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Walk On WALKING - or at least the specifically upright form of it that we as humans specialise in - is fundamental to our identity. People who can’t walk deserve, if wanted, our help and sympathy. People who avoid walking may be taking a risk. Recently I spotted a member of Dublin Airport’s security staff using one of those Segway devices (variously descibed as electric scooter or personal transporter) to get around the endless walkways of the terminal building. I’m a technophile; I love gadgets and toys, but one obscure object I never desired was the Sinclair C5 and however revolutionary the Segway’s technology, the two are first cousins as far as I’m concerned. Security Man looked neither comfortable nor fast, and anything but cool. Strangely, although a man in a car looks like a man in a car, a man on a Segway looks like a robot, precursor of an unwelcome future in which walking has become an onerous burden, or perhaps just a leisure activity. I say ‘just’ because although as ‘walkers’ we celebrate an activity that enhances our lifestyle, health and general well-being, it’s more important than that. It’s our core activity, and without it things are going to get very strange. Walk for pleasure whenever possible, but walk for survival, always.

Editor: Conor O’Hagan Consultant Editor: Martin Joyce Design: Grand Designs Technical Consultant: Andy Callan Environmental Consultant: Dick Warner Maps: EastWest Mapping Contributors: Judy Armstrong, Gavin Bate, Andy Callan, Keith Collie, Zoe Devlin, Damien Enright, Helen Fairbairn, Michael Fewer, Denis Gill, Tom Hutton, Gareth McCormack, Simon Stewart, Paul Tempan, Dick Warner Photographers: Judy Armstrong, Eoin Clarke, Damien Enright, Tom Hutton, Gareth McCormack, Richard Mills Published by: Athletic Promotions Limited, ‘Edelweiss’, Cushina, Portarlington, Co Laois. Tel: 05786 45343 Email: walkingworldirl@iol.ie ISSN No. 0791-8801 Printed by: W&G Baird Ltd Distributed by: EM News Distribution and Mailbag Cover photo: Alpine Rhododendron and the Mont Blanc massif reflected in Lac des Cheserys. Photo by Gareth McCormack


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Contents

Issue 97, July/August 2010

18

On The Cover 14

Sandwood Bay

32

Tour of Mont Blanc

50

It’s Only Natural

52

Lost in Translation

At the north-western tip of Britain, Judy Armstrong discovers perfect beaches, perfect weather and a perfect welcome for walkers.

Helen Fairbairn visited three countries and tackled numerous alpine passes to complete the most popular long-distance walk in Europe.

Why do we appreciate nature? Dick Warner explains what would seem to be a waste of (evolutionary) time.

32

The origins of the names we give our mountains are not always as obvious as we think, says Paul Tempan

Routes 18

Connacht: Benwiskin

22

Leinster: Lugnaquilla from the East

Helen Fairbairn rediscovers this previously inaccessible peak in Sligo’s Dartry Mountains.

Denis Gill suggests an alternative approach to Leinster’s highest summit.

26

Ulster: Slieve Beagh

28

Munster: Derrynane

The rolling moorland around Slieve Beagh lays down a challenge to even experienced walkers, as Gareth McCormack found out.

Helen Fairbairn samples some of the finest coastal walking to be found on the Ring of Kerry.

Gear 38

Rich Canvas

If there’s one thing better than a day on the hills, it’s a night on the hills. Andy Callan talks a lot of sense. Sorry, that’s tents. And stoves, too.

50

28


WIN! A Target Dry Pioneer jacket worth €120 See Page 62

The Best of Ireland and the World On Foot

22

Looped Walks West Cork Special A selection of 12 looped walks in West Cork, from easy strolls to challenging treks. Sheeps Head Loops Barán Loop Seefin Loop Glanlough Loop Ardnakinna Loop

14

38

Rerrin Loop Pulleen Loop Dursey Island Loop Garinish Loop Creha Quay Loop Dunboy Woods Loop Bullig Bay Loop

56 56 57 57 58 58 59 59 60 60 61 61

Regulars 8

News

12

By The Way

54

Subscription Offer

60

Crossword by Zodrick

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

Michael Fewer is impressed by the National Looped Walks Network.

Subscribe to Ireland’s No.1 Outdoor Magazine at 22% off the normal price!

15 of Target Dry’s new Pioneer jackets to be won! 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.


News

Hendroff’s Mountain Journey in Print

Adrian Hendroff, one of the few individuals in the country to have completed all 268 Irish summits over 600m based on the Vandeleur-Lynam list, is set to release his first book later this year. Entitled, From High Places: A Journey Through Ireland’s Great Mountains, the book is a collection of stunning images taken from Ireland’s high places from the quartzite giants of Connemara to the towering peaks of Kerry. In addition to these images, the author describes his own unique experiences exploring these mountain

areas and interweaves them with an account of the local history, folklore and geology. Adrian, a qualified Mountain Leader, has regularly contributed to Irish Mountain Log magazine of Mountaineering Ireland. His articles have also appeared in TGO Magazine and The Irish Times Go. “Ireland’s mountains wild and untrodden, a treasure chest just waiting to be discovered” he says. “There is a powerful and magnetic quality to be experienced there, always drawing me back. The book is a celebration of our mountains

and my hope is that more people, local and foreign, will set out and explore them.” Adrian has also explored mountain ranges in Scotland, Wales, England, Romania and Iceland, along with the Alps and the Dolomites, but he thinks of the Irish mountains as home. From High Places: A Journey Through Ireland’s Great Mountains published by The History Press Ltd (Paperback – release 30 October 2010)

New Discoveries in Phoenix Park

Ordnance Survey Ireland have launched the new Discovery Series of Maps, updating the series that has become the essential guide to Irelands natural landscape for outdoor activity enthusiasts including ramblers, hill walkers and tourists. In producing this new range of maps, OSi say they consulted widely with groups and associations representing outdoor pursuits including the Irish Mountain Rescue Association, the Irish Ramblers Club, the Walkers Association of Ireland, Scouting Ireland, and the National Parks & Wildlife Service. Geraldine Ruane, Chief Executive of OSi said: ‘We wanted to ensure that our Discovery Series included every feature and detail that these organisations would need in our maps. The Discovery Series is our most popular map series and we always pleased with the fantastic feedback we receive from our customers. Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland tell us that the Discovery Series plays an important role in attracting tourists to visit Ireland’. Slieve Maan Firebreak OSi also showcased their extensive range of digital mapping technology which is provided From Robert Grandon (Chairperson Mountain to a wide range of Corporate, Government and SME customers. Details of OSi mapping Meitheal) technology can be seen on the Denis Gill gave a description of a walk taking OSi website www.osi.ie in Fananerin recently in Walking World Ireland South- East Ireland’s best kept secret Everest veteran Pat Falvey (WWI 95, March/April 2010). Part of the route Outstanding looped  Mountain & Forest walks all included a boggy fire break on Slieve Maan requir- gave a talk entitled ‘From from the door step of your B+B ranging from 3 to Carrantuohill to Everest’, ing diverting into the forest. On the weekend 9 miles. One hour from Dublin, ten minutes to the Wicklow underlined the importance 26th/27th of June, Mountain Meitheal put in a Way, set down and pick up by arrangement. of accurate and high quality bogbridge on this firebreak. This is amore durable www.walkingholidaysandshortbreaks.com  feature and will allow walkers enjoy this stretch and mapping in ensuring safe T: 00353 (0) 872724586 email colferw@aol.com navigation in wilderness areas. allow the surface to recover.

8

BInt-Walk


Leave Room at the Inn!

Affjordable Heaven for Hillwalkers Norway is currently promoting itself as heaven for hillwalkers and nowhere more so than the mountain village of Geilo. One of only five designated ‘National Park Villages’ in Norway, it is easily accessible from Oslo via coach or the beautiful Bergen Railway. Geilo nestles beneath Hardangervidda, Northern Europe’s largest high mountain plateau and a National Park.The great polar explorer, Roald Amundsen, used Hardangervidda to train for his many expeditions. There is an abundance of well-marked routes for walking, hiking and cycling, and many other activities are offered. Project Travel offers walking trips in Geilo for all ages and abilities for 4 days or longer. Walkers can choose from half and full day guided walking tours, or go independent and follow one of the well marked trails in the area. This summer return flights from Dublin to Oslo with 4 nights B&B start from E543 pp sharing. Tel: (01) 2108391, www.Project-Travel.ie BInt-WalkIre 210x135 May2010_Layout 1 06/04/2010 9:51 am Page 1

Denis Gill writes: Deep within the heart of the Wicklow Mountains in the beautiful valley of Glenmalure, there is for many a walker “a home from home”…The Glenmalure Lodge! The Lodge, in one form or another has been welcoming weary travellers for nigh on two-hundred years, it has sent transport to pick up lost walkers from as far away as Glen of Imaal and Aughavannagh, and is a refuelling point for Mountain Rescue. And how do we as walkers repay this hospitality? On many a weekend, from early ‘til late, we take up every parking space in their car park… that’s how! Come on walkers, it’s not as if there is not parking available nearby, with new parking areas opened, up on the Three Crosses Pass and Drumgoff Woods also at Ballinafunshoge and Baravore Ford with countless forest entrances in-between. The Glenmalure Lodge has a business to run, they need parking available all day for all of their customers. So let’s return just a little of Ann and Pat’s warmth and generosity, leave the car park free for their other customers while we are on the hills and we can enjoy the hospitality of the Lodge all the more on our return.

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News

New Wicklow Maps From EastWest TWO NEW MAPS of the Wicklow Mountains have been released by mapping specialists EastWestMapping. Both are designed specifically to meet the needs of hillwalkers and other outdoor activity enthusiasts. Wicklow Mountains West and Lugnaquilla & Glendalough are now both available from the EastWest Mapping website at www.eastwestmapping.ie “The new maps are in the same general style as our Dublin & North Wicklow Mountains Map published in 2009,” says EastWest’s Barry Dalby. “They’re printed at 1:30,000 scale on 120 gsm Pretex paper which is water and tear resistant. Retail price is the same at €9.95 per sheet. We have a value deal for people who wish to purchase a set of the three maps at €29.00. I also expect they’ll be available in Eason’s, National Map Centre, Great Outdoors and shops in Wicklow in due course. “Fieldwork on foot and by bike was undertaken in 2009 (great autumn!) and 2010 interrupted somewhat by snow & ice etc. I think we’ve done a pretty good job at capturing the forest, road, track and path detail as well other physical features.

Contouring is still at 20 metres - not ideal, adequate in Wicklow for general hillwalking and biking. Hopefully we can improve with more contour detail in the future. As with any map, doubtless we have missed some features and/or new forest tracks have been constructed etc. “As always, I appreciate any feedback on detail that appears to be missing or incorrect so that we can chase it up on the ground. Where there is a significant issue, I’ll publish free .pdf updates on our website. “One aspect that I have invested a lot of time & effort into is a thorough review of the placenames of the hills and the location of ‘heritage’ features etc. This has been a substantial task in itself and of course,

open to improvement. I have written some of my thoughts on this aspect which you can find at www.eastwestmapping. ie/placenames In general I have deliberately chosen diversity as far as forms of names are concerned to reflect the richness of this aspect of our heritage. I have also placed an emphasis on the names known and used by the good people who live in the Wicklow hills rather than in some cases, those recorded on OSI material. “I trust that walkers enjoy using these maps as much as we have enjoyed making them and I thank the walking community for its support. I also hope that these maps go a little way towards a more complete record of these hills and valleys so close to many of our hearts.” A further Wicklow Mountains East sheet will be published early next year, and EastWest is looking in more detail at releasing digital versions in due course as time allows.

C

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10

Red Grouse Return to Irish Bogs

THE RED GROUSE has been making a comeback as a result of the habitat restoration work done by Coillte, as part of its ongoing commitment to nature conservation. Cloonshanville Bog in Co Roscommon is one of the 14 Raised Bog restoration sites which Coillte has worked on under a recent EU funded LIFE project. It is believed that as a result of the project and subsequent improvement in the habitat there has been a substantial increase in the numbers of Red Grouse at Cloonshanville, and some birds have also migrated to nearby Bellanagare Bog where there was no previous evidence of the Red Grouse. These bogs have plenty of new heather which is the preferred food for the Red Grouse. Coillte has restored over 2,500 hectares of raised and blanket bogs as part of this commitment.


Competition Results May/June issue Regatta Formation XLT Crossword Competition Results

Congratulations to: Jennifer Madden, Ashtown, Dublin 7 Frank Keoghan, Shanowen Crescent, Dublin Peter Kelly, Kiltimagh, Co Mayo Dolores Francis, Kerrykeel, Co. Donegal J. Clayton, Douglas, Cork Seamus McEneny, Millbrook Lawns, Dublin 24 John Tyrell, Arklow, Co. Wicklow Noreen Ryan, Killiney, Co. Dublin Sean Boyle, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal A. Rosfort, Walkinstown, Dublin 12 Sean Brown, Tuam, Co. Galway Alison Saunders, Bray, Co. Wicklow Mairin Ryan, Athlone, Co. Westmeath Brian A. Brady, Greystones, Co. Wicklow John O’Brien, Mallow, Co. Cork Our thanks to all who entered and to our sponsors, Regatta

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By the Way...

T

Looping Erris Head The National Looped Walks network is a huge asset to our walking infrastructure. By Michael Fewer

hose readers of Walking World Ireland who have read any of my books will know that walking coasts is one of my favourite activities. Coasts can provide almost all the drama, exertion, and exhilaration that a mountain can, but they have the added dynamic presence of the ever-restless, ever-changing ocean. Exploring the coast of north Mayo recently, we found ourselves in a little piece of heaven, sitting in the warming evening sun on the well-grazed herby grass clifftop of Erris Head. It is a place that most of us know only from the Sea Area Reports given out on the radio, when Erris Head is mentioned with such other geographic extremities as as Slyne Head, Malin Head and Rossan Point. A constant rolling swell undulated the deep blue waters of the Atlantic and rose and fell in a frosting of surf against the bottom of the cliff below. A procession of fulmars scooted along the cliffs beside us, banking and soaring effortlessly as they seems to hone their flying skills, which appeared anyway flawless. With long narrow wings ideal for fast gliding, they are wonderful flyers, and flew so close to us that we could see their wing and tail feathers adjusting constantly to keep them in steady flight. A pair of great black backed gulls, perched in the grass on the great red rock that must have detached itself from the head millennia ago, looked on snootily at the fulmars showing off. We had driven out of Belmullet heading north looking for some cliff walking and ended up at the northernmost point of the road, less than a couple of miles from Erris Head, where we found a small and very convenient carpark. We also found a stile across the ditch into the extensive sheep pastures that cover the headland, and were soon on our way. It was a glorious evening, the end of an April pet day, with only a

gentle breeze coming off the ocean to balance the heat of the setting sun. Across Broad Haven Bay to the east and beyond Kid Island, the sun picked out the contours of the dramatic high cliffs of Benwee Head and the Skellig-like Stags of Broad Haven offshore. It wasn’t long before we realized we were following waymarkers, which explained the stile and a couple of bridges across drains, and so realized that our venture onto the head should be without access or terrain difficulties. The going on spongy grass was comfortable, and the only person we met on our circuit was a young woman from the Haulbowline Marine Research Centre in Cork with two telescopes on tripods watching, as she had been doing all day, for whales, dolphins and basking sharks. It took us little time to cover the two kilometres to the tip of the head, where, surrounded by the glittering Atlantic, we found that little piece of heaven. It is always difficult to drag oneself away from such places, but we had an appointment in Belmullet, and we managed eventually to begin our return to the car, by the western side of the head. On the way, past a WWII observation post and the giant word ‘EIRE’ spelled out in white stones on the clifftop, we were entertained by a brief battle between a flock of choughs and a cranky raven, which the choughs won handsomely. When we got back to the car we noticed a map board we had missed when we first arrived, indicating that the route around the head was an official Failte Ireland Loop Walk. What a great idea they are: the number of people, tourists or locals, who want to walk 120 miles on a major waymarked trail must be only a fraction of those who would like something that will provide them with a really interesting walk of between three and ten miles, essentially what the Looped Walks provide. Looped walks have been featured in this magazine many times, but it was not until I had a look at their website (www. discoverireland.ie) that I realized just how many there were, all over the country. Get out and try one – it can be very rewarding!

