery, combined with outdoor sporting facilities, provide the ideal base for an activity holiday. This loop starts at a car park area at a World War 2 Lookout Tower atop Inishowen Head. On this wild and remote loop you pass the point from where St Columba left Ireland on his way to Iona (Portkill) and a viewing point from where, on some fine days, the west of Scotland is visible.

Ascent: 250m Distance: 8km Estimated Time: 2hrs - 2.5hrs Grade: Moderate Minimum Gear: Hiking boots, raingear, fluid. Services: Stroove (2km), Greencastle (5km), Moville (12km) Theme: Coastal Terrain: Bog roads, laneways, rough tracks and minor roads Trailhead: Inishowen, Stroove, Co Donegal Map Ref: OS Sheet 3, C683 4371

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Children of Lir Loop Co. Mayo

The north coast of Mayo is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets with many of its majestic cliffs, rugged headlands, rocky coves and jagged stacks apparent only to those who leave the main thoroughfares to discover them. The Dun Chaocháin area is one of great physical beauty and has retained many of its traditions and culture. The Dun Chaochain cliffs have featured in various walking guidebooks including Lonely Planet and Benwee Head at 255m is the crowning glory. The Stags of Broadhaven (a group of four precipitous rocky islets rising to almost 100m) are located about 2km north of Benwee Head and are of ornithological importance. The key feature of this loop is the Children of Lir sculpture - one of a series from the Spirit of Place Sculpture Trail which centres on culturallydistinct, historic, unspoiled and isolated regions around the world. The legend of The Children of Lir tells the tale of children who were turned into swans and condemned to wander the countryside for 900 years, 300 of these were spent on the north Mayo Island, Inishglora. A-B. Starting from the car park at the Seanscoil (old school) follow the blue arrow (and green and red arrows) along Bothair an Iochtair. The green arrows are for a shorter loop walk which will leave your loop as you progress. The red arrows are for the longer Black Ditch Loop which you will leave after visiting the Children of Lir monument. Continue to follow the blue arrows downhill, onto a sandy roadway and to a junction with a tarred roadway. To your left is Binroe Point – you turn right here. B-C. Follow the tarred roadway uphill for approximately 200m before turning left at a wire fence – note that the shorter green loop continues along the roadway here. C-D. After leaving the roadway follow a track along fences and through gates to join the black ditch. Follow this feature (which probably marked the boundaries of lands in times past) parallel to the shoreline and then uphill onto the clifftop at Alt Breac. D-E. Leaving Alt Breac the loop follows the clifftop via Bun a Ghleanna, An Lair Bhan, and Lag Fliuch to reach the Children of Lir monument at An Priosuin (the Prison). E-F. From here follow the blue arrows along Bothair na Priosuin

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– noting that the longer Black Ditch Loop leaves on your left and continues uphill towards Benwee. After approximately 1km you turn left at a road junction and rejoin the green loop. F-A. Enjoy the 2km back through Stonefield to the trailhead – rejoining the red loop on the way. Ascent: 180m Distance: 10km Grade: Moderate Minimum Gear: Hiking boots, raingear, snack, fluid Estimated time: 2- 5hrs Services: Carrowteige Village, Belmullet (17km) Terrain: Laneways, grassy racks, bog roads Theme: Coastal Trailhead: Carrowteige Village, Co Mayo Map Ref: OS 22 F821 420


Errinagh Bridge Loop Co. Clare

The village of O’Briensbridge stands on the eastern verge of Co. Clare, on the right bank of the river Shannon – the longest river in Ireland. The bridge which gives its name to the village stands across the Shannon, and has at its east end, in Co. Limerick, the village of Montpelier. The section of the river downstream from O’Brien’s bridge is noted for angling and watersports. Upstream at Parteen the flow of the Shannon is diverted into a man-made canal (called the Shannon Headrace) for a hydroelectric station at Ardnacrusha. The Errinagh Canal was built to allow navigation of boats and barges to the City of Limerick . Today, the canal is being developed as a recreational amenity (fishing, watersports, etc) – the loop uses what was the towpath for horses as they pulled barges along the waterway in previous times. A-B. Starting from the riverside car park, follow the pathway along the River Shannon away from the village. You are following the blue arrows on the waymarkers, but there are also red arrows (for the longer Old Barge Loop) and the yellow arrows of the Lough Derg Way (a long-distance walking route which goes from Limerick City to Killaloe). The pathway soon enters an area of natural woodland along the bank of the river - this was the old towpath. After 1km the route swings right as you join the Errinagh Canal. B-C. Continue to follow the sandy path along the bank of the canal to reach Errinagh Bridge. Go under the bridge, and on your exit, climb the embankment where you will turn right following the blue arrow. Notice that you leave the Lough Derg Way at this point. You also leave the red loop as it turns left towards the village of Clonlara. C-D. Follow the blue arrows onto a tarred roadway. Turn left and almost immediately turn left via a gateway/stile into a field and onto the embankment of the Shannon Headrace, where you rejoin the red loop on its return from Clonlara. Turn right on top of the embankment. D-E. Follow the right bank of the headrace for almost 2km to exit via a stile at the end of forestry and onto a roadway. Continue straight here. E-F. After 300m enter the village again, turning right as you join the tarred road. F-A. Follow the road through the village – enjoying the 200m back to the trailhead.

