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David-Guenot: Track 3252 in area near Binn Chaonaigh, Maamturks (Ireland)
Central Maumturks Loop.
Length: 14.7km, Creator time taken: 5h32m, Ascent: 856m, Descent: 852m
Places:Start at L89211 49494, end at Start Logged as completed by 2
Maumturks part II. I had intended to start early and do the whole ridge from Binn Chaonaigh to Binn Bhan (Maumturkmore), but the weather forecast was not too good for that day, and, even with an early start, the next day would not have allowed it in terms of timing -also, I was not too enthusiastic at the thought of a ca. 10/12km walk back to the car along the Western Way, with more than half the distance on tarmac. The weather was a bit cloudy that morning, but it was supposed to turn rainy along the day, so I kind of hesitated before deciding to try and complete this loop, hoping the weather would stay clear for a while. It turned out the timing was bad. Hardly had I started walking -around noon- that the clouds came down over the summits.I started SW of Mam Ean, allowing just enough warming up along the Western Way before ascending Binn Chaonaigh from the chapel. The ascent from there is pretty steep, almost exposed at some point, and I was happy that it had not been raining, for the grassy slopes would have been slippery then. It becomes more gentle as you get higher, offering great views over Binn Mhor W Top's impressive W slopes, which I had climbed the previous day.
While approaching the summit, the ground becomes really rocky, rough and hard-going, giving a hint of what awaits next. From the top of Binn Chaonaigh, Binn Mhairg seems to be only a stone's throw away, and though the terrain adds a bit of difficulty, it is easily reached in less than 15 minutes.Binn Mhairg is a fantastic promontory, with fine views over the valley to the NE (as little as I could see) and over the dramatic cliffs to the E of Binn Idir an Da Log SE Top. I stopped there for a snack, enjoying the fading views as the clouds were coming down and it started to drizzle. The question now was: was it safe to continue ? I pondered about it for a little while, but the weather, although always unpredictable up there, did not seem to be turning really bad. Hardly a breath of wind and only clouds and a bit of drizzle, so decision was made to go on. After all, this could be the opportunity of gaining some useful experience...I decided to reach the col following Binn Mhairg's upper NW slopes and trying to lose height progressively. The ground is very steep along there, a mix of low heather and big stones, and I had to cross some scree at some point, some ankle-twisting terrain I would not necessarily recommend. It is probably more advisable to walk back to Binn Chaonaigh and reach the col from there, as there is an obvious path that follows the ridge.
I soon reached the track and the col, where I had a glimpse of Lissoughter and the Twelve Bens, and started the last real ascent of the day, in what was more and more resembling a lunar landscape. The first obvious path disappears and reappears amongst the rocky slope, and once the ground levels, before and after the few grassy patches. The substantial cairn just over the 600m contour marks the beginning of the upper ridge proper. The