“Surrounded by the glittering Atlantic, we found that little piece of heaven.” 12


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Sandwood Bay

Sandwood Bay Judy Armstrong found white sandy beaches, irridescent seas and perfect walking weather – at Scotland’s northwest tip. Photos by Judy Armstrong

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ay

L

ast year, emptying an attic, I found an old calendar. Illustrating the month of June was a photo of a long, white beach. Black cliffs framed the bay at either end, lazy dunes rolled back to distant mountains and the sea smashed surf onto the sand. The caption read, simply, Sandwood Bay. It looked remote. There was no sign of human interference: no roads, no buildings, no aerials or poles. The beach looked vaguely Caribbean but the backdrop looked Scottish. So I hauled out the atlas and there it was: Sandwood Bay, a skip from Cape Wrath, almost falling off the top of Britain. I dug deeper and discovered that, since 1993, Sandwood Estate has been owned by the John Muir Trust. This conservation charity aims to preserve the wild beauty and bio-diversity, while at the same time maintaining a viable crofting community. All this meant it was likely to look the same today as it did in this decades-old calendar shot. As it happened, I was heading in that direction, so I packed a rucksack with minimalist camping kit and added in two days for a detour. North, and north, and north… Once past Ullapool, the last major township on this extraordinary coast, the road narrowed and sideslipped past lochans, coastal indents and looming mountains. Past Scourie, the view broadened and became almost austere. Black rock, pale pools, deep bogs… by the time we turned off the deserted A838 to Kinlochbervie, it felt like we were on the moon.

Kinlochbervie was slightly weird. It looked like a straggling crofting village, until we arrived at the fish processing plant and huge concrete harbour. We’d heard about awesome fish and chips at the Fisherman’s Mission, but since it was only 10am the chippie was firmly closed. There seemed no other reason to dally so we trundled on towards Blairmore, where we would start walking to Sandwood Bay. Actually, that’s not quite true. Before we got to Blairmore, we turned left at Oldshoremore because we wanted to see the beach, and have a strong coffee from the portable cafetiere that would certainly not be coming in our backpacks. And it almost spoiled Sandwood for us: the beach at Oldshoremore is one of the most glorious sights I have ever seen in my life. Sitting in seagrass above the beach, we watched tiny waves tickle the whitest sand this side of the Virgin Islands. The sea was an irridescent blue in multiple layers from cornflower to indigo, and the sun made it sparkle and jiggle. The place was deserted. After an hour a woman wandered onto the sand with two black Labrador dogs. They each made one set of tracks to the rock stacks at the far end of the beach, and another set back. Then the sea washed the prints away, and the beach was back to blank canvas. We could have stayed all day... Finally at Blairmore, we shouldered our rucksacks and set off along a rough track for Sandwood Bay. A gate blocked vehicular traffic, but a wooden sign stated Walkers Welcome. Relishing our lightweight packs and knowing we had only a short distance to

“For an hour we watched, breathlessly, as a large dog otter rolled and dived, fished and played, lay on his back with his paws on his chest.” 15


Sandwood Bay walk, we sauntered along the track, past little Loch Aisir and Loch na Gainimh. To our right, the view widened over open moorland to the whalebacks of Foinaven, Arkle and the pyramid of Ben Stack. Looking back, we could see the multihorned beast of Quinag, and a hint of distant Suilven. The track led us past bright blue lochans with caramel beaches. Stepping stones kept our feet dry over the outlet of Loch a Mhuilinn; I was tempted to fling off my clothes and bathe in the crystal clear pool but Duncan wouldn’t play so I kept my kit on. A few seconds later we met two teenagers returning from the beach carrying surfboards. It seemed a long way to walk just to ride a wave, but they probably thought the same about us: why go just to look at a view? After climbing around a small hill, we saw Sandwood Loch, a roofless stone cottage and a sheep enclosure, evidence of the crofters who lived here until eviction in the early 1800s, and of the livestock that they gave way for. We could smell the sea but it wasn’t until we were standing on vast, shifting sand dunes that we actually saw the beach. The John Muir Trust leaflet on Sandwood Estate says: Sense the Space and Solitude. I’m not sure about ‘sense’: the space and solitude smacked us in the face the second we got to the dunes. Noise from the breakers boomed off the cliffs, oystercatchers peeped as they probed the sand and terns twisted and dived for sand eels. Sandwood Bay looked exactly like its calendar picture. It’s about 1.5 miles long and, on a glorious day in early June, we were the only people on it. The dunes were high with narrow ridges and broad bowls. I ran down a ridge and it broke away; my rucksack and I tumbled over and over in a slippery silver shower of sand. Faced with an empty beach,

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Fact File Walk distance: 15km (7km to Sandwood Bay on the track, 8km returning along the coast). Height gain approx 300m. Maps & Guides: Ordnance Survey Landranger 9: Cape Wrath. Walking in Scotland’s Far North, by Andy Walmsley (Cicerone, www.cicerone.co.uk). The Rough Guide: Scottish Highlands & Islands for general reference (www. roughguides.com) Where to stay: Wild camping on Sandwood Bay beach or behind the beach at Sheigra. The official campsite at Oldshoremore has been closed since 2002. Useful info: The village of Kinlochbervie, home to a harbour and fish processing plant, has the only facilities in the immediate area. These include a café, toilets, shop and the Kinlochbervie Hotel. Websites: The community website is www.kinlochbervie.org. This coastal stretch is part of the North West Highland Geopark: www.northwesthighlands-geopark.org.uk. Sandwood Bay is part of Sandwood Estate, owned by the John Muir Trust: www.jmt.org Getting there: Turn off the A838 at Rhiconich (hotel), for the B801 to Kinlochbervie (six miles). For Sandwood Bay, continue past Oldshoremore, and park by the public toilets at Blairmore. Other attractions: Breathtaking white sand beaches at Oldshoremore, Sheigra and Polin. Prehistoric archaeological sites at Kinlochbervie and Oldshoremore.

we chose a site for our tiny tent. The prime pitch was raised above a small lagoon, protected by dunes and marram grass, with a superb view south to a rocky sea stack. This is Am Buachaille (The Shepherd), first climbed by Tom Patey and John Cleare in 1967. Apparently they used a ladder to cross the narrow channel below the stack, but were almost cut off by the tide when returning after the climb. That level of athleticism was well beyond our modest intentions: we were more interested in admiring the view and regressing to childhood, as all adults should on a beach. We spent a couple of hours skimming stones, building sand castles and chasing waves, before walking the length of the beach itself. North toward Cape Wrath the cliffs were like fudge: brown and dark red, smeared and striped, a mix of sand and pebbles. This is Torridonian sandstone, graded and deposited by rivers around 600 million years ago. We sat on the sand, in sunshine, with no-one else for miles, with a view to an unchallenged horizon. It was exhilarating, soothing and liberating, all at the same time. Eventually, we settled down to dinner. The tide was out and a breeze blew onshore. Sandhoppers hopped, dippers dipped and a speckled turnstone strutted. But something was wrong. I could smell something rank, and it wasn’t our meal. It got worse as time passed, so I suggested to Duncan that we wander down to that rock in the now half-empty lagoon, for a view down the beach. As we walked toward the sea, Duncan started laughing. Rock? I don’t think so. Given the freedom of one of Scotland’s most idyllic, wild beaches, given more than a mile of empty sand, we had pitched our tent within 15 metres of a rotting whale. We’d heard about the many ships wrecked on this beach before the building of the Cape Wrath lighthouse in 1828, but we hadn’t banked on


the same thing happening to the wildlife. In the morning, after a night undisturbed by the shipwrecked mariner said to haunt the beach, we headed south. After climbing a narrow path up the sandstone cliffs, we paused to look back along the beach. Our whale was almost submerged. We could see Sandwood Loch as well as the sea, and north along the cliffs toward Cape Wrath. Just as when we arrived, it was deserted and pristine; a picture etched on our retinas more firmly than any photo. Skirting the cliff above Am Buachaille, we followed the coast. The vegetation was closecropped and wind blasted, on terrain that rose and fell like a shallow breath. Sometimes we had a path, sometimes not, but in general the going was easy. At one point, above another sea stack, we paused to admire the view. Movement caught my eye; I squinted into the sun and saw something I had been searching for, for years. “Otter!” I whispered. A large dog otter was wandering over the grass about 50 metres inland. As we watched, he meandered down to the rocky foreshore, preened his chest, and slipped into the sea. But he didn’t go far: for an hour we watched, breathlessly, while he rolled and dived, fished and played, lay on his back with his paws on his chest, always in the sheltered semi-circle of the bay. It was utterly absorbing, and a privilege to witness. I’ve always said that an otter sighting only counts if you can see his eyes – and this was a sighting in spades. The rest of the day was almost an anticlimax. Later we saw a couple of graceful

porpoise and the fin of a minke whale, but our hearts stayed in the bay with our sleek, confident fisherman. We headed inland toward Sheigra to see what we could find. The terrain here was tougher: boggy, with deep heather and holes. Soon we found a track, made by crofters for peat collection. Small towers of black peat rectangles were stacked in places, likely left by some of the families still working the 54 crofts of the Sandwood Estate. At Sheigra, we met the end of the road that had trickled gently out of Kinlochbervie. To our right was another paradise beach, with tent-worn patches on its cropped grass porch. To our left, the road ran to the parking at

Blairmore. In the centre was a handful of houses that looked radiant in the sunshine, but which were, I guessed, more often bashed by gales. We knew: if we were lucky to have shared time with the otter, we were even more fortunate with the weather. Billy Connolly is reported to have said: “There are two seasons in Scotland: June, and winter.” He was right: this was June, and as far from winter as New Zealand is from Scotland. But had we been a week either side, Sandwood Bay, Sheigra and this entire Sutherland coast could have been rain-drenched, wind-battered and desolate. And you know what? We would have loved it just the same.

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Benwiskin

Benwiskin

Helen Fairbairn rediscovers this previously inaccessible peak in Sligo’s Dartry Mountains. Photos by Gareth McCormack

the wave-like proďŹ le of Benwiskin

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around Gleniff ’s Horseshoe Road to appreciate the cliffs from below as well as above. The cliffs themselves are pock-marked by old mine entrances, testament to the valley’s industrial past. Barite, a mineral used in the manufacture of glass, paint and drilling fluid, was mined here intermittently from the mid nineteenth century to 1979. In 1928 a narrow-gauge railway was constructed to link Gleniff to Mullaghmore harbour, though just three barite shipments were actually made along the line. After a period of inactivity work began again, and by the 1970s up to 50,000 tonnes a year were being extracted from the mines, helping Ireland to become Europe’s major barite producer. Also amid the cliffs are several natural caves, including one large, prominent cavern situated around 400m up the mountain. Legend has it that this was the last hiding place of Diarmuid and Grainne. The two lovers used the cave as a hideout from Grainne’s spurned husband, Fionn MacCool. Fionn’s pursuit of his faithless bride and former comrade had been relentless, but the couple eluded their pursuers for many years. Diarmuid was eventually killed by a giant boar on top of the Benbulbin plateau. Walkers should note that while one access

issue has been resolved in the area, other complications remain. The Miner’s Track, at the head of the valley, remains out of bounds, as an ‘Entry Prohibited’ sign confirms. The access road leading to the RTE masts on Truskmore is also closed to the public until at least the middle of 2011, to allow upgrading work to take place. So though a circuit of the massif may seem tempting on the map, an out-and-back walk remains the only permitted option for now. Also note that the walk spends a significant amount of time near the edge of precipitous cliffs. Avoid walking in poor visibility, high winds and wet conditions when the grass may be quite slippery underfoot.

Connacht

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reak out the champagne, it’s time to celebrate! After almost two decades of access disputes, one of Sligo’s most distinctive mountains is open to the public once again. The approach may not yet be perfect, and there are other complications in the area, but let’s focus on the positive: Benwiskin is now ready to be discovered by a whole generation of walkers who until now have been barred from its slopes. With the exception perhaps of Benbulbin, Benwiskin (514m) has the most distinctive profile of any mountain in the region. Shaped like a massive breaking wave, it seems perpetually ready to crumble down into Donegal Bay. The prow of the mountain is actually undercut, and it’s an awesome experience to stand on the edge of the precipice and admire the coastline below. The eastern side of the Benwiskin massif is also cut into a series of sharp cliffs, which culminate at the natural amphitheatre known as Annacoona. Chiseled by glaciers during the last ice age, these cliffs combine with limestone outcrops on top of the plateau to create a journey of great topographical interest. Before you set out on your walk, it’s well worth diving clockwise

Getting to the Start The route starts and finishes at the bottom of a Coillte forestry track on the western side of Gleniff ’s Horseshoe Road (GR: G 736,487). Begin by accessing the area via the N15 Sligo-Ballyshannon road. Then use the OS map to choose from a number of minor roads to reach Ballintrillick bridge, at the entrance to Gleniff. Follow the Horseshoe Road to the base of the forest track, which is marked by a wide gravel entranceway and a metal gate. There is parking space for 8-10 vehicles at the track entrance.

the cliffs of annacoona

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Benwiskin The Walk Pass through the metal gate and head up the track into the forestry plantation. Keep left at a fork after 50m and follow the track southwest, with Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave a prominent feature in the cliffline ahead. Keep left at a second junction roughly a kilometre later and continue to the turning area at the end of the track. The trees in this area have been felled in recent months and the 100m from the track to the edge of the forest may be rather rough. The easiest terrain can be found to the left, along an old firebreak with a stream running along its centre. Follow the bank of the stream all the way to the edge of the plantation, where you arrive at open ground with the cliffs towering imposingly overhead. Turn right and follow the edge of the plantation to its southwestern corner. A line of old fence posts now leads directly up the slope ahead, though the angle of ascent is too steep for most humans. More comfortable – though still steep – terrain can be found by climbing diagonally up the slope to the right. The ascent is unrelenting all the way to the top of the ridge, which you join at an area of peat hags. Begin by turning right and following the ridgeline north. Though the top of the ridge is broad and grassy, it’s well worth veering towards the western edge, where you can approach the edge of the cliff with care. The reward is a stunning coastal view over Donegal Bay, with the headland of Mullaghmore and the cliffs of Slieve League most prominent. Continue northeast along the cliff top until a fence bars your way. The tip of Benwiskin is just 200m further on, and little is gained by crossing the fence. Instead, turn around and head back the way you came. Rather than following the cliffline however, keep to the highest part of the ridge and follow a faint track on the right hand side of a line of old fence posts. The dominant feature is now the table-like profile of Benbulbin to the southwest, backed by the more distant silhouettes of Mayo’s Nephin Beg range. Continue south across a shallow col, and past the peat hags where you joined the ridge. Climb easily across a couple of hummocks, with limestone slabs showing through the grass at regular intervals. This is a beautiful section, with the deep bowl of Gleniff to the east, and the equally impressive Glendaragh sweeping round to the west. Climb gradually southeast above the cliffs of Annacoona, with Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave now directly beneath your feet. These cliffs are particularly rich in alpine plants,

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with several species growing here that are found nowhere else in Ireland. You may also spot a celtic cross set into the slope around 150m back from the edge. The memorial is unmarked, but certainly commands a fantastic view over Sligo’s mountains and coastline. The ground underfoot is now pitted with sink holes and small depressions, more features typical of a limestone landscape. Follow the cliff line south to a tight cirque, where weathered pinnacles and plunging rock faces provide a dramatic finale to the route. Continue towards point 597 until you feel

you’ve seen the best of the rock architecture, then turn round and head for home. Retrace your steps along the ridge to the peat hags, then reverse your outward route back to the start.