Ascent: 10m Distance: 7km Estimated Time: 1hr30mins - 2hrs Grade: easy Minimum Gear: Hiking boots, raingear, and fluid Services: O’Brien’s Bridge Valley Terrain: Riverbank and towpaths Theme: Nature Trailhead: O’Brien’s Bridge, Co Clare Map Ref: OS 58 R947 081

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Timing & Pacing

Andy Callan took his time and kept the pace. Part Four of our series on navigation skills looks at how long it takes from A-B.

O

riginally developed by William Naismith back in 1892 and much beloved of scoutmasters and those of a similar ilk ever since, Naismith’s Rule is a handy ready-reckoner for helping walkers calculate the time to walk in a straight line from A to B. The rule has two separate sections - one for distance travelled and the other for height gained. The basic rule states: Allow one hour for every three miles forward and half an hour for every 1000ft of ascent. Brilliantly simple to the point of genius, the rule still holds despite our move to metric maps – 5 kilometres being just a shade over 3 miles and 1000ft is as close to 300m as makes no difference. So far all this is nice and easy but there are a couple of questions to consider. How rough is the ground you’re crossing? Are you carrying a heavy pack? How good/bad is the weather? How fit are you and everyone else in your group? You can only travel at the speed of the slowest walker. All of the above will affect your walking speed and there have been

various methods suggested to allow you adapt Naismith’s rule to your own performance level on any given day. The best known of these are ‘Tranter’s variations’ which measure how quickly you gain a given height of 300m in 800m distance. I’ve found this way too complicated to be practical and in any case it only relates to the individual rather than a group. In reality, 5kph is a very decent speed and is about the average for most adult walkers. If over the first few legs you haven’t achieved it, well; no matter. Have a look at the next leg and work out how long it should take at slower speeds i.e. 3 and 4 kph. Whatever speed you travel at, the method remains the same. Divide the number of kph into 60mins to get the time taken for 1km and then divide that further for 500m (1/2 km) and 100m (1/10km). When that’s done you can recalculate the times for the next few legs to get a feel for your actual speed. Better still, draw up your own table with the various speeds/ distances/times already worked out in the comfort of your own home. Your Naismith’s rule table should look something like this:

Distance

Speed in Kilometres per hour

Travelled

6kph 5kph* 4kph 3kph 2kph

1km(1000m)

10min

12min

15min

20min

30min

500m 5min 6min 7.5min 10min 15.0min 400m 4min 4.8min 6.0min 8.0min 12.0min 300m 3min 3.6min 4.5min 6.0min 9.0min 200m 2min 2.4min 3.0min 4.0min 6.0min 100m 1min 1.2min 1.5min 2min 3min *Some may find it easier to round the 5kph figure to the nearest ¼ min. For example, 100m would then be 1.25min On top of all this, don’t forget to allow for height gained – 30mins per 300m of ascent, height lost is usually considered as flat ground. Only very steep slopes

would have any affect on time taken, normally allowing an extra minute per 30m descent, that’s 1 minute added for every minute per 3 contour intervals on an O.S map.

Height Gained

Time Added

map – other maps may differ.

300m

30min

Figure calculated by counting

100m

10min

contour intervals (gaps between

10m

1min

contours!) between points on map.

*Contour interval on standard O.S

I can’t stress enough that the figures above relate to height gained only

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Putting it all together then means measuring the distance on the map and figuring out the time taken at whatever speed you reckon you’re travelling at. Then count the contour intervals (gaps only!)

between you and the target and again converting that into a time, then add the two times together and you have your total time. For instance :

800m with 40m of ascent Distance– 800m @ 1.2 min per 100m = 9.6min Height Gained - 40m @ 1 min per 10m = 4.0min Total Time 13.6min Rounded to nearest ¼ min 13.5min 1600m distance + 75m Ascent Distance– 1000m = 1km = 12.0mins 600m = 6 x 1.2mins = 7.2mins Distance Time 19.2mins Height Gained- 75m ÷ 10 (1min per 10m) = 7.5mins Total Time 26.7mins Rounded to the nearest ¼ min = 26.75mins

Timing by Naismith’s formula is as accurate as you make it. If you know how fast you’re travelling, measure your distances correctly and have a decent watch with a stopwatch or even your mobile phone which you start and stop as you walk then things should go swimmingly. It is a formula though and you will need to adapt it to suit yourself. I for instance reckon 5kph is my average speed, borne out by years of timing myself over flat or gentle downhill

legs. But I gain height at a faster rate than 1 min per 10m (as do most averagely fit walkers I suspect), so I use ¾ min per10m and find it much more accurate. I still use the 1 min rate for planning purposes though, knowing that if I’ve walked that time I should have walked over my target feature but expecting to reach it in ¾ of the height time.

