Five Arderins, of which three are Vandeleur-Lynams,and one, Greenane, is a member of our Highest One Hundred. These are impressive credentials, but can they possibly justify such a daft route?
The answer will very much depend on whether you are a summiteer, or a normal, healthy, well-adjusted member of our society. The latter will opt for the natural circuit of Lough Muskry leaving out Sturrakeen and Laghtshanaquilla. But I had five Galty Arderins left on my list, and I couldn't afford two trips, and this was the best I could come up with in the absence of a second car. Imagine the luxury of a two car outing. I would have started at the far eastern side of the Galtys and crossed via the Slievenards, Sturrakeen and so on. Pretty much the same ascent and distance, but you would have a feeling that that you were making progress at all times, and a route you could justify to the world.
And Yes, fingalscave, I did consider the possibility of car and bike ensemble. The idea would have been to park the car beneath Knockastakeen, near the Waterworks, (where I parked for this actual route) and then cycle downhill to Rossadrehid, and pedal towards Clohernagh to take the well established track running south from there to Sturrakeen. But I funked it, because I couldn't see any clear connecting path from the road to the track at Clohernagh. Of course, there MUST be a connection, and sure enough when I look closely at OSI online now, there it is! A bike ride from the Waterworks to Clohernagh would certainly shorten the drudgery of the long initial traverse to Sturrakeen (circa 5 miles!), so perhaps some of my fellow solo summiteers may take that option and let us know how you get on?
Back to this Track. I chose to go clockwise because it seemed to make sense to begin the day with a long gradual ascent, leaving the drama of the real peaks until the end. I like to begin my walks at a gentle pace and end them with a "bang". If you choose to reverse this Track, you'll have a mighty big pull up Knockastakeen to begin the day, which is fine, especially if you are twenty, but even De Yute will be browned off hauling their taut glutei maximi from Sturrakeen back to the Waterworks.
As events transpired on the day, I found myself in mist from about 650 metres so I had to imagine the views from the ridge based on my previous outings further west. Of course, that's the chance you take when you venture out in December but I'm not complaining. One of the positive unintended consequences of struggling through the mist was the special moment coming off Greenane West when the vista of Knockastakeen materialised. I had been expecting a little bump based on my map heights but instead this perfectly shaped "sugarloaf" (at least as you get close from the south), with its natty stoney crown, loomed ominously and seemed enormous. This effect must be some kind of optical illusion because the map was perfectly correct: the total ascent from the coll is circa 75 metres. Knockastakeen proved to be a wonderful finale, firm underfoot, and giving views in all directions, so that as you step off the stage, you feel that you have been at the heart of a great spectacle moments earlier. No wonder the noise of the rushing river sounded like thunderous applause.