FACT FILE BENWISKIN Distance: 13km/8 miles Ascent: 500m/1640ft Time: 4-5 hours Maps: OSNI 1:50,000 Sheet 16


“Barite, a mineral used in the manufacture of glass, paint and drilling fluid, was mined here intermittently from the mid nineteenth century to 1979.�


Lugnaquilla

Lugnaquilla East from the

Denis Gill suggests an alternative approach to Leinster’s highest summit. Photos by Eoin Clarke

Climbing Lugnaquilla from the South Prison

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Getting to the Start From the east of the mountains follow the M50/M11 to Kilmacanogue to turn at the

flyover onto the R755. Drive via the villages of Roundwood and Laragh to turn left after the bridge in Laragh onto the Rathdrum Road. After 1?k turn right onto the Military Road: sign posted Glenmalure. Drive 8k to Drumgoff Crossroads, continue south through the crossroads for 3k on a long uphill with the ridge of Fananierin Mountain off on the left, to park on the right at a newly created parking area, signposted Drumgoff Woods. GR: T094.889. From the west of the mountains take the N81 to Hollywood and turn onto the R756 to enjoy the drive over the Wicklow Gap via Glendalough into Laragh. Before the bridge in Laragh turn right onto the Rathdrum Road and follow as above. Only recently published, the splendid 1:30,000 Lugnaquilla and Glendalough map by EastWest Mapping is especially suited to walking on Lugnaquilla as the entire massif, regardless of your approach is shown with a wealth of trails and information that eliminates the need for two OSi maps

Route From the parking area, follow a forest track uphill that soon joins the Wicklow Way, continue uphill past an eye-catching outcrop of white quartz to a junction and leave the way-marked trail as it turns left.

The Eco Grid Trail

An informal and admittedly unscientific straw poll of walkers results in a decisive ‘thumbs down’ for this well-intentioned innovation. The black plastic interlocked matting may be suitable for repairing or preventing erosion on an existing trail, but this effort to create a new trail across the humps and bumps of a blaket bog just does not work. Parts of the matting are sinking into bog pools, while the interlinks on the mats are breaking off due to the stress caused by the hollows and furrows they have to traverse. A worthy effort, but in this instance not fit for purpose. What do you think? Let us know by emailing walkingworldirl@iol.ie

Continue straight ahead into a tunnel of trees passing a signpost providing details of mountain access routes with a cautionary note: This is a remote wilderness area and should only be approached if fully equipped with boots, raingear, map compass, food and drink and do not walk alone! Wise words…I have seen fools on Lug in teeshirts and trainers, no doubt intent on keeping the Mountain Rescue in gainful employment! The trail quickly emerges from the trees to soon fork right across a clearing of heather to reach a newly created trail of tough black plastic interlocked matting, manufactured from recycled plastic; this Eco Grid Trail is experimental and is being tested as a method of creating sustainable access and reducing erosion! Follow the Eco Grid as it enters the forest to negotiate an expanse of sedge tussocks and bog pools to reach a forest track. Turn left for a few metres before turning right on a narrow trail into the trees to quickly emerge onto a broad spur running southeast off Carrawaystick Mountain ‘ceathramhadh istigh’ inner quarter, note the location of this trailhead GR: T077.895 as it is where the access route ends and its position will be needed on the return trek. Follow a somewhat erratic narrow trail northwest among the heather, always holding the high ground heading towards a sward of greenery driving a wedge between the heather on the hillside ahead, to locate a good trail to climb Carrawaystick. For a little breather on the climb, pause and look behind for a panorama of eastern summits and valleys ranging north from

Leinster

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ublin city and county is indeed privileged to have County Wicklow on its southern borders! The beauty and wild scenery of the Wicklow Mountain Range make’s available to hill walkers the largest unbroken highland assembly of mountains in Ireland. Wicklow’s mountains and glens offer an escape to a wilderness area of outstanding natural beauty including the massif that embraces Lugnaquilla: Leinster’s highest mountain. Our trek to the summit of ‘Lug’ avoids the more frequented routes out of Glenmalure and Glen of Imaal and instead reveals an approach from below Drumgoff Gap on the Military Road, where our route traverses from the east, along the long spur of Carrawaystick and Corrigasleggaun Mountains to Lugcoolmeen ‘log cúil mhín’ the mountain of the smooth back, a picture perfect example of a mountain col for the final stunning ascent onto the highest summit in Ireland outside of Co. Kerry.

Walking on the ‘eco-grid’, made from recycled plastic, in Drumgoff Forest

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Lugnaquilla Croghan Kinsella on the Wexford border across Aughavannagh to the distinctive pyramid shape of Croghan Moira until after the deep cutting of Glenmalure, the peaks rise and fall all the way to the Dublin borders. The long forested ridge immediately to the south is the curiously named Doyle Street; the origin of its name is unknown but celebrated locally. Once on the crest of the hill that is Carrawaystick which has no distinct summit, as the trail goes to the left of a peat hag, turn hard right and north to pass a lone spindly fir tree and follow a single file trail into an area of peat hags with the summit of Clohernagh Mountain across the valley of Kelly’s Lough directly ahead. If the mist is down, take a bearing on Clohernagh Mountain until free of the peat hags, then turn left, never loosing height and keeping the hags on your left to locate beyond a scattering of rocks a small rusty cross in memory of Frank Maher and John Lonergan who perished when their light aircraft crashed here on 2nd February 1992. Beyond the plane wreckage, cross a broken fence by a defunct stile and begin to climb on a narrow trail onto the broad slopping plateau of Corrigasleggaun ‘carraig na sliogán’ hill of the small stones. The heather soon gives way to a pleasant high pasture with a scattering of small rocks that gives the mountain its name. As height is gained, you will have your first glimpse of Lugnaquilla as its majestic summit begins to appear above the cliffs of the South Prison, your line of march is directly towards ‘Lug’ but alas nothing is that simple as directly ahead and to be avoided is the deep corrie of the South Prison. Instead as the peat hags start to fall behind, tend to the right onto the high ground to locate the summit cairn on Corrigasleggaun Mountain 796m. From the cairn, trek north on a gentle downhill to the col of Lugcoolmeen ‘log cúil mhín’ mountain of the smooth back, which is a watershed between the South Prison and the hanging valley that conceals Kelly’s Lough. Cross the col, to ascend onto the long ridge stretching for nearly 3km from the summit of Clohernagh

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Mountain to the summit cairn on Lugnaquilla. Once on the ridge all of the hard slog is over, turn left at a small cairn to stroll across pleasant upland pasture, contouring around the top of the South Prison with wonderful views down into the valley of the headwaters of the Ow River. Locate a large distinctive cairn topped off with a trig pillar at 925metres on the summit of Lugnaquilla ‘lug na gcoilleach’ the hollow of the cocks or grouse, or ‘log na coille’ hollow of the wood, with a 360 degree breathtaking vista. Aside from the many summits on the Lugnaquilla massif, to the south on the Wexford and Carlow borders are the summits of Croghan Kinsella, the Blackstairs and Mount Leinster, while to the north among many other peaks are Mullaghcleevaun and Tonelagee the two next highest peaks in the Wicklow range. The summit cairn is a popular lunch stop as on most days it offers shelter from the prevailing winds but it may be very cold as it can be 10 degrees cooler up here above 900metres than at sea level! Backtrack off the summit cairn, bypassing a stubby pillar with an old brass View Indicator that was erected in 1952 to celebrate the 21st birthday of An Oige, alas

by 1961 it had disappeared but by chance, many years later it was discovered in a back yard in Dublin and was returned to its rightful place on the summit. Continue downhill keeping the cliffs plummeting into South Prison off on the right until the earlier cairn above the col of Lugcoolmeen is reached. Descend to cross the col and only begin your climb directly onto Corrigasleggaun Mountain before veering to the left towards three boulders to find a narrow game trail that contours around the north-eastern edge of Corrigasleggaun with amazing views down onto Kelly’s Lough, its dark waters trapped behind a boulder strewn moraine with Carrawaystick Brook meandering down the hanging valley before disappearing from sight as it plunges over the granite rim of Glenmalure to cascade down to the valley floor 160 metres below, as a tributary of the Avonbeg River.

FACT FILE lugnaquilla from the east Distance: 17km Ascent: 660m Time: 5-6 hours Maps: OSi Sheet 56 and 62


Descending Lugnaquilla, heading south

“The brass View Indicator was erected in 1952 to celebrate the 21st birthday of An Oige, but by 1961 it had disappeared, to be discovered many years later in a back yard in Dublin.�

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Slieve Beagh

Slieve Beagh The rolling moorland around Slieve Beagh lays down a challenge to even experienced walkers, as Gareth McCormack found out. Photos by Gareth McCormack

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Walker passing Lough antraicer

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t 380m high, Slieve Beagh is renowned for two things. First is its location; as well as straddling the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, the mountain also lies at the intersection counties of Monaghan, Fermanagh and Tyrone. Second is its moorland topography. This is a place where you can expect a red grouse to fly out of the tussock grass ahead of you, while a hen harrier wheels in the sky overhead. Much of the blanket bog on the high ground is intact, and the route passes though Eshbrack Bog Natural Heritage Area as well as the adjacent Slieve Beagh Special Area of Conservation. While the landscape offers a haven for numerous native species of fauna and flora, it also poses something of a challenge for walkers. Over the years different commentators have offered various descriptions of Slieve Beagh’s terrain, many of them less than complimentary. It has been called ‘desolate, barren, bleak and moody’, a ‘brooding, godforsaken area’, and ‘a veritable oasis of emptiness’. While there’s no denying that the uplands are rough, rounded and sometimes nondescript, it would be a shame if this deterred you from visiting. Pick a fine day after a decent dry spell, and you may even be positively impressed by the moor's remote character. The circuit described here minimises the difficulties by using the Sliabh Beagh Way, a waymarked trail that coincides with the Ulster

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Way in these parts. In fact the route has two halves; the lower follows marker posts along a series of tracks and peatland paths, while the upper section crosses open, hilltop terrain. The mountain’s gaelic name, Sliabh Beatha, is thought to mean ‘mountain of the birch’, though a more colourful explanation can also be found in Irish mythology. When Noah took to the sea in the ark, a second ship apparently also set sail, containing Noah’s son Bith, Queen Cesair and her fifty maids. The ship ended up in Ireland; this mountain is named in Bith’s honour while his body lies under Carn Rock, around 10km southwest. The rolling nature of the uplands means the route is restricted to walkers with route-finding skills. In clear conditions there are five loughs and a comms aerial to aid navigation, but poor visibility should deter even experienced walkers from venturing onto these hills.

Getting to the Start The route starts and finishes at a parking area on the southeastern side of Slieve Beagh (GR: H 563,431). The area is accessed via the R186 Clogher-Monaghan road. Turn west around 3km south of the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The turn is signed for Bragan Scenic Drive, the Penal Cross and Lough Bradan. Follow this lane for 5km to a T-junction and turn right, right again after 1.5km and follow the road for another km to the parking area, marked by a picnic table and an information board about turf cutting.

The Walk From the parking area, head southwest along the lane. After 300m you come to a corner; turn right here and join a stone track, as indicated by a waymarking post for the Sliabh Beagh Way. Continue along the track for 400m, then turn left beside a waymarker. Head across the springy turf, following along the right hand side of an old drainage ditch. Cross a stream with the help of a metal footbridge and continue ahead, following marker posts across the peatland. At the top of a hummock, the waters of Lough Aportan come into view below. Here the trail veers abruptly to the right, and you head northwest to join the end of a track. Follow the track, swinging left at a junction and continuing towards Lough Antraicer. Shortly before this lough, the waymarkers indicate a right turn and a return to open ground. Pass along the western side of the lough, crossing two more footbridges on the way. Within long you arrive at the end of another track. Follow this for around 600m, then watch out for a signed right turn back onto the moorland. The Sliabh Beagh Way runs parallel to Mullaghfad Forest for a while, before making a sharp left turn towards the trees. This is where you must leave the waymarked trail. Instead of turning left, continue straight ahead across rough ground, aiming for the northeastern corner of the plantation. It is now worth pausing for a moment to get your bearings before setting off towards


Ulster Waymarking post for the Sliabh Beagh Way

Crossing a footbridge on the Sliabh Beagh Way

the hills ahead. The main landmarks are the stream that runs northwards, and the aerial that marks a point just north of Lough Sallagh. If you can pinpoint these accurately then you should be able to work out the direction required to arrive at Slieve Beagh. Cross to the western side of the stream at a point just north of the forest. Now begin to climb northwest, negotiating thick tussock grass underfoot. After roughly one kilometre you come to the depression that holds Shane Barnagh’s Lough, with a nearby outcrop of sandstone known as Shane Barnagh’s Stables. The name recalls a 17th century outlaw who roamed across Northern Ireland after he was evicted from his family home. Though he was known by several surnames, this is the same Shane whose exploits in the Sperrins gave the Glenshane Pass its name. The rocks here were apparently used to hide stolen cattle and horses, and rumours persist of a horde of undiscovered treasure that still lies buried under the lough. Some accounts even recall that Barnagh’s body was cast into these waters after his execution in Derry in 1722. Continue northwest towards the summit, passing to the left of a copse of decaying pines. The highest point is unmarked, but lies somewhere at the top of a peaty mound. On a clear day the views stretch for miles in all directions, and include Cuilcagh to the southwest and the Sperrins to the north. From the summit, head eastward towards the aerial. This will take you across a shallow col known as Three Counties Hollow – the point where Fermanagh, Tyrone and Monaghan converge. Pass just north of Lough Sallagh to reach the aerial. Continue east, following a faint track over a rise. Loughanalbanagh now comes into view

below; pass the southern tip of this lake and climb to Crockanalbanagh. Maintain an easterly course, keeping high and aiming to pass just north of the point marked on the map as Lough Galluane. The lough has long since dried up, but a grassy hollow reveals where the water might once have been. Arc southeast above the hollow of Lough Galluane, where you arrive at an area used for peat cutting. Join the end of a rough peat

track and follow this to a firmer stone track. This leads southeast, past the point where you turned off at the start of the route. Now simply retrace your initial steps back to the parking area.

FACT FILE SLieVe Beagh Distance: 11km/7 miles Ascent: 230m/750ft Time: 4.5-5 hours Maps: OSNI 1:50,000 Sheet 18

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Derrynane

Derrynane Coastal Circuit

Helen Fairbairn samples some of the finest coastal walking to be found on the Ring of Kerry. Photos by Gareth McCormack

Walking on abbey island above Derrynane Strand, Caherdaniel

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the state’s many anti-Catholic laws be removed, including the ban on Catholics becoming members of parliament. O’Connell’s efforts eventually earned him a prison sentence, and one of the exhibits on display in the house is the ornate ‘triumphal chariot’ that was brought by his supporters to the prison gates to collect him on his release. The village of Caherdaniel is also named in his honour. Derrynane House is open to visitors daily from May to September and less frequently during the winter, and entry costs �3. For more information, phone 066-947 5113.

Getting to the Start The walk starts and finishes at the car park for ‘Derrynane Dunes Nature Trail’(GR: V 534,587), around 200m east of the main car park for Derrynane House. Begin by following the N70 to Caherdaniel. From here, take the minor road west from the centre of the village, following signs for Derrynane House. Veer left at a junction after 1.5km, then turn immediately left again to the car park.

The Walk From the beach end of the car park, follow a footpath signed ‘Derrynane Dunes Nature Trail’. This leads south to a trail junction, where you should turn left to reach the edge of the expansive sand flats that border the Coomnahorna River estuary. The slopes of Eagle Hill rise on the opposite bank of the river, while wading birds can often be seen picking over the spoils in the shallow water below.

