A reasonable weather forecast coincided with a couple of days off work meant I was able to pack up my rucksack with all I needed for two days on the mountains and I opted to head for one of my favourite places, Mt Brandon. Traveling on a Friday meant I was able to avail of the once weekly bus service to the wonderful little village of Cloghane so I caught the 6.48 train to Tralee and easily hooked up with the bus and alighted in a slightly overcast but dry Cloghane at 10am.
|Approaching Brandon Pier|
|Parias Mor peers through the cloud on the ridge above|
|Grand day for it 😃|
For the first time in a while I felt really enthused about a trip and I was really looking forward to this outing. It also helps when you have an easy start as the walk takes you along quiet country lanes whose hedgerows are a riot of colour and fragrance with the sea and mountains on either side. Normally I'm not a fan of walking on tarmac but here is an exception. While here I daydream of retiring to a nice little cottage and whiling away my days walking and fishing and basking in glorious sunny days (well I did say it was a dream) ☺. Anyway after stopping for a coffee at Brandon Pier I walked up to the spectacular viewpoint of Brandon Head and here I left the road behind and entered open mountain ground. Alas, here I left the views behind as well because some very low misty cloud had drifted in from the ocean and I found myself walking over the broad boggy hills in dense fog. I wasn't too bothered as sometimes in the mist things feel very atmospheric and today with little or no breeze I was really enjoying myself. Eventually I arrived at An t'Sais which is such a spectacular place but today I was left to imagine the void below. As I reached the place where you descend towards the deserted village under Masatiompan the cloud lifted and I was once more treated to views of mountain and sea. I also came upon a large group of wild goats where interestingly about eight billies rested separate from perhaps fifteen nannies and kids. After descending the rough boggy ground to the village I paused for a drink and to fill up my water bottles and I set off up the long slog to the summit of Masatiompan. The broad wet boggy slopes were bathed in sunshine and I was soon sweating heavily as I trudged upwards, I was going to need them bottles 😆. By the time I reached the summit I was once again in cloud and that's the way things stayed until I reached my campsite that evening 😕.
|Who you looking at|
|Masatiompan rises into the cloud|
|Benoskee across the bay|
|An t'Sais finally emerges|
Up on the crest of the ridge there was a breeze and in the mist it was cool enough to warrant an extra layer but it wasn't bad. A thing I always enjoy when walking in fog is how things suddenly just loom in front of you. The tor of Piaras Mor looked spectacular as it suddenly soared ahead but it wasn't as steep as it first appeared and I was soon on top and reminiscing on my two previous bivvys here. It was still too early to stop for the day so I continued on. I knew the next possible place to camp was by the small lake about 100mtrs below the ridge but again that was quite nearby so again I opted to continue. For the next several kilometers there are no readily available watersources so I continued over Mt Brandon and Brandon Peak and descended from Gearhane to the boggy saddle above the 600mtr contour. After looking at the map I decided that my best chance of finding a good spot to pitch my tent would be near Loch na m'Ban about 120mtrs lower down on the eastern side. A farm track zig zags down and just before the lake I emerged from the cloud and also found a nice spot to call home for the night. It was now 17.30 and I had been on the go for seven and a half hours. I'd covered about 24 kilometers with around 1400meters of ascent so I was well pleased to drop the bag. There was little or no breeze here and I wondered if midges would be a problem but thankfully they never materialized and I was able to cook and eat in blissful, peaceful contemplation. My tent was on flat spongy springy turf and this coupled with my sleeping mat meant I was super comfortable and slept like a baby. Heaven 😴.
|Finally emerging under the cloud|
|Home sweet home|
|Across to Slievanea and Pedlars Lake|
Saturday July 8th;
Exiting my tent at 07.15 I was delighted to discover that the cloud had lifted and the sun was shining on some low wisps of cloud in the valley below. It was food for the spirit as much as my porridge sustained the body. As usual it takes a while to get everything done and dusted so it was 08.20 by the time I was again on the move. A nice easy kilometer for starters as I traversed the slope to the pass under Ballysitteragh was followed by the 240mtr slog to the broad summit which got the blood pumping in the still, humid morning air. The cloud was bubbling up a bit and the views were somewhat obscured but I was in the sun as often as not and the views when they came were wonderful. The next few kilometers are easy going and I soon arrived at the Connor Pass which was busy with the usual tourists oohing and aahing at the views. I left them to it and crossed the road and slogged up to the wonderful viewpoint of Slievanea with its precipitous drops down to Pedlars Lake and across the valley towards Brandon it was a good place to have a wee rest. Some cloud was coming and going so the views were again somewhat restricted but it was glorious none the less.
|I had a big grin on my face when I emerged to this view|
|And it kept changing|
|A bit misty but the only view I got to one of my favourite places..Ballyferriter and The Three Sisters|
|Nearing the Conner pass|
|Atmospheric cliffs atop Sleivanea|
Next up was the long ridge that runs from east to west until it ends at Annascaul Lake. I was making good time and I revised my original target of catching the 15.45 bus to Tralee and I now thought I would be able to catch the 13.45 instead. I didn't have a lot of time to spare so I set off across the broad boggy saddle towards the next top An Cnapán Mór 649mtrs. As I crossed I was treated to stunning views of the wild rugged ground between this ridge and the hills on the north side that would be a wild and isolated place to explore. The cloud arrived on top when I did but it was transient and as I carried on towards Cnoc na Bánóige 641mtrs I was basking in sunshine once again. In fact the day was showing signs of improving and in the sun it was quite warm. The stiff 200mtr pull to this top passed quickly enough and realizing that time was tight I wasted no time in heading for what would be my last top of the day Cnoc Mulanane 593mtrs before I dropped to the valley and headed for Annascaul. When I reached the final top I scanned the farmland in the valley to try and spy a direct way to access the public road and sure enough I spotted a track running through some rough pasture which seemed to fit the bill nicely. I went quickly down the steep grassy slope and I was soon at the track and before long I was walking along a delightful lane that was alive with colour, insect and bird life. It was hot and sunny as well and it was a delightful end to the trip. I arrived in the pretty village with 20 minutes to spare and I was able to sit and enjoy a coffee while I waited for the bus. So todays jaunt was around 21kilometers and had around 850mtrs of ascent and it took me five and a quarter hours. A total of about 45 kilometers over 2200mtrs of climbing meant I was very very pleased with my couple of days. Good training for the Alps as well 😃
|Benoskee and my ridge on the right. A beautiful remote(ish) valley|
|Green gully :)|
|Ever changing views|
|Back along the broad ridge. Sun and sea views|
|The final stretch before dropping down to the right|