Examples All calculated @5kph A-B Measured as 18mm on map = 900m plus 20 Contour Intervals(C.I.) 900m @ 1.2 min per 100m (9x1.2) = 10.8 min 20 C.I. @ 1 min each (20x1) = 20 min Total Time 38.8 min, rounded to 38.75 min C-D Measured as 25mm on map = 1250m plus 8 C.I. 1250m @ 1.2 min per 100m (12.5x 1.2) =15 min 8 C.I. @ 1 min each =8 Total Time 23 min E-G Measured as 24mm on map = 1200m, downhill leg so no height gain 1200m @ 1.2 min per 100m (12x1.2)= 14.4 min, rounded to14.5 min Homework! Use Naismith’s formula to estimate the time needed to cover these legs: E-F, F-E, E-D Answers on p9

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Pacing Considerably more accurate as a technique than timing, pacing is all about knowing the average number of double paces you take per 100m over a variety of slope angles. For example my base rate per 100m is 60 double paces on a good track going up to about 120 double paces in deep soft snow for the same distance. The only way to figure this out accurately is by practice, accurately measuring the distance between 2 fixed points, counting your total number of double paces and dividing the answer by the number of 100m blocks travelled. Try this a few times going up, down and traversing across the slope, so you get an average pace count that you can then relate to each type of slope. In real life I tend to up my pace count dependent on how hard I find it to get up a slope, the leg being broken into 100m blocks and adjusting the pace count for each one as it gets steeper or flattens out.

Pacing Tips Start off by counting every 2nd step – if you start on your left foot then count every time your right hits the ground. Don’t be tempted to say “It’s a 400m leg, so it’ll be 240 double paces”. Slopes will invariably change during the leg so you may have to adjust your count as you travel, making your estimate much more accurate. It’s much easier to lose track counting a larger number too. Get a set of beads or toggles to use as counters (see photo) when you reach the end of each 100m move a bead – just like an abacus! It’s unlikely you’ll be pacing for distances over 1km, so my counter is split into 9 beads for 100m sections with another 3 or 4 beads for counting kilometres. What happens when you lose count – and you will! Should you try you doing what I’ve advised you not to do in point 2 then you’re in serious trouble, unless your mate has been counting with you. If you use a bead counter like I’ve suggested, well then the worst that can happen is you’ll lose track within a 100m block. This is no big deal, just restart from the 50m mark and you should be no more than this over or under at your target feature. When you’ve figured out your average pace count per 100m, round it to the nearest five and then as the slopes get steeper increase it in increments of five depending on how you think you’re going. So a 400m leg could end up as 1x65, 1x75, 1x80, 1x65, for example. Most important of all – practice regularly!

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Crossword by Zodrick

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CLUES ACROSS 2

Traditional flat-bottomed boats, cost a Scot a fortune! (4)

4

Horizontal part on bike - for carrying the mot! (8)

9

Between Loughs Carra and Mask in Mayo (6)

10 Projection - extends beyond something else in climbing (8) 12 Co Donegal’s Lough ___ 53k north of Sligo (8) 13 Struck with fear or dread (6) 15 Journey on foot, especially in mountains (4) 16 Would a beau snivel here at 444m in the Blackstairs (10) 19 Eat a bagel lunch here at 632m in Connemara (10) 20 Close friend (4) 23 No ball games here at Lough ___ below Muckish Mtn in Donegal (6) 25 Overlooks Lough Muskry at 802m in the Galty Mtns (8) 27 Cove and castle in Roaringwater Bay (8) 28 Assimilate or soak up (6) 29 There’s a loamy yew tree by this Antrim walk (5,3) 30 Ardnakinna lighthouse is on this, An tOileán Mór, off Co Cork

CLUES DOWN

Name ......................................................................................................... Address ..................................................................................................... .................................................................................................................. .............................................................Tel: ..............................................

1

Bituminous substance used with sand or gravel in paving (7)

2

Glen and river in the Slieve Mish Mtns below Baurtregaum (9)

3

Parsimonious pink flower of mountains and coast (6)

5

Rant at this all-night party (4)

6

In the Reeks, it stands close to its big brother, Skregmore (8)

7

Dursey Island lies off this S.W. peninsula (5)

8

In summer, only wear a thin rag on ___ More or ___ Beg! (7)

11 Mayo village of General Humbert and The Year of the French fame (7) 14 There’s a gem born on this blue peak in Co Mayo (3,4) 17 There’s ham galore on this 584m summit in the Derryveagh Mtns (5,4) 18 Sounds like a naive sea-bird! (8)

Email ............................................................... Boot Size: .....................

19 It’s a 526m curved peak, upstream from the Silent Valley reservoir (3,4)

Post your entry to: Brasher Boot Crossword Competition, Walking World Ireland, ‘Edelweiss’, Cushina, Portarlington, Co Laois.

21 At only 356m in the Glendowan Mtns, it’s a bit of a gombeen hill! (7)

A photocopy is acceptable. No faxed or emailed entries. One entry per family. Closing date: November 28. No cash substitute for prizes.

24 Shaggy - ungroomed (5)

66 WWI 104

22 Small, smooth, rounded stone - daughter of Fred & Wilma (6)

26 Mineral which crystallises into thin leaves (4)

Walking World Ireland  

Issue 104, October/November 2011

Walking World Ireland  

Issue 104, October/November 2011

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