Turn right and follow the river bank to the back of the dunes, then continue ahead along a smaller footpath that weaves through the sandhills. Descend to the firm sand of the beach and turn right. Follow the beach northwest for more than a kilometre, passing several rock outcrops along the way. The sheltering arms of the bay mean that the turquoise waters are normally quite calm, and this is a favourite spot with families in summer. Nonetheless, warnings on the rocks indicate that some places can be treacherous for swimmers. At the end of the beach, your onward route will depend on the state of the tide. At low tide, simply continue along the sand, sweeping south at the end to reach Abbey Island. Here you’ll find the evocative ruins of Derrynane Abbey, believed to have been founded by St Finian around the 8th century. The roofless stone buildings are surrounded by graves, one of which belongs to Mary O’Connell, wife of Daniel O’Connell. Keep an eye on the sea level while you explore the site however, as the neck of sand connecting the island to the mainland is covered at high tide. When you’re ready, cross back to the end of the main beach and head left, following an access path and then a short section of tarmac to the pier and car park at the end of the road. At high tide the water covers the western end of the beach, and you will be forced off the sand soon after a yellow lifeguard hut. Cross the back of the beach to a parking area, then walk along the access road to a junction. Turn left here, following signs to

Munster

T

he Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations. So much so that in the peak summer months the narrow road that circumnavigates the Iveragh peninsula becomes a tour-bus crush. However if you manage to avoid the congestion you’ll quickly realise why the area attracts such hordes. Stunning beaches combine with a rugged mountainous interior to create some extraordinarily pretty scenes. In the midst of it all – and in many ways exemplifying the best of it – is the Derrynane Coastal Circuit, a relatively short yet immensely varied walking route that should please locals and visitors alike. A long sandy beach, a rocky mass path, country lanes and the Kerry Way all provide passage along various sections of the route. A modest ascent of a mountain shoulder also provides wonderful views over numerous offshore islands and islets, with the distinctive outlines of the Skellig Islands prominent amongst them. The route starts and finishes within the grounds of Derrynane National Historic Park, and it’s possible to visit Derrynane House and gardens at the end of the walk. The house is the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, the ‘Great Liberator’. O’Connell is credited with mobilising the Irish people into their first mass movement, thus beginning the process by which Ireland eventually gained its independence. Though he was not a nationalist and sat in the British parliament, he demanded

the ruins of 8th century Derrynane abbey overlook Derrynane Bay

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Derrynane ‘Abbey Island’. At the end of the road you arrive at Abbey Island pier and car park, rejoining walkers on the low-tide route. The route now continues west along a rougher section of coastline, following the line of an old mass path. The path begins around 50m up the road from the pier, and is marked by a waymarking post and a set of steps in a stone wall. Follow the trail around the back of a building and you will soon find yourself weaving between seams of rock and climbing several flights of ancient stone steps, surrounded all the while by a wonderfully wild coastal landscape. It’s easy to imagine locals in centuries gone by, filing along the path on their way to celebrate mass at the abbey. Descend to a stony cove and continue along the shore, ignoring two right turns, until the path crosses a stile and joins a track. Turn left and pass around the back of another small beach to a pier, where a minor road leads uphill to the right. Follow the lane as it climbs steeply up the hillside, keeping right at a junction. Around 1.5km from the pier you arrive at a sharp lefthand switchback, and a prominent signpost at the corner indicates the route of the Kerry Way. Turn right here, following the Kerry

Way east along a small lane. The marker posts of this 215km-long route will guide you for the next 1.5km. Cross a metal gate and stile, then watch for a left turn off the track, where a footpath begins to climb across open ground. A short, sharp ascent brings you to the top of a spur of Farraniaragh Mountain, with the extra elevation affording fine coastal views that include the Beara Peninsula to the south. On the eastern side of the spur, the trail descends along a stony woodland path to a minor road. The Kerry Way continues ahead here, but this route turn right along the road. Descend along the tarmac for 1km and continue straight ahead at a junction, following signs for ‘Derrynane

FACT FILE DerrYnane CoaStaL CirCuit Distance: 8km / 5 miles Total Ascent: 180m / 590ft Time: 3-3½ hours Maps: OSi 1:50,000 sheet 84

ancient stone steps of the old mass Path above Derrynane harbour

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Harbour’. Around 100m beyond the junction, the white gateposts of Derrynane House appear on the left. Pass through these and follow the lane past ornamental gardens to the house itself; both the house and grounds are worthy of further exploration if you have time. Pass round the building to the flagpoles at the seaward side of the house, then follow a grassy path away from the building to a wooden gate. This gives access to the back of the dunes. Turn left onto a grassy path signed with low markers for the dune nature trail. This leads you across a coastal meadow to a thicket of trees. Turn left at a junction beside the trees to return to the car park where the route began.


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Tour of Mont Blanc

Tour of

Mont B

Walker and the Chamonix Aiguilles reflected in Lac des Cheserys

32


t Blanc

Helen Fairbairn visited three countries and tackled numerous alpine passes to complete the most popular long-distance walk in Europe. Photos by Gareth McCormack

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Tour of Mont Blanc

T

he Beast of Champex has eaten my shoe!” The cry came echoing across the camping ground shortly after dawn, the words edged with more than a hint of terror. Those already out of their sleeping bags began to look about wildly, while anybody still under canvas hurried to extricate themselves. The Beast of Champex? What sort of monster were we talking about? The offending boot was passed round for inspection; at least thirty percent of the leather had indeed been removed, with a ring of saliva and tooth marks left to decorate the hole. Then somebody spotted the sign, pinned up on the campsite notice board. “Attention! Do not leave your shoes outside – Charley likes to eat them!” And beneath the words, a charming portrait of an endearing little cat. A guffaw of laughter passed around the group. The Beast of Champex was just a pussy cat with a peculiar fetish for sweat-infused leather. It didn’t help Stu, whose shoe had been consumed with six days of walking still to go, but it did give the rest of us a good laugh. Fortunately Stu managed to commandeer a spare pair of sandals, and the show hit the road again. The seven of us were on a mission

to complete the Tour of Mont Blanc – the most celebrated mountain walk in Europe – and it would take more than the Beast of Champex to hold us back.

Practicalities

Champex had provided the base for our sixth night on the trip, offering an opportunity to relax and refuel in a small Swiss village. Around half of our overnight stops had brought us down to valley floors, where we stayed in a succession of mountain hamlets. The rest of our nights had been spent up high, sleeping either in or near the area’s excellent network of mountain refuges. Such scenic and cultural variety is one of the key attractions of the circuit, and it’s hard to imagine a route that packs more diversity. In eleven days, the 170km-long trail visits three different countries and passes through a huge variety of alpine scenery, from soaring peaks and hanging glaciers to verdant valleys and peaceful forests. We started our trip in France, in the village of Les Houches, just south of Chamonix. It was here that the different attitudes of various members of our party were first revealed. Mick had packed in half an hour, throwing in anything and everything Walker negotiating a ladder above Argentiere that advertised

Walkers beneath Mont Blanc on the Balcon Sud, Chamonix Valley, France.

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an outdoor use. Fifty tent pegs? Bring them all. A half-kilo Leatherman tool? Might be useful, chuck it in. Others were more circumspect; Stu felt that personal hygiene was an unnecessary chore in the mountains, deodorant and soap being frivolities that a real outdoor man could do without, more than two pairs of underpants sheer indulgence. Gareth was hauling a seventylitre rucksack laden with camera kit, while Paul had opted for an unstructured day pack with notions of moving fast and light. As we progressed through the days, the advantages and disadvantages, muscle aches and smells resulting from each approach would become abundantly clear. Unfortunately our kit burden had been increased somewhat by the timing of our trip. We had decided to travel in early October, several weeks after the area’s mountain refuges had closed. The choice was deliberate – the trail would be empty, autumn foliage at its peak, and mountain solitude almost guaranteed. Though the path is clear of snow from around the end of May to the end of October, virtually all walkers tackle it between mid-June and mid-September, when


“Fifty tent pegs? Bring them all. A half-kilo Leatherman tool? Might be useful, chuck it in.” the huts are open. With up to 10,000 people visiting the trail annually and numerous organised walking tours, solitude can be a precious commodity during the summer months. Having completed the trail in peak season two years previously, I was particularly keen to tackle it now without the crowds. The extra weight of being self-sufficient was a small price to pay for a semi-wilderness experience in such a spectacular setting. And the scenery is incredible. The path circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif, allowing you to appreciate the highest mountain in western Europe, as well as its satellite peaks and spires, from every angle. Below the summits, the scenery is a showcase for the lakes, glaciers, flora and fauna that makes the Alps so alluring. The other major attraction for most

walkers is the physical challenge of completing the route. The trail crosses numerous passes above 2000m, and the total ascent of around 10,000m is put in perspective when you consider that the climb from the Base Camp to the summit of Everest is less than 4000m. If you’re carrying a pack full of camping gear in particular, the average daily ascent of almost 1000m soon begins to make itself felt.

Walkers on the Tour of Mont Blanc below the

Dawn over the Rifugio Elisabetta, Val Veni Crossing a swing bridge over Torrent Bionnassay

Getting Going We began to appreciate the solitude as soon as we got into the mountains proper. Day two began in the village of Les Contamines, and an all-day ascent of 1300m brought us slowly to the refuge at the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. The trail was deserted from the moment we left the valley floor, with herds of voluptuous alpine cows the only company as we made our way through the lower pastures. The meadows turned to rock as we gained height however, the scenery growing harsher and less forgiving. The sun was already setting as we arrived at our destination, a wooden

Evening light on the Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme

refuge whose lofty position gave it spectacular mountain views in all directions. Though the refuge was officially closed and all staff had left, the ‘winter room’ had been left open to provide shelter for out-of season visitors. In some alpine refuges the winter room is little more than a large cupboard with bunk beds, but here we opened the door to the most welcome sight imaginable. The entire refuge was open, with full kitchen and toilet facilities. Underfloor solar heating meant it was beautifully warm, even before we discovered the large stove and adjacent store brimming with chopped firewood. Exactly what the doctor ordered after a hard day’s toil and with the cold October night drawing in outside. The following day took us over two more high passes, including the Col des Fours, the joint-highest point of the route at 2665m. A patch of recent snow allowed a quick snowball fight, with the deep crevasses of the inspiringlynamed Glacier des Glaciers hovering overhead. Firewood stacked against an alpine chalet, Chamonix Valley

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Tour of Mont Blanc There are several places on the route where the trail splits, with the official route heading in one direction and an alternative – often harder – variente taking a different course. The Col des Fours was one such variant, still well-signed and following an obvious path, but offering a slightly wilder experience than the main trail. A 900m descent and 800m climb brought us to the second col of the day, where a ruinous customs hut marked our passage into Italy. The Rifugio Elisabetta provided another memorable night’s accommodation, with dinner cooked on camping stoves outside in the late evening sun. It was here that we began to reap another reward of our decision to walk this late in the year. For some reason the seasons seemed more advanced on this side of the mountain, the alpine scrub and valley trees resplendent in full autumn glory. All day we enjoyed uninterrupted views of Mont Blanc’s southern face, the towering rock walls and immense ice falls seeming just a stone’s throw across the valley.

Rest Day A descent into the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur meant mandatory pizza all round, and a rest day to recharge the batteries. Everybody took full advantage of a lazy morning, with more than one member of the group heading to the local pharmacy in an attempt to communicate the need for blister relief. The staff seemed all too familiar with dishevelled foreigners

“The ever-changing and often truly stunning vistas had kept us awe-inspired throughout.” Alpine Rhododendron and the Mont Blanc massif reflected in Lac des Cheserys,

36

Refuge de la Balme On Monte Saxe beneath the Grandes


Fact File

Getting There: The closest airports with access from Ireland are Geneva (from Dublin with Aer Lingus) or Grenoble (from Dublin with Ryanair). There are good bus and train links from both airports to the Chamonix Valley, at the start of the route. When to Go: The main walking season is from mid-June to mid-September, when the trail-side refuges are open. However the path is largely clear of snow from the end of May to the end of October, and trips are possible at this time if you carry your own camping gear. July and August are the busiest months. Places to Stay: The mountain refuges charge around ?20 for a dorm bed or ?45 for half board, though you’ll need to book in advance in high season. Access towns and villages generally offer a wide variety of accommodation options, from hostels and B&Bs to hotels. Most villages and refuges also have designated camp sites, which are either free or cost around ?6 per person. Guided Walks: Most walking tour operators offer trips on the Tour of Mont Blanc, with options ranging from a few days to two weeks’ walking. Expect to pay around ?1,300 for a 15-day trip. Alternatively you can walk independently, but have a company transport your bags between overnight stops. Further Information: Lonely Planet’s Hiking in the Alps combines a full route description with practical travel information. Other dedicated walking guides include Cicerone’s Tour of Mont Blanc or Explore the Tour of Mont Blanc by Rucksack Readers.

Evening light on the Chamonix Aiguilles

hobbling dramatically around their shop, and had a ready supply of Compeed to quieten the moans and groans. The human body is remarkably resilient however, and a few hours rest is all it took to transform us from physical wrecks to enthusiastic adventurers once more. The most immediate lure was the promise of one of the most challenging yet rewarding days of the entire circuit. Some 1600m of ascent brought us along a broad ridge with tremendous views of the Grandes Jorasses to the Rifugio Bonatti. It’s easy to become blasé when you pass sublime scenery on a daily basis, but the ever-changing and often truly stunning vistas presented by the previous three days of walking had kept us awe-inspired throughout. A couple of days through the southwestern corner of Switzerland brought us onto lower forest trails, and safely past our confrontation with the Beast of Champex. Then it was up again, through extensive swathes of wild blueberry – a trail-side snack much appreciated by both ourselves and a native ibex we watched gorging himself before the onset of winter. The rocky notch of the Fenêtre d’Arpette marked our second visit to 2665m, two sentinel spires and a huge boulder field protecting the pass itself. The following col brought us back onto French soil. Two further days of walking would lead us along the renowned balcony trail on the western side of the Chamonix valley, past all the most famous views of the Mont Blanc massif. We knew the stunning scenery and perfect trails would continue all the way back to Les Houches. The group exuded a palpable sense of accomplishment and fulfilment, and for me it had been just as enjoyable an experience second time round. The Tour of Mont Blanc had worked its magic again, and it had been a pleasure to share it with friends.

Male Ibex in autumnal foliage

Walkers heading towards the Col du Bonhomme

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If there’s one thing better than a day on the hills, it’s a night on the hills. Andy Callan talks camping gear.

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Gear

RichCanvas


We all love getting out into the hills, whether as climbers, walkers or something in between. The exercise, the feeling of space and the company (or lack of it!) releases loads of endorphins, hopefully just enough to leave you champing (hope that’s not a pun – Ed) at the bit in anticipation of your next trip. Days out are great, but the best way to get a real outdoor buzz going is to take a couple of days in succession; better still to immerse yourself in that feeling of “getting away from it all” by camping in the mountains. Nothing else stimulates the spirit of self-reliance like packing everything needed into your sack and getting into somewhere really remote so you can knock off a couple of those hills you’ve been planning for ages. Imagine the feeling of walking up in an isolated spot, unzipping the tent door and being greeted by the sight of a herd of deer grazing idly less than 100metres away, or watching a

raven circling above your chosen corrie. Sometimes it’s even better when you look out and see or hear absolutely nothing at all. So this time around we’re looking at camping gear, specifically tents, stoves and cookware. Mountain camping became very much a niche activity during the boom years but now that fiscal rectitude has taken hold of us, I reckon that the cost of B+Bs, hotels etc may encourage hill-goers to try something much more basic and a lot cheaper. Even hostel rates can be fairly steep considering you’re only looking for a bed for the night. Of course the initial outlay for a your camping gear can be quite expensive, but properly maintained and stored it’ll last for years, I know of a couple of people who inherited their first tent from parents!

 Choosing a Tent

In order to make an informed choice about the tent you should consider three questions: Where and when are you camping? How many are there of you? How much weight are you prepared to carry?

Seasons and Conditions

Firstly, don’t bother with anything less than a 3 season tent for any sort of ‘wild’ camping. You can buy something cheaper, but quality materials will pay for themselves in the long run and they’re less likely to let you down. Three Season Tents are real all-rounders offering good ventilation in late spring, summer and early autumn combined with sturdy shelter in all weathers with the exception of heavy snowfall and very high winds. Many 3 season models use large areas of mesh in the inner, this reduces condensation and in hotter climbs they could be

used without the flysheet (outer) as a bug-proof shelter. Such tents will be noticeably colder when temperatures drop however, but their versatility and lighter weights makes them ideal for backpacking. Four Season Tents are built to protect you in bad weather. They use heavier poles and low, curvier profiles to shed snow and deflect wind, with extra guylines to give more security. All this extra protection comes through the use of heavier fabrics and thicker waterproof coatings, this certainly makes for better weatherproofing but condensation can become a problem. Obviously fabric choice etc has a knock-on-effect on weight and packed size to the extent that a four-season model might be too much tent for anything other than winter camping or mountaineering. Single Wall Tents are designed for expeditions or fourseason users. The lack of a conventional fly means the weight per person is similar to that of a bivi sack, and no inner means the maximum amount of interior space and headroom. These tents are made of waterproof/ breathable fabrics so they work best in cooler, drier conditions i.e. above the snowline, rather than in the heat and humidity of summer or sea-level sites.

