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David-Guenot: Track 3241 in area near Búcán, Maamturks (Ireland)
An enjoyable ascent and ridge walk, but a terrible descent !!
Length: 16.4km, Creator time taken: 8h45m, Ascent: 824m, Descent: 822m
Places:Start at L82937 61137, Búcán, Leenaun Hill Far North-West Top, Meall Cheo, Leenaun Hill, end at Start Logged as completed by 1
I did this walk with a French friend who had just arrived in Ireland the previous night. After my three first hikes in the Maumturks, the intention was to bag Leenaun Hill and its three satellites as to complete the whole +500m list of the range, and I had kept what I thought would probably be the easiest part for him. First time in Ireland for him, and first time in the Irish hills. We had been hiking a few times in the Pyrenees together, where tracks are quite common, and I knew it would be something new for him to walk off-track and learn to read the terrain. The route seemed a bit long, but the total amount of climbing would not be too taxing and the grassy ground soft enough for the knees. I knew his condition was not excellent, as he had not been hiking for a while, but we had done some similar walks before and we had the whole day anyway. This was for me the opportunity of seeing, through his experience of the day -and of the next days- the big difference between hiking in the Pyrenees and in Ireland: the ground/terrain. The weather was cloudy, but we could still enjoy a bit of the views all along. The ascent up Bucan from that side (W) is made on gentle, grassy slopes, with great views over Killary Harbour and Mweelrea.
My friend progressively learnt to cope with the terrain and did quite well. We celebrated his first Irish summit as we reached Bucan. Time for peat hags, now !! These are easily contoured to the left (N) and the walk along the ridge to Leenaun Hill Far NW Top is rather pleasant. A last short, steep pull-up and we reached our second top. Nice views from there. More peat hags to contour to reach Leenaun NW Top, but with the dry conditions underfoot, it took us less than 20 minutes to get there, where we could enjoy fine views over the rest of the Maumturks. We then headed to Leenaun Hill, avoiding the peat hags by sticking to the left of the ridge, trying to keep away of the steeper ground to the N. By the time we reached the top, my friend had had enough of climbing; it would be quite a long haul back to the car, but it seemed the hardest part was done... We followed the other side of the ridge to descend SW along the main shoulder which lies between Leenaun Hill and its NW Top. We contoured a boggy area which lies around the 470m contour to the right, but my mistake at that point was that instead of veering back along the shoulder, I took a more westerly direction, which took us down some steep grassy slopes. Not a real problem for me, but my friend, who I knew was a bit afraid of heights, got stuck at some point, and I had to do my best to reassure him and find some less challenging route for him amongst the steep grassy slopes and the numerous crags. I had intended to follow the shoulder down to the wee hill of Lettershanbally, but we ended up following its lower NE slopes to contour it and reach the Western Way, with Leenaun Hill NW Top proudly standing on the other side of the valley. We met a track at one point, but as it was leading down to a farmyard, I thought it would be wiser to stay in the open hill, as the Western Way was less than a km away. We passed by a standing stone and the remains of a stone fort which lie NW of Lettershanbally, but then the terrain changed dramatically. Big tufts of dry grass and some knee- to waist-high heather, wet ground underneath, hidden rocks, the perfect combination to kill a knee or an ankle !! We then reached the forestry, where a machete would have been more than useful !! It took us not less than 40-45 minutes to do less than 1km, and it was a relief to reach the Western Way at last !! Or should I say, what used to be the Western Way. The track was in a terrible condition, mostly because of some savage tree-felling that had stripped away a large area of woodland. We soon crossed a river and a new forest stone track, and realised the Western Way had actually been diverted along that track, so the portion of the Western Way that we had been on (as indicated on the Harvey Map) does not exist anymore. We then followed the Western Way NNE back to the car. One of the worst descents I have had so far - and with good conditions- so definitely not the best route down !!
Uploaded on: Thu, 19 May 2016 (09:47:30) Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/track/3241/ To download GPS tracks you must be enrolled and logged in. See "Login or enrol", top right - quick and easy.
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