Tent Site Selection – an Idiot's Guide Away from habitation, above the last fence, close to water.

Check for stones, bracken etc. You want to be comfy and not have a broken twig come through your ground sheet.

Pitch end-on to the wind behind a windbreak if possible, place pegs at 45 degrees to the ground.

On sloping sites sleep with your head uphill.

Avoid hollows, which tend to be damp and hold cold air or frost.

Pack your tent at the top of your sack, this saves having to pull all your gear out and possibly getting wet or lost.

I usually pack the tent last feeding it into the gaps between the other items. When breaking camp it’s the last thing into my sack again – if it’s wet I slide it between the rucksack and its liner bag.

Site your toilet area downhill from your tent and at least 60m away from any water source. Bury your waste 15-20cms deep – a small trowel is ideal – and burn or bag toilet paper etc.

When you break camp collect all rubbish including biodegradable such as fruit peel, matches etc which can take years to break down in a mountain environment. Replace any rocks you’ve moved so the pitch looks as if you were never there.

Gear

39


Size and Shape If all you want to do is crawl in at bedtime and back out again first thing in the morning then a 2 man tent fits 2, in fact it might be more efficient to think about using bivi bags rather than a conventional tent. But if you want a convivial camp or you end up spending long periods inside your tent due to bad weather then a “2 man coffin” will test a friendship all the way to its limits and beyond! A bit more space than necessary can be a real blessing so think about a tent with the capacity for 1 more person than planned. Free-standing tents assume their shape (usually dome-like) as soon as you fit the poles. Their design allows you to move them short distances, say to avoid rocks or prevent killing vegetation underneath if using the same site for an extended period. They also provide more usable space than tunnel tents. A free-standing shape is inherently stronger, so it flaps about less in the wind and should shed rain or snow better too. Tunnel tents hand from hoops or arch-shaped poles and need their ends tensioned to keep their shape. Generally speaking, they’re lighter and take up less pack space than similarly sized Dome tents. In mild conditions they may need as few as 3-4 pegs, ideal if you’ve a reliable forecast, but when conditions worsen you may have a lot of relatively unsupported fabric which can get quite noisy and sway about alarmingly. Tents with similar floor area will feel markedly differently on how this shape is laid out. Tunnel tents have efficient elongated shapes whereas Domes allow more room to sit and socialise.

Weight and Features Tent specifications often refer to “minimum” and “packaged” weights. Minimum weight includes the tent and frame and the least number of pegs required to pitch the tent in ideal conditions. Packaged weight includes the full tent,

instructions, stuff sacks, repair kit, all pegs and guylines. In the race to get the lightest tent on the market, manufacturers often quote minimum weights rather than a more usable figure. On top of that to save weight they also use thinner fabrics, smaller pegs and a tiny porch so your tent may be lighter but how long will it last and does it provide liveable space? The further you intend carrying your tent the more weight becomes an issue. If you intend car camping or you’re taking the tent a relatively short distance and then working form a fixed base for a few days then a bigger, heavier tent might be worthwhile. If you’re going to carry your tent all day, everyday then you’ll want a lighter shelter. Features like dual doors and porches make life more comfortable but add weight (and euros!) so you’ll have to decide what’s most important to you.

Features

Porches (vestibules if you’re on the far side of the Atlantic) really make a tent much more liveable, great for storing gear, putting on boots or making a brew – if you keep the stove well away from the fabric. Porches that are supported by poles are larger and more weather proof but also heavier. Pole sleeves create less stress on the inners canopy than clips; continuous sleeves make life much easier when you’re putting the tent up in a hurry, especially if both poles and sleeves are colour coded. On the other hand clips allow a bit more air to circulate between the inner and flysheet for better ventilation and less condensation. Hooded vents let air circulate in any weather conditions. Last but not least the eternal question – Inner or Flysheet first? A tent that pitches fly first means once the fly is up you can sort out the rest under the cover. But those that pitch inner first generally keep greater tension on the flysheet making it more weatherproof and less inclined to flap about. If it’s raining then obviously your inner-first tent will get slightly wet while you’re putting it up – all the more reason for plenty of practice before you do it for real.

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Tent Tests

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GoLite Eden 2

?375/£300

A very strange tent when you first see it erected, the GoLite Eden 2 is a “sort of” Tunnel design with the larger middle pole slightly askew. As the name suggests it’s a 2 man model weighing 2.29kg. I was surprised to see that it weighed that much, when I passed it around during testing we all reckoned that it would be less than 2kg! This is a fairly spacious tent; plenty of room for two people with massive porches on each side so separating wet kit from dry won’t be a problem. The inner is mostly mesh which makes it very airy, great in summer but noticeably chillier on cold nights. Ventilation is very good through covered vents at the doors and either end at ground level. These end vents work particularly well and there’s more than enough cover from the outer to prevent windblown rain from getting in. Pitching is simple;

put the poles into the colour coded sleeves and peg out the ends – up she pops! The flysheet is permanently attached to the inner which makes it a very stable and weather proof unit. It does however make it awkward to dry out and packing in your rucksack by squeezing it in around other gear isn’t an option as I suggested in the intro. This isn’t a major problem however; just redistribute the shared gear between you and your companion so neither feels like they’re being saddled. As I said, it only takes two pegs to get the tent up, 14 are supplied and they’re sturdy v-section ones with nice rounded tops that don’t hurt your hands. The Eden 2 will stand up to all but the worst weather and provides plenty of usable space; it’s made from good quality lightweight materials and is great value at this price.


To advertise in Walking World Ireland telephone (05786) 45343

E: walkingworldirl@iol.ie

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GoLite Eden 2

MSR Hubba Hubba HP

?465 / £335

The middle variant of the Hubba high performance series the Hubba Hubba Hp weighs a measly 1930g packaged, but still provides enough headroom for its 2 occupants to sit up inside. Again the inner is almost all mesh so it can be used as a freestanding insect proof shelter should conditions permit. Pitching is straightforward, stake out the inner, secure the spider-like poles in their grommets, clip the inner to the poles and then drape the fly over the top. Simply peg out the rest of the outer and you’re done. Sounds good so far and in fairness the Hubba 2 is light and spacious but it does have a few problems. Firstly ditch the Titanium nail pegs provided, too hard on the hands and they’ll pull through soft ground. It’s also quite hard to get the guylines to stay on the pegs and they’re easy to miss when you’re breaking camp. The other issue is also a weight-saving one in that the flysheet only has a Hydrostatic head of 1000m, less than the other tents tested, even if it is silicone coated its likely not to last as long. Lastly the flysheet doesn’t come as close to the ground as others tested, not great it you’re in one

of those storms where the rain is almost horizontal. This an ideal tent if travelling light is your major worry, but I have a few concerns regarding just how 3-season ready it is in Irish conditions, plus all those weight saving features are expensive.

MSR Carbon Reflex 2 ?480 / £350

Similar to the Hubba in its floor plan etc, but with some more weight saving changes, the Carbon Reflex 2 shaves its packaged weight to 1490g. The main differences are its Carbon Fibre poles and only having 1 door, meaning a “3am crawl-over” if you’re furthest from the door! My other comments re the Hubba Hubba still stand and it’s hard to justify the extra expense when you’re sharing the weight between 2. Makes you wonder how light tents could possibly get in the not too distant future though…..

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?580 / £440

That clunk you just heard was your jaw hitting off the coffee table when you saw the Asgards’ price. But hold on, before “Angry from Crossmolina” sends something suitably vitriolic to the editor enquiring as to my mental state, this is not a run-of-the –mill back packers portable shelter. The Asgard is a 2 man expedition tent suitable for the worst conditions a remote location can throw at you. When I say 2 man, in truth it’s spacious enough for 3, making the cost a bit more justifiable and allowing plenty of space for tons of gear, games of fullcontact snap and delaying the onset of cabin fever. With a supported porch and doors at each end, there are acres of elbow room and the steep sides mean that it’s not just in the centre of the tent either. All this has a downside of course – price obviously, but weight also increases to a sizeable 3.36kg. Pitching is reasonably easy (it would be simpler if the shorter middle pole was colour coded), just fit the poles into the continuous, closed-ended sleeves and then fit the Asgard’s secret weapon the Bow frame, a pole which runs around the upper part of the tent supporting the porches and making the tent much more rigid. The rest is easy enough to make 1 person pitching possible with a bit of practice, when erect you can sit a 45 pound rucksack on top according to one review I read and yes; I’ve tried it and its true! Once inside there’s ample storage and the groundsheet feels almost bullet-proof with a Hydrostatic head of 10000mm. This negates the need to carry a separate “footprint” or groundsheet protector again to help justify the cost and weight. One of the things that really grabbed me were the groundhog stakes supplied, ideal for anchoring the Asgard in any soil conditions. Did I like the Asgard? It’s fairly obvious that I’m more than impressed, I wouldn’t be recommending it for a quick 1 night camping trip but for serious stuff or as a fixed base option it’s up there with the best. Might have to make MSR an offer on this one methinks…..

Wild Country Aspect 2 ?180 / £150.00

A 2 person Tunnel tent weighing a respectable 2.2kg, the Aspect 2 pitches fly-first and has 2 sidefacing doors. One door has no porch and is purely to allow access without having to climb across the other occupant. The main full length door can also be turned into an awning if you buy the separate poles. Out on the hills, I found the Aspect 2 a bit strange, there was plenty of space inside but it still felt cramped – a bit like a tarids in reverse! Maybe I’d been spoiled by some of the other tents on test, but I thought whoever ended up away from the

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Gear

porch side was getting the rough end of the stick. The porch itself runs the length of the tent but is quite shallow so room for both of your sacks is at a premium. Ventilation is good through the wide roof vents and half mesh doors, unusually the inner is made if fabric rather than mesh so it’s quite warm inside. Given a 3-4 season backpacking rating by Wild Country, the flysheet has a Hydrostatic head of 3000mm while the groundsheet is 5000m. I see it more aimed at the cycle touring market than as a mountain tent, there are only 2 guylines fitted so it’s not meant for exposed sites. Outer-first pitching allows you to get your gear out of the weather while you clip up the inner, the use of fastex buckles or clips at the corners of the inner would have made this easier. My major gripe was the number and type of pegs given 10 are needed but only 7 supplied and while the spec says they’re alloy v-channels mine were all skewers. Despite that the Aspect 2 is well made and decent value at this price, just remember to bring extra pegs.

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Robens Voyager 2

?170 / £140

A neat little Tunnel tent with a sloping foot, the Voyager 2 weighs 2.8kgs (packaged). Headroom is reasonable at the door end and porch space is good but don’t expect this to be a party tent. Pitching is quick thanks to the colour coded poles; once you spot the colours on the tips slide the pole into the ? length sleeve and pop it into the big receiver at the open end. Then swap on the sturdy clip, tension the sleeve and then you can start pegging out. Fitting the inner is easy thanks

Robens Kestrel 3

to the clips and fastex buckles. The Voyager 2 is fitted with 4 guylines which are well anchored to the outer and it comes with the right number of pegs, but they’re all skewers so I supplemented them with a few channel pegs of my own. This is quite a sturdy tent; given that you only have two poles supporting the fabric, the flysheet comes right down to ground level and this helps make it very weatherproof, especially with a hydrostatic head of 5000mm on the flysheet.

?300 / £250

The Kestrel 3 is a spacious 3 person dome tent that pitches inner first weighing 2.8kg packaged. Pitching this tent is very awkward because of the number of fiddly clips and is certainly not a one man job. You have the advantage of 2 doors, but porch space is limited even if internal space is quite good. In fairness, the Kestrel 3 is a valley tent and accordingly doesn’t have the same specs as models suited to higher more exposed sites, but I thought it was quite expensive for what it offers the backpacker.

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€41.95 / £35

MSR Quick 2 System

€89.95 / £70

A 20 piece kitchen set complete with everything required to turn out a-la-carte meals, the MSR Alpine Kitchen set weighs in at 15oz/425g. Contents include folding spatula, spoon and strainer, scrub pad, chopping board, salt/pepper shaker, 3 ziplock bags, plastic organizer bowl with zipped pouch and lid, and a total of 9 plastic bottles of various sizes from 0.67-3.0oz, some with squeezy caps. This is as comprehensive a set as I’ve seen anywhere, ideal for a base camp, longer trips or car camping. If you’re going light, then pick the bits you consider necessary, put them in the neat little zipped pouch and leave the rest at home. The range of plastic bottles supplied are really handy, more than sufficient for any combination of spices, olive oil, washing up liquid or travel wash – just remember to label everything clearly - grub with bubbles in it isn’t too appetising!

The Quick 2 System is a high quality 2-person cook set comprising a 1.5 litre non-stick pot, another 2.5 litre hard anodized pot, strainer lid, 2 insulated mugs, 2 “DeepDish” plates/bowls and a pot handle. Again it’s a pick-and–mix affair; you can bring what you want in line with the length of your trip and the amount of hardship you’re willing to bear. The pots are sturdy, the strainer lid makes life a lot easier and the “Talon” handle is great, it locks in place so there’s no fear of it tipping the wrong way. Both mugs and plates are coloured red and black for those who are obsessive about using their own utensils. I’ve seen comments elsewhere complaining that these aren’t graduated for cooking purposes, but their volumes (0.4, 0.75l) are clearly marked on the base and anything smaller can be judged by eye, or why not add your own marks? The Quick 2 System isn’t something I’d be carrying on every trip as it weighs 795g complete, but its individual components are well made and give you loads of options depending on your needs. My only gripe is the lack of a frying pan for my favourite camping breakfast - banana-topped cinnamon pancakes...

Camping Accessories

MSR Alpine Kitchen Set

NewGear

GoLite Peak Rucksack

£85.00

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Gear

New for 2010 the the GoLite Peak sack comes in 36, 38 or 40 litre capacities depending on your backlength. This should make it ideal as a weekend or winter sack, but its main advantage is its weight of only 840g. Features are fairly standard, walking pole/ice axe loops, wand pockets, compression straps, and a hydration sleeve but you can also remove the hipbelt to strip away even more weight. This sounds great in theory and many alpine climbing sacks have a similar feature so you can have unimpeded access to your climbing harness, but here it leaves all 40 litres worth of weight sitting on your shoulders to no good effect. Making the hipbelt removable has made it useless for anything other than stuffing small things in its zipped pockets and the test model had an annoying tendency to pop open if you tried cranking it tight enough to bear the load. The Peak has no lid you pull the top drawstring, roll it over and secure it with a strap, not a completely weatherproof solution especially if it’s slightly overfull. This lidless design has the main zipped pocket on the bag’s front, the pocket is massive but it’s hard to see what’s inside which can be a real nuisance. I reckon GoLite need to ditch the hipbelt and top closure and go back to something more reliable to turn the Peak around into a sack that’s suitable for Irish/ European users.

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A hot meal at the start or end of a day in the hills is a great morale booster and vital if conditions are inclement (for “inclement”, read chucking it down), so a stove that works efficiently is a must. Stoves fall into 3 categories - Pressure, Gas and Meths and here’s a quick guide to their pluses and minuses.

Pressure Stoves

Burn hot and very fuel efficient on pressurised petroleum in various forms. Some expedition stoves also burn diesel, kerosene white gas and vodka, allegedly…. Can be a bit complicated and may need some “field maintenance” so keep the instructions handy. They don’t light instantly and any petroleum product tends to be very volatile. Always use the cleanest fuel available (i.e. unleaded) for performance and long life. Always carry petrol in an approved container and don’t assume that the aluminium bottle that looks the same as the expensive pressure tested bottle supplied will so the same job. It’s very easy to make a homemade selfengulfing fireball.

As you can see from all the above, gas cartridge stoves have significant advantages over the other types available, once you’re confident about the availability of replacement cartridges. As a result, all the stoves tested are variants on this theme.

MSR Reactor

Gas Cartridge

Lights instantly and very controllable making it a very safe fuel, especially if using modern self-sealing cartridges. Output/performance decreases as pressure drops within the cartridge, this also occurs in freezing temperatures. Cartridges with a 70/30 Butane/Propane mix work better in the cold but should still be insulated from the ground – a spare hat or big glove does the trick. Use a fresh cartridge to bring water to the boil and then quickly swap it with an almost empty one for simmering. Gas cartridges work really well at altitude, the lower air pressure forces out the gas quicker even in very cold conditions. Cartridges are easily obtained in the western world in camping or hardware outlets and often in grocery stores in mountain areas. It may be more difficult to source them elsewhere and not all cartridges may be compatible with your stove.

Meths

I reckon most people’s first camping meal was probably cooked on the ubiquitous Trangia an almost idiot-proof, maintenance-free stove. I say almost idiot-proof, but a Meths flame is hard to see in bright sunlight so it’s easy to burn your hand on an “unlit” stove. Check by dropping a dead match into the burner before refilling it. Meths only gives off about half the heat of other fuels so boiling times are twice as long and twice as much Meths is needed. Figure on 500ml per person per week for summer backpacking. Meths can be bought through chemists, camping and hardware stores but availability can be very dodgy. Just like petrol make sure it’s carried in a leak-proof container; meths-soaked sandwiches don’t figure on too many gourmet menus.

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Stoves

StoveTests

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?160/£110

“And now for something completely different” to quote Monty Python. MSR’s Reactor stove arose phoenix-like as the dust settled in the wake of Jetboil’s PCS launch. Instead of coming up with a variation on the same theme, however, they developed a true alpine stove that delivers heat directly to the base of its own dedicated 1.7 litre pot. The pot itself has a proper folding handle with a see-through, easily lifted lid. It’s a heavier unit than the Jetboil but can be used for more than just noodles etc. Its flame is housed in a metal casing in a Metflame metal/foam layer under a protective grille. This Metflame lets gas burn inside its structure, so there’s no naked flame which can be affected by wind. The pan slots onto the burner and also uses a heat exchanger for even greater efficiency so the maximum amount of heat is directed at the pan’s base and up to about 3cm above, unlike conventional stoves where a lot of heat just escapes around the sides. Boil time for 1 litre of water was about 3 mins, much faster than the opposition but it is heavier on gas, going through a canister in about 2/3 the time of the Jetboil. On the plus side though, boil times are consistent until the can is almost empty due to the Reactor’s internal pressure regulator. With a total weight of 564g, it’s a fair bit heavier than the PCS (433g) but it’s also a much bigger unit and cooking for 2 or more at once is no big deal. In the long run the Reactor isn’t a normal backpackers stove, it’s aimed at alpine or extreme situations and this is reflected in its price. High performance costs both in shekels and weight, but it shows where stoves and outdoor cooking is headed and is much more adaptable than some of the 1 man units tested. On top of that, it’s the ideal stove for winter or more extreme conditions, due to being virtually windproof and its consistent performance.

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MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR ADVENTURES

RUNNING | BIKING | KAYAKING | HIKING | CLIMBING | SAILING SURFING | CAMPING | TRAVEL | BEACH | FESTIVAL.. AND MANY MORE!


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?110 / £90

Coming complete with its own 0.9litre Titanium pot/mug, big enough to hold a standard 230g gas cartridge, the Primus TiLite weighs 198 and will boil its 0.9 litres of water in 3 mins. Unlike the Pocket Rocket it’s fitted with a Piezo Igniter, though I still carry the Firesteel just in case… This is also a cartridgemounted unit so the provisos re. tipping over still apply, Primus also make a Footprint kit for stabilising the cartridge. It’s also worth looking at their Windscreen, this fits around the cartridge neck and significantly reduces boiling times and fuel used. When packed away the windscreen fits inside the TiLite’s pot. All-in-all a very handy combination for lightweight freaks.

MSR Pocket Rocket

?40 / �£30

Weighing a ridiculously light 94g the Pocket Rocket boils a litre of water in just over 3 mins and a cartridge will give you almost 2hrs of cooking time or 35+ litres of boiling water if my maths is right. It’s a beautifully simple design with wide pan supports and an easy-grip regulator. It has one disadvantage in that it doesn’t have a Piezo Electric igniter so keep a lighter or Firesteel handy. Like all other cartridge mounted stoves it can also be a bit tippy so either dig it in to the turf or place it on a flat rock to prevent spills. Better still, several stove manufacturers make small plastic tripods that clip onto the bottom of standard gas cartridges, the Pocket Rocket is an ideal candidate for one of these and exceptionally good value for money.

Jetboil Personal Cooking System ?82.50 / �£70

When Jetboil’s PCS burst onto the lightweight camping scene 3 or 4 years back with its 70-80% efficient heat exchanger it forced other manufacturers to rethink their designs. For that alone Jetboil deserve a big vote of thanks but they’ve also developed a range of accessories that turn this one-pot stove into something that should suit most users. The insulated mug holds 1 litre but you should only half fill it if you’re boiling water, this ½ litre will take 2 mins to bring to the boil. When packed away the whole thing fits inside the cup, but only if you’re using the smaller gas cartridges. The system can be upgraded for group cooking by buying a 1.5 litre cooking pot which makes it more versatile if you want something more than noodles or dehydrated meals. when assembled it’s a very tall unit so the additional cartridge stabiliser is vital and those who can’t start the day without a cup of java will be delighted to know that a coffee press is also available.

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Nature

M

any people enjoy nature - and I suspect recreational walkers enjoy it more than most. It’s a universal phenomenon, though it may be strongest among people who live in unnatural environments such as towns and cities. It’s also very ancient - songs, poems and essays on the joys of nature are as old as literature. But why? What is it in the natural world that gives us so much pleasure? To answer the question I think we have to look at the history of our species. It’s not that long a history, on an evolutionary scale, because modern humans only appeared about 200,000 years ago in and around the African Rift Valley. Although there is some scholarly debate about this, it’s likely that the first of several human migrations out of Africa took place about 70,000 years ago. We

then lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers until the beginning of the Neolithic Revolution about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East. The Neolithic invention of agriculture allowed people to build permanent settlements which eventually became villages, town and cities and also to build things like Newgrange and the Great Pyramid. This paved the way for the development of what we like to call civilisation. But if you take the history of our species to be 200,000 years and the history of civilisation to be, at the most generous estimate, 10,000, years then for 95 percent of our history we have been uncivilised. Being uncivilised, in this context, meant being totally part of nature - after all there was no alternative. We depended for our survival on our understanding of the natural environment and our appreciation of the threats it posed and the opportunities it offered. There is recent genetic evidence to

suggest that the threats were very real because it seems that at one stage the total population of humans in the world was reduced to between 1,000 and 10,000 breeding pairs. World population is now just under 7 billion. With a history like that, which includes the near extinction of our species, you’d think that we might end up distrusting and disliking nature. But this is where the phenomenon of genetic memory comes into play. Genetic memory is memory that is inherited rather than derived from experience. It undoubtedly exists in humans and most other higher animals, though in animals we often label it as instinct. It is genetic memory that allows a young swallow hatched in Ireland to find its way back to Africa a fortnight after its parents have left or prompts your dog to bury a bone in the vegetable garden. A behavioural scientist in

Our appreciation of nature may just be the most natural thing about us, says Dick Warner

Joys The

of Nature

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“For 95 percent of our history we have been uncivilised.” the United States once threw a short length of hose pipe into an enclosure containing chimpanzees. The chimps panicked because they thought it was a snake. But that chimpanzee colony had been born in captivity for more then ten generations and none of those generations had ever seen a snake. Many Irish people are nervous of spiders and in some it becomes a full-blown phobia. There are no dangerous spiders in Ireland but there are plenty in Africa where your ancestors lived 70,000 years ago. One of my sons, when he was very young, suffered from recurrent nightmares in which a very large cat came out of the darkness and carried him off. But genetic memory is not just about phobias and things we dislike. It also carries information about things that we do like, things that stimulate the pleasure centres in our brain. This, I think, is the explanation for the joys of nature. I look around as I’m writing this. I’m sitting on the patio in the shade of a tree

because it’s sunny and I need to be able to see the screen. In front of me is a rock garden with two pools connected by a waterfall. There are fish in the lower pool. Behind me is a barbeque area - not a gas barbeque, one that burns charcoal or wood. Everything is very green. I created this environment over a number of years but I never designed it. I just gradually transformed a barren area into a place where I felt good. But if I look at it now I think my genetic memory was urging me to create a facsimile of an environment my ancestors lived in tens of thousands of years ago. Later on today I will obey a strange urge to abandon an efficient and modern kitchen and light a fire outdoors. I’ll grill meat and then eat some strawberries. Surely this is atavistic? My late father was a pipe smoker and he always claimed that one of the chief pleasures of a pipe was that it allowed him the satisfaction of kindling a small fire in its bowl several times a day. The ability to control fire seems to be something that we developed very early in

our history. In fact there is a modern theory that it’s when we learned to use fire to cook food, which meant that we got more nutritional advantage from it and had to spend less time chewing, that we shot away from the other anthropoid apes and became truly human. Cookery may be the skill that got us where we are today. But let’s get back to the joys of nature. If you accept that genetic memory plays a much larger role in our lives than most people acknowledge and if you accept that for at least 95 percent of our history we were a part of nature, it’s not surprising that we should enjoy returning to it. Try analysing what goes on in your brain when you’re selecting a place to go walking. You might head for the high hills, you might chose a forest or a towpath beside water. If I ask you to explain your choice you’ll probably say something like: ‘because it’s beautiful’ or ‘because I like it there’. But maybe, just maybe, you’re listening to the voices of your ancestors who lived and died fifty millennia ago.

there's no place like home: africa's rift Valley

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Placenames

Lost in Translation? The origins of the names we give our mountains are not always as obvious as we think, says Paul Tempan

E

very Irish schoolchild learns in geography that the country’s shape is like that of a saucer, or, as the wandering scholar Robert Lloyd Praeger put it, ‘ancient crumplings of the Earth’s crust have resulted in the formation of mountain ranges in the coastal regions, leaving a broad, low plain in the centre’. Most of our major mountain areas, like the Mournes, Wicklow, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the Twelve Bens and the

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Derryveagh Mountains are only a stone’s throw from the sea (for Fionn Mac Cumhaill, at least). But have you ever wondered where the names of these ranges come from? Some mountain areas are named from aspects of the landscape. The Burren in Co. Clare comes from the Irish word boireann meaning simply ‘rocky district’, an apt name for a region characterised by vast expanses of bare limestone pavement. The word boirche, which occurs in Beanna Boirche, the Irish name of the Mourne Mountains, probably has a similar origin and meaning. Here the dominant rock is granite, which bursts through the soil to form ‘tors’ like the outcrops on Slieve Binnian and Slieve Bearnagh. In folklore, Boirche is a prince who is cowherd to the King of

Ulster. He keeps watch over his herd from the mountain tops. The Comeragh Mountains of Co. Waterford are also named from a characteristic of the landscape. In the Leabhar Muimhneach (Book of Munster) they are called na Cumaracha, a name which comes from cumar, the Irish for ‘ravine’. Though the Comeraghs are rugged, they do not have many distinctive peaks, since they culminate in a plateau, but the flanks of the massif are gouged on all sides by ravines, or glacial cooms to be more precise. These are named Coummahon, Coumtay, Coumfea, Coumalocha, Coumlara, Coumduala, Coum Iarthar, Coum Gaurha and Coumshingaun. Slieve Bernagh in Co. Clare is the ‘gapped mountain range’, because it is cut in two by the glen that runs from Broadford to O’Brien’s Bridge. Brian Boru was born near Killaloe and is


connected with Balboru (Béal Bórú), an earthen ring-fort nearby, so don’t be surprised if you meet the ghost of the High-King hiking around Slieve Bernagh! Natural resources are alluded to in Slieve Anierin, Co. Leitrim, from Sliabh an Iarainn meaning ‘mountain of the iron’. The nearby Arigna Mountains are better known for the exploitation of coal. The Silver Mine Mountains are called Sliabh an Airgid in Irish, ‘mountain of the silver’. There is a reference to the extraction of silver and lead in this part of Co. Tipperary as early as 1289. The mines were opened and worked by a colony of Italian merchants from Florence and Genoa. Myth and legend also account for a share of the names. Slieve Bloom, which is an exception to the pattern of coastal mountains, being close to the centre of Ireland, is named after Bladhma, a Milesian invader of Ireland. The pagan goddesses Mis and Echtge are remembered in the names Sliabh Mis (anglicised Slieve Mish, or Slemish in the case of its Ulster namesake) and Sliabh Eachtaí (Slieve Aughty). Another goddess is Ebliu, who gave name to Sliabh Eibhlinne, though this has largely been forgotten, because this name is anglicised as Slieve Felim, as if named after one of the Munster kings called Feidhlimidh (Phelim). The Twelve Bens of Connemara have a totally different name in Irish, Beanna Beola,

‘the peaks of Beola’. This Beola is a legendary giant who is said to be buried at Tuaim Beola, ‘tomb of Beola’. He is also alluded to in nearby Greatman’s Bay, a translation of Cuan an Fhir Mhóir. There is also something of the supernatural about the Sheeffry Hills, a name derived from Cnoic Shíofra, ‘hills of Síofra’. This name contains the element sí, ‘fairy’, and means ‘changeling’. The Partry Mountains, Arra Mountains, Forth Mountain and Dartry Mountains are all named after early population groups. Local chieftains or prominent families are remembered in names such as the Nagles Mountains, Walsh Mountains, Stacks Mountains and MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. Joyce Country, inland from Connemara, is named after a family of Welsh origin who settled in this area in the 13th century. A personal name is also hidden in the Knockmealdown Mountains, namely Maol Domhnaigh, though as a surname this is usually anglicised as Muldowney or Moloney. Sometimes the relationship between the Irish and English forms of names is quite convoluted. Sliabh Gamh is anglicised as Slieve Gamph, but there is a wellestablished alternative name: the Ox Mountains. This is a translation, or rather a mis-translation, as if the second word were damh, ‘ox’. In fact, the name means ‘mountain of storms’. The Irish name for the Ballyhoura Mountains is Sliabh

Riabhach, ‘grey or brindled mountainrange’, but Ballyhoura is from a completely different name: Bealach Abhra was an ancient route or pass through these hills. The most common Irish word for a mountain range is sliabh, which we see in names like Sliabh Speirín (the Sperrin Mountains) and Sliabh Mioscais (Slieve Miskish). It is rather disguised in Bricshliabh (the Bricklieve Mountains), and even more so in Corrshliabh (the Curlew Mountains). Although it can also mean an individual mountain, sliabh still usually appears in the singular when it refers to a whole range. The names with the plural form sléibhte are mostly modern translations of cartographers’ names, such as Sléibhte Dhoire Bheatha (Derryveagh Mountains) or Sléibhte Ghleann Domhain (Glendowan Mountains). We’ve already seen that beanna, the plural of binn, ‘peak’, occurs in Beanna Boirche and Beanna Beola. Another term is cruach, ‘stack’, which we find in na Cruacha Gorma, the Bluestack Mountains in Donegal (locally called ‘the Crows’) and in the name of our highest mountains, na Cruacha Dubha, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. Reek is a form of the English word rick, meaning ‘a stack’, as in hay-rick, so it is really just another way of translating Irish cruach. This also explains why our most frequently climbed mountain, Croagh Patrick, is locally known as ‘the Reek���.

“Sometimes the relationship between the Irish and English forms of names is quite convoluted.”

Slieve anierin; 'mountain of the iron'

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Subscribe NOW for our BEST EVER VALUE OFFER and Glenveagh National Park. Three kilometres north of Kilmacrennan take a left turn onto the R251, signposted for the national park. Follow this road for about twenty kilometres until you see the cones of Aghla Beg South and Aghla More rising above a forestry plantation on the right. Go slow as you sweep down onto a long stretch of straight road with Sand Lough down on the left. Look out for a track entrance on the right where there is parking for two cars (GR: B 953 205). The route starts and finishes here. If there is no room to park, drive on for 800m to the formal car park at the foot of Errigal, and return to the track on foot.

The Aghlas

The Walk Set off along the track, which heads straight across the bog towards the eastern shoulder of Mackoght. Follow it around a large hairpin and then up to a shallow col. Soon the track begins to descend steeply along the west side of a small valley, and

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MSR Hubba Hubba ?465 he HP Aghlas are a trio/of£335 vertical ascent and descent. The middle variant of the Hubba performance gracefulhigh conical summits series the Hubba Hubba Hp weighs a measly 1930g

situated just northeast of

Photos by Gareth McCormack

12 GREAT WALKS

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This approach from the south is the hardest route on the Aghlas, but with

of character and variety, despite the Hubba 2full is light and spacious but itand does have a poles are recommended. few problems. theofTitanium theFirstly modestditch height the peaksnail pegs I’ve taken the liberty of renaming the provided, too hard on the they’ll pullof themselves, stillhands packs and in over 900m highest summit in the Aghlas as Aghla through soft ground. It’s also quite hard to get the guylines to stay on the pegs and they’re easy to miss of those storms where the rain is when you’re breaking camp. The other issue is also a almost horizontal. This an ideal tent if weight-saving one in that the flysheet only has a travelling light is your major worry, but I have a few Hydrostatic head of 1000m, less than the other tents concerns regarding just how 3-season ready it is in tested, even if it is silicone coated its likely not to last Irish conditions, plus all those weight saving features as long. Lastly the flysheet doesn’t come as close to are expensive. the ground as others tested, not great it you’re in one

Beg South. On the OS map it is unnamed, and the name Aghla Beg is given to a slightly lower summit to the north. Aghla More is itself 19m lower than Aghla Beg South. One explanation offered for the apparent mislabelling of summits using ‘beag’ and ‘mór’ is that those applying the original names were more interested in acreage than in height.

Getting to the Start

Wild Country Aspect 2

?180 / £150.00 Most people will be approaching the Aghlas from Letterkenny. Take the N56, A 2 person Tunnel tent weighing a respectable 2.2kg, the Aspect 2 pitches fly-first and has 2 sidesignposted for Kilmacrennan, Dunfanaghy

facing doors. One door has no porch and is purely Altan access Farm, with Aghlahaving More behind to allow without to climb across the other occupant. The main full length door can also be turned into an awning if you buy the separate poles. Out on the hills, I found the Aspect 2 a bit strange, there was plenty of space inside but it still felt cramped – a bit like a tarids in reverse! Maybe I’d been spoiled by some of the other tents on test, but I thought whoever ended up away from the

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MSR Carbon Reflex 2 ?480 / £350

Similar to the Hubba in its floor plan etc, but with some more weight saving changes, the Carbon Reflex 2 shaves its packaged weight to 1490g. The main differences are its Carbon Fibre poles and only having 1 door, meaning a “3am crawl-over” if you’re furthest from the door! My other comments re the Hubba Hubba still stand and it’s hard to justify the extra expense when you’re sharing the weight between 2. Makes you wonder how light tents could possibly get in the not too distant future though…..

Why We Love Landscapes and (some) creatures

Sandwood Bay

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CAMPING GEAR

porch side was getting the rough end of the stick. The porch itself runs the length of the tent but is quite shallow so room for both of your sacks is at a premium. Ventilation is good through the wide roof vents and half mesh doors, unusually the inner is made if fabric rather than mesh so it’s quite warm inside. Given a 3-4 season backpacking rating by Wild Country, the flysheet has a Hydrostatic head of 3000mm while the groundsheet is 5000m. I see 23 it more aimed at the cycle touring market than as a mountain tent, there are only 2 guylines fitted so it’s not meant for exposed sites. Outer-first pitching allows you to get your gear out of the weather while you clip up the inner, the use of fastex buckles or clips at the corners of the inner would have made this easier. My major gripe was the number and type of pegs given 10 are needed but only 7 supplied and while the spec says they’re alloy v-channels mine were all skewers. Despite that the Aspect 2 is well made and decent value at this price, just remember to bring extra pegs.

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It’s Only Natural

The track peters out on the southern bank of a small river that feeds in to Altan Lough. Altan Farm is on the opposite bank with the imposing southern flanks of behind.   Aghla More rising steeply There are some good stepping stones in place,

That clunk you just heard was your jaw hitting off the coffee table when you saw the Asgards’ price. But hold on, before “Angry from Crossmolina” sends something suitably vitriolic to the editor enquiring as to my mental state, this is not a run-of-the –mill back packers portable shelter. The Asgard is a 2 man expedition tent suitable for the worst conditions a remote location can throw at you. When I say 2 man, in truth it’s spacious enough for 3, making the cost a bit more justifiable and allowing plenty of space for tons of gear, games of fullcontact snap and delaying the onset of cabin fever. With a supported porch and doors at each end, there are acres of elbow room and the steep sides mean that it’s not just in the centre of the tent either. All this has a downside of course – price obviously, but weight also increases to a sizeable 3.36kg. Pitching is reasonably easy (it would be simpler if the shorter middle pole was colour coded), just fit the poles into the continuous, closed-ended sleeves and then fit the Asgard’s secret weapon the Bow frame, a pole which runs around the upper part of the tent supporting the porches and making the tent much more rigid. The rest is easy enough to make 1 person pitching possible with a bit of practice, when erect you can sit a 45 pound rucksack on top according to one review I read and yes; I’ve tried it and its true! Once inside there’s ample storage and the groundsheet feels almost bullet-proof with a Hydrostatic head of 10000mm. This negates the need to carry a separate “footprint” or groundsheet protector again to help justify the cost and weight. One of the things that really grabbed me were the groundhog stakes supplied, ideal for anchoring the Asgard in any soil conditions. Did I like the Asgard? It’s fairly obvious that I’m more than impressed, I wouldn’t be recommending it for a quick 1 night camping trip but for serious stuff or as a fixed base option it’s up there with the best. Might have to make MSR an offer on this one methinks…..

View across Altan Lough, with Altan Farm on the far left

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“There is a small river crossing at Altan Farm that can be tricky after heavy rain, so gaiters and walking poles are recommended.”

MSR Asgard

packaged, but still provides enough headroom for its Gareth McCormack Errigal inthe County the shorter northern approach from 2 occupants to sit up inside. Again inner is Donegal. Their almost all mesh so it can be used as a proximity Procklis currently complicated by poor samples a freestandingtoinsect shelter shouldmountain such aproof justifiably popular access, the Altan route is now preferable. challenging outing conditions permit. Pitching means that they is arestraightforward, often ignored and Although there is a defined track all the stake out the inner,visited securebythe spider-like seldom walkers. However they way to Altan Farm, it can be very wet in across three poles in their grommets, clip the inner to are certainly worth the considerable places. There is also a small river the poles and then drape the fly over the often-overlooked Donegal required to of make round crossing at Altan Farm that can be tricky top. Simply effort peg out the rest the the outer and of all tops good from Altan a route after heavy rain, so gaiters and walking you’re done.three Sounds so farFarm. and inIt’s fairness summits.

WEST CORK

then swings north, crossing a stream and descending through a series of switchbacks towards Altan Farm and the eastern shore of Altan Lough. It is tempting to shortcut the hairpins, however the ground is so rough that you probably save energy by sticking to the track.

Gear

(12-14).

The Aghlas

Ulster

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Helen Fairbairn visited three countries and tackled numerous alpine passes to complete the most popular long-distance walk in Europe. Photos by Gareth McCormack

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A selection of 12 looped walks in West Cork Ranging from easy, level strolls to more challenging mountain trails. Go to www.discoverireland.ie/walking (www.discoverireland.com from outside Ireland) for over 100 walks, including downloadable maps, useful links and details of walking events in Ireland.

Sheeps Head Loops

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Barรกn Loop

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Seefin Loop

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Glanlough Loop

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Ardnakinna Loop

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Rerrin Loop

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Pulleen Loop

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Dursey Island Loop

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Garinish Loop

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Creha Quay Loop

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Dunboy Woods Loop 61 Bullig Bay Loop

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Sheeps Head Peninsula

Sheeps Head Loops Measuring roughly 21km in length and just 4km across its widest point, this undulating ridge jutting out from the Atlantic from west County Cork is a beautiful place to explore. With wild scenery, picturesque loughs and fantastic coastal views, the Sheep’s Head Peninsula is one of Ireland’s treasures. Despite its unrivalled charm, this is in fact a little visited part of the country, which has managed to sidestep the hustle and bustle of modern life. The entire peninsula circuit is an 88km walking trail that takes around four days to complete. There are shorter loops that focus on a particular section of the route, and the very tip of the headland is perhaps the best place to aim for. No roads stretch this far, so the only way to unearth its charms is to travel on foot. Ascent : SHORT LOOP: 50m LONG LOOP: 350m Distance : SHORT LOOP: 4km LONG LOOP: 16km Estimated Time : SHORT LOOP: 2hrs LONG LOOP: 5-6hrs Grade : Moderate-difficult Short Loop : Drive as far as you can on the peninsula until you reach the Turning Point Car Park – this is your start and finish point. A wellsignposted footpath then leads you past rocky outcrops and Lough Akeen to reach the lighthouse at the tip of the headland. The path continues along the northern side of the peninsula, crossing some rough ground underfoot. Care is needed here as sheer cliffs and steep coastal crags dominate this section of the headland. Soon after you have rounded the cliffs, the short loop diverts across the headland and returns to Turning Point Car Park. Long Loop : The longer 16km loop walk starts and finishes around 4km west of Kilcrohane Village. This access point allows for a longer stretch along the north coast, passing dazzling inlets, coves, blow holes and sea arches along the way. Next, you’ll gently climb to the top of 239m-high Ballyroon Mountain, passing a ruined 17th century signal tower as you go. The summit provides spectacular views over both sides of the peninsula before you gently come down, completing the loop along 3km of narrow country lanes to return to the starting point.

B-C. Now the loop starts the ascent of Ardanenig – easy along an old laneway at first and then a fairly steep climb on a mountain track for 400m to reach a point near Rosskerrig Mountain where the Seefin Loop turns right – but you turn left.

Start and Finish : SHORT LOOP: Turning Point car park near the end of Sheep’s Head LONG LOOP: lay-by 4km west of Kilcrohane village

C-D. Continue to follow the green arrows as the loop crosses Rosskerrig Mountain and descends to join the Sheeps Head Way on an old roadway where you turn left.

Terrain : footpaths, tracks and paved lanes Ascent : SHORT LOOP: 50m LONG LOOP: 350m Distance : SHORT LOOP: 4km LONG LOOP: 16km Estimated Time : SHORT LOOP: 2hrs LONG LOOP: 5-6hrs Grade : Moderate-difficult

D-A. Now you follow green arrows (for this loop) and yellow arrows (for the Sheeps Head Way) along a surfaced roadway for over 1km before the Sheeps Head Way turns left at a memorial to Tom Whitty. Continue straight here and shortly afterwards join the main road for the peninsula. Continue straight at the junction, pass ‘the pub with the tin roof’ on your right and reach the 3-way junction at A above. Turn right here – it’s only 100m back to the trailhead.

Baran, Seefin and Glanlough To Trailhead The village of Ahakista is located midway along the coast road between Durrus and Kilcrohane on the Sheeps Head peninsula. Starting from the town of Bantry (on the N71 in West Cork) follow the N71 in the direction of Cork. After a little more than 1km turn right onto the R591 (signposted Durrus). After 4km pass through the village of Durrus and continue along the coast road for a further 5km to reach Ahakista. The trailhead is located at Arundels Public House on the right entering the village.

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A-B. With your back to Arundel’s Pub, turn right and follow green (and blue and purple) arrows along the road for just 100m to the road junction where you turn right and, almost immediately, turn left onto a minor roadway. The blue and purple arrows are for the longer Seefin and Glanlough loops. Continue to follow this roadway to Gorteanish – taking note that you overlap with the long-distance Sheep’s Head Way (yellow arrows and walking man) on the way. At a junction of laneways in Gorteanish the Glanlough Loop continues straight – you turn left and cross a stone stile – following the green (and blue) arrows.

Ascent : 320m/300m Distance : 9km Grade : Moderate-Hard Minimum Gear : Hiking boots, raingear, fluid, snack and mobile phone Services : Ahakista, Kilcrohane (3km), Durrus (12km) Terrain : Minor roadways, laneways, and mountain paths Theme : Mountain Trailhead : Ahakista, Co Cork


A-B. With your back to Arundel’s Pub, turn right and follow the blue (and green and purple) arrows along the road for just 100m to the road junction where you turn right and, almost immediately, turn left onto a minor roadway. The green and purple arrows are for the (shorter) Seefin and (longer) Glanlough loops. Continue to follow this roadway to Gorteanish – taking note that you overlap with the long-distance Sheep’s Head Way (yellow arrows and walking man) on the way. At a junction of laneways in Gorteanish the Glanlough Loop continues straight – you turn left and cross a stone stile – following the blue (and green) arrows. B-C. Now the loop starts the ascent of Ardanenig – easy along an old laneway at first and then a fairly steep climb on a mountain track for 400m to reach a point near Rosskerrig Mountain where the Barán Loop turns left – but you turn right. C-D. Continue to follow the blue arrows as the loop travels north for 500m and then swings west (left) onto a ridge. Follow the ridge for over 1km to reach a trig stone atop Seefin Mountain (318m). D-E. Just before the trig stone the loop turns sharp left and descends sharply to the townland of Derrucluvane. Joining a farm roadway turn right, pass through a farmyard, and watch for a stile on your left which takes you into farmland. Descending still the loop follows what was on old ‘mass path’ to eventually reach an old roadway where you turn left and rejoin the Sheeps Head Way. E-F. Now you follow blue arrows (for this loop) and yellow arrows (for the Sheeps Head Way) along the old roadway for almost 2km. Here the Barán Loop (green arrows) rejoins from the left. Continue straight. F-A. Joining a surfaced roadway follow the blue, green and yellow arrows for over 1km before the Sheeps Head Way turns left at a memorial to Tom Whitty. Continue straight here and shortly afterwards join the main road for the peninsula. Continue straight at the junction, pass ‘the pub with the tin roof’ on your right and reach the 3-way junction at A above. Turn right here – it’s only 100m back to the trailhead. Ascent : 440m/345m Distance : 13km/4hrs – 4hr30mins Grade : Hard Minimum Gear : Hiking boots, raingear, fluid, snack and mobile phone Services : Ahakista, Kilcrohane (3km), Durrus (12km) Terrain : Minor roadways, laneways, and mountain paths Theme : Mountain

A-B. With your back to Arundel’s Pub, turn right and follow the purple (and green and blue) arrows along the road for just 100m to the road junction where you turn right and, almost immediately, turn left onto a minor roadway. The green and blue arrows are for the shorter Barán and Seefin loops. Continue to follow this roadway to Gorteanish – taking note that you overlap with the long-distance Sheep’s Head Way (yellow arrows and walking man) on the way. At a junction of laneways in Gorteanish the Barán Loop and Seefin Loop turn left and cross a stone stile – but you continue straight following the purple arrow. B-C. Follow the laneway for 500m to reach a surfaced road where you turn right. After another 500m watch out as the loop turns left on a right bend. From here the loop ascends onto a ridge at Doonour where it rejoins the Sheeps Head Way. Turn right. C-D. Now follow the purple arrows (for this loop) and yellow arrows (for the Sheeps Head Way) for more than 7km along the ridge to pass Glanlough Lake and join a surfaced roadway. After 500m you reach a T-junction where both routes turn right, and another 500m takes you past a farmhouse on your left after which the Sheeps Head Way turns left – but you continue straight, staying on the surfaced road. D-E. After only 300m you turn left at a road junction, walk for 500m and again join the Sheeps Head Way as you turn right onto a bog road. E-A. The loop now starts the descent towards the trailhead – a 6km journey which passes through the townlands of Kealties and Tullig. Ascent : 400m/270m Distance : 20km Grade : Hard Minimum Gear : Hiking boots, raingear, fluid, snack and mobile phone Services : Ahakista, Kilcrohane (3km), Durrus (12km) Terrain : Minor roadways, laneways, and mountain paths Theme : Mountain Trailhead : Ahakista, Co Cork


Beara Peninsula The Beara Peninsula is undoubtedly the most rugged of the five mighty headlands that thrust into the Atlantic on Ireland’s Southwest corner. Inland, the landscape is dominated by Slieve Miskish and Caha Mountains, but the picturesque fishing villages dotted along the shoreline are where it all happens. A magnet for walkers, the 196km Beara Way takes around eight days to complete, however, take time to discover the delights of an offshoot of the main route with a trip to the sublime Bere Island via ferry from Castletownbere. With two looped routes on offer from the east or west side of the island, the adventurous could combine the two in a figure of eight, taking around eight hours from start to finish.

Ardnakinna Lighthouse Loop Ascent : 248m Distance : 10km Estimated Time : 4-5hrs Grade : moderate-difficult West Island Loop : Catch the ferry from Castletownbere to the western part of the island. The 10km route from the pier takes around four to five hours to complete and leads you on a series of tracks, lanes and pathways past the main landmarks of the area. Take in the stunning coastal views as you ascend the 258m hill that forms the spine of the island. It’s a gradual climb, but you will be rewarded by 360º panoramic views over Bantry Bay and the Beara and Sheep’s Head Peninsulas. Check out the striking white tower of the Ardnakinna Lighthouse, which is characterised to mariners by its distinctive two white and red flashes every 10 seconds. Follow the route downhill again until you reach the starting point at the pier. Start and Finish : Western pier via Castletownbere ferry Terrain : lanes, tracks and footpaths

To Trailhead The town of Glengarriff is located on the N71 in West County Cork, midway between the towns of Bantry and Kenmare. From Glengarriff, take the R572 (signposted Castletownbere) – passing through Adrigole en-route. It is a journey of approximately 35km (1hr). Take a ferry from Castletownbere to Bere Island. A-B. Facing the mapboard at the trailhead, turn left and follow the purple (and yellow) arrows along the road out of the village. The yellow arrow is for the long-distance Beara Way - this loop overlaps with part of it. After 300m you reach a Y-junction - veer right here following and zigzag up the hill to reach level ground. After approx 1km pass the military buildings on your left, and pass a number of road junctions to reach the ruins of Lonehort Battery (behind wire fencing) on a right bend. Here you veer left and leave the Beara Way to incoporate a trek around the battery. B-C. Follow the purple arrows as the loop descends to the shorelaine and then ascends again to give you closeup views of the extensive moat that surrounds the battery, and expansive views of Lonehort Harbour. Rejoining the roadway, the loop turns left and follow the Beara Way along the tarred surface. After 1.5km the Beara Way turns left at a laneway but you continue straight. C-A. Almost immediately turn the right bend and follow the purple arrow as the loop veers right at a 3-way junction. Enjoy the last 500m back to the trailhead. Ascent : 50m/80m Distance : 7km Minimum Gear : Trekking shoes, raingear and fluid. Services : Rerrin Village, Castletownbere (ferryport) Terrain : Island roadways, laneways and tracks Trailhead : Rerrin Village, Bere Island, Co Cork

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The Beara Peninsula in Co. Cork is rich in sites of historical and archaeological interest, from wedge tombs to ogham stones (one of which is the largest in the world). Ardgroom is a beautiful, brightly painted and well maintained village overlooking the Kenmare River estuary. A large number of megalithic monuments are to be found in the vicinity the most spectacular of which is possibly the Canfie stone circle (dating from 1000BC) in which the stones taper toward points. These stone alignments are believed to be ancient calendars. This loop starts at the pier at Cuas Quay near Bird Point and treats the walker to a range of sites of interest (ruins of farmhouses, sheepfolds and walled holdings) en-route to Dogs Point. At Dogs Point, a small beach and sea cave provides the ideal location for a short break before making the return journey along the coastal section which offer spectacular views of the coastline. Towards the end of the loop the walker is treated to a close-up view of the renowned Coosmore sea cave system - only 250m from the trailhead. To Trailhead Start from the village of Ardgroom on the R571 between Lauragh and Eyeries. In the village take the minor road signposted Cuas Pier and Pallas Harbour. Follow this road for approximately 5km to reach Cuas Pier on your right. [The trailhead is signposted from Ardgroom. A-B. Starting from the trailhead at Cuas Quay follow the blue arrow onto the tarred road and turn left. After 200m you reach a grassy track onto open ground on your left. Turn left here. B-C. Follow the grassy track across open ground and join a line of old stone walls. Keeping close to the walls, watch out for a variety of walled holdings, sheep pens and ruins of homesteads as you make your way to Dogs Point. C-D. From Dogs Point sweep left to join the return section along the coastline (reaching 50m above sea level) and enjoy the breathtaking views over Kenmare Bay. In the distance the coastline of County Kerry is visible. Continue to follow the purple arrows to reach Coosmore Caves - well worth a visit. D-A. From the caves enjoy the 250m back to the trailhead. Ascent : 100m Distance : 5km Estimated Time : 1.5hrs - 2hrs Grade : Easy Minimum Gear : Walking boots, raingear and fluid Services : Ardgroom (5km), Castletownbere (14km) Start and Finish : Trailhead at Cuas Quay Terrain : Firm coastal tracks and paths Trailhead : Ardgroom, Co Cork Map Ref: OS 84 v686 572

To Trailhead Start from Castletownbere (or Castletown Berehaven) on the R572 on the southern side of the Beara Peninsula. Follow the R572 for 15km to reach a junction with the R575 near Bealbarnish Gap – turn left here following the signs for Dursey Island. Another 7km will take you to the Cable Car at Ballaghboy. Dursey Island is located at the tip of the Beara Peninsula in Co. Cork. Access to the island is by the only cablecar in Ireland, which takes six people or one large animal at a time! The island has very few inhabitants and no shops, pubs or restaurants - thus offering a unique experience of undisturbed tranquility. Dursey is famous for its magnificent selection of bird species and is a birdwatchers’ heaven. The island has a stark and appealing beauty, with rugged indented coastline, lofty cliffs, open bog and a patchwork of fields divided by dry stone walls and ditches. The landscape is almost treeless since few parts of the island are not exposed to strong winds and salt spray. The landscape is dotted with antiquities ranging from standing stones and early monastery to an impressive signal station from the Napoleonic era. [The cablecar operates only certain periods of the day - please check timetable and allow at least 5hrs for your trip.] A-B. Starting from the cable car, follow the purple arrow along the roadway which travels the southern side of the island. You are also on the long-distance Beara Way marked with yellow arrows and the familiar trekking man logo. After 1km you reach Ballynacallagh the first of three villages on the island. Continue along the roadway. B-C. Follow the roadway for a further 1km to reach the village of Kilmichael where it is said that monks from Skellig Rock founded the ancient church - now a ruin. Stay on the roadway. C-D. Continue along the roadway for a further 3kms - and enjoy the spectacular views of the Beara Peninsula on your left. To your right runs a range of steep hills along which you will return - the Signal Station is at the highest of 252m. Within 100m of the end of the roadway, you turn right at a stone wall onto the hillside section. Trailhead : Cablecar, Dursey, Co. Cork Services : Castletownbere (22km), Allihies (12km) Distance: 14km / 3.5hrs-4hrs Difficulty: Moderate Terrain: Roadways, paths and tracks. To Suit Above average levels of fitness Minimum Gear: Walking boots, raingear, snack and fluid


To Trailhead The town of Glengarriff is located on the N71 in West County Cork, midway between the towns of Bantry and Kenmare. From Glengarriff, take the R572 to Castletownbere - a journey of approximately 35km (1hr). Continue straight through the town along the R572 – following the signposts for Dursey Island Cablecar. The trailhead is located at the boarding point for the cablecar. A-B. Starting from the car park at the cablecar, cross the stile and follow the purple arrows as the loop sweeps westward around the western end of the Beara Peninsula and ascends quickly to reach it’s highest point of 150m. Note that you are also following the yellow arrows of the long distance O Sullivan Beara Way. Enjoy the fine views along the top before starting the next section which takes you sharply downhill. B-C. The loop now descends across open ground toward Garinish Point and gives you close up views of Garanish Island and Long Island before exiting a small gate and reaching the quay at Garinish. Turn right here. C-D. Follow the roadway for 500m to reach a narrow old laneway on your right. Turn right and follow the purple arrow (and the yellow arrows of the O’Sullivan Beara Way) up the laneway. The laneway climbs to reach a roadway where it turns left and, almost immediately, joins a tarred road. Note that the long-distance Way turns left here - you turn right and enjoy the last 1km back to the trailhead. Ascent : 150m/250m Distance : 4km Grade : Moderate Minimum Gear : Trekking shoes, raingear, fluid and mobile phone Services : Castletownbere (10km) Terrain : Open hillside, minor roadways and laneways Theme : Coastal Trailhead : Dursey Island Cablecar, Castletownbere, Co Cork

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Eyeries is a pleasant coastal village on the rugged but very scenic Beara Peninsula in County Cork on the south-west coast of Ireland. The picturesque village boasts numerous medals in the National Tidy Town competitions down through the years. It nestles at the base of Maulin, which, at 623m, is the highest peak in the Slieve Miskish mountain range that forms part of the backbone of the peninsula. The village overlooks Coulagh Bay and the mouth of the Kenmare River and was the location for the shooting of the film The Purple Taxi (1977) starring Fred Astaire, Peter Ustinov, and Charlotte Rampling. More recently, it was also the setting for the 1998 TV series Falling for a Dancer, a dramatisation of life and love in 1930s Ireland based on the novel by Deirdre Purcell. Castletownbere, Ireland’s largest whitefishing port is just 8km away and you can watch the trawlers unload their catch, before sampling the delights in one of the many fine restaurants throughout the peninsula. There are many historical and archaeological sites to visit in the area including a number of standing stones. To Trailhead Start from Castletownbere (or Castletown Berehaven) on the R572 on the southern side of the Beara Peninsula. Opposite the car ferry in the town, follow the R571 for 7km to reach Eyeries. A-B. Starting from the trailhead at Sullivans shop in the heart of the village follow the blue arrow onto the access road towards the beach. You are also on the long-distance Beara Way marked with yellow arrows and the familiar trekking man logo. After approximately 1km the loop (and the way) leaves the roadway at a metal gate and accesses Eyeries Point. B-C. Follow the sandy roadway to reach the edge of the water and turn right to follow the rugged, rocky shoreline - with high quality scenic views of Coulagh Bay and, in the distance, the coast of Kerry. After 1km you will briefly rejoin a tarred roadway before accessing the shoreline again. C-D. Now the loop traverses a large number of small farm holdings common to this area before reaching Creha Quay where the longer Coastguard Station Loop (red arrows) and Beara Way (yellow arrows) continue straight onto the coastline again. You turn right here following the blue arrow onto the tarred roadway. D-E. Continue to follow the tarred roadway for 200m to where the Coastguard Station Loop (red arrows) rejoins it at a laneway on your left. Keep straight ahead here.


E-A. The loop ascends for 500m to enter the cheerfully painted village at its northern end. Turn right and enjoy the remaining 200m through the village and back to the trailhead. Ascent : 50m Distance : 6km Estimated Time : 1.5hrs - 2hrs Grade : Easy Minimum Gear : Walking boots, raingear and fluid Services : Eyeries Village, Castletownbere (8km) Terrain : Laneways ans coastal tracks Theme : Coastal Trailhead : Eyeries, Beara Peninnsula, Co. CorkMap Ref: OS 84 v647 506

To Trailhead The town of Glengarriff is located on the N71 in West County Cork, midway between the towns of Bantry and Kenmare. From Glengarriff, take the R572 to Castletownbere - a journey of approximately 35km (1hr). Continue straight through the town and after approximately 2km turn left onto a narrow roadway that passes to the right of the front gates of Dunboy Castle. Follow this roadway for 1km and turn left into Dunboy Woods – the trailhead is located at a car parking area after 800m. A-B. Starting from the mapboard in the car park follow the green (and purple) arrows along the forestry road back towards the exit. The purple arrows are for the longer Bullig Bay Loop. After 200m you reach a Y-junction where the Bullig Bay Loop veers right - but you veer left onto a forestry track. B-C. Over the next 400m the loop descends gently through woodland to reach a 3-way junction where you rejoin the purple loop on its return and turn left. C-A. Continue to follow the green and purple arrows along a woodland track along the edge of Bullig Bay - and enjoy the 500m back to the trailhead. Ascent : 20m/30m Distance : 30mins - 1hr Grade : Easy Minimum Gear : Trekking shoes, raingear, fluid and mobile phone Services : Castletownbere (2km) Terrain : Forestry tracks Theme : Nature / Coastal Trailhead : Dunboy Woods, Castletownbere, Co Cork

To Trailhead The town of Glengarriff is located on the N71 in West County Cork, midway between the towns of Bantry and Kenmare. From Glengarriff, take the R572 to Castletownbere - a journey of approximately 35km (1hr). Continue straight through the town and after approximately 2km turn left onto a narrow roadway that passes to the right of the front gates of Dunboy Castle. Follow this roadway for 1km and turn left into Dunboy Woods – the trailhead is located at a car parking area after 800m. A-B. Starting from the mapboard in the car park follow the purple (and green) arrow along the forestry road back towards the exit. The green arrows are for the shorter Dunboy Woods Loop. After 200m you reach a Y-junction where the Dunboy Woods Loop veers left - but you veer right staying on the forestry road. Continue to follow the purple arrows to reach the exit from the woods where you turn left. B-C. Now the loop follows a minor roadway for almost 1km to reach a cluster of farmhouses. Enter via the stile/gateway and join an old green laneway which starts to descend toward Pipers Point. At the end of the descent you cross a stile and enter woodland. C-A. Continue to follow purple arrows along a woodland track along the edge of Bullig Bay. Enjoy the views of the bay and Bear Island on your right. After 1km you reach a 3-way junction where you rejoin the Dunboy Woods Loop and turn right. Enjoy the last 500m back to the trailhead. Ascent : 70m/80m Distance : 4km Minimum Gear : Trekking shoes, raingear, fluid and mobile phone. Services : Castletownbere (2km) Terrain : Minor road, laneways, foresty tracks Theme : Nature / Coastal Trailhead : Dunboy Woods, Castletownbere, Co Cork


Crossword by Zodrick

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ACROSS 1 4 10 11 12 13 15 19 20 21 24 26 27 29 30 31

Strand on northern Achill Island (6) There’s ne’er a hag up on this 792m Kerry mountain! (8) ‘Little bald mountain’, Slieve ___ is 708m in the Mournes (7) Co Cork town or mountain over 500m in Co Wicklow? (7) Assumption or Irish footballer? (5) Covering for the ear in cold weather (7) Loop-walk near Letterfrack where the mild lion had a fit! (7,4) File format for computer document exchange (3) Lough ___ one of the lakes on Donegal’s Glen river (3) Only amateur grub on this Co Kerry 851m mountain! (11) Thor Heyerdahl sailed the Pacific on this (3,4) Map designed to assist navigation (5) Moved or prised open (7) Victory .. successful ending (7) Batts Wall overlooks this near Shanlieve (5,3) The ___ Way is from Graiguenamanagh to St Mullin’s (6)

DOWN

Name ................................................................................................. Address ............................................................................................. ..................................................................................Size................... Tel: ....................................... Email ................................................ Post your entry to: Target Dry Crossword Competition, Walking World Ireland, ‘Edelweiss’, Cushina, Portarlington, Co Laois.

A photocopy is acceptable. No faxed or emailed entries. One entry per family. Closing date: 20 August. No cash substitute for prizes.

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What could a midge do to this superman? (7) Park on 16,000 acres in the Derryveagh Mountains (9) Thievin’ little bird? (5) ___ Riada - an Slí Mór - Great Highway full of skree? (5) Unbroken chronological sequence (3) Lough ___, near Carrick-on-Shannon (5) In Co Kerry, overlooking the Cappagh river at 422m (7) United by having the same opinion (6) Address of a web page (3) Independent statutory body in charge of our roads (3) Belonging to a female (3) An ___, Irish town centre or is it just a short Laurence? (3) Pairs roam along the Dingle Way near Masatiompan (6,3) It’s a howler between Galtees and Slievenamuck! (7) Irish or Scottish mountain peak (3) Unforeseen developments (6) Disciple considered to be author of the first Gospel (7) He had a bed and cell under the Spink (5) Kanchenjunga is its highest peak (5) The Yangtze is this country’s longest river (5) Manta or Man? (3)


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first step – we guarantee it. Because when you trek in Ireland you journey through some of the most beautiful scenery on our planet. From the wilds of Connemara to the dizzying peaks of Co. Kerry. From the haven of tranquility that is Co. Wicklow to the unique unspoiled botanical wonder that is The Burren in Co. Clare. Choose from week-long guided walking safaris or simply walk your own route at your own pace.

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28/06/2010 14:06


WWI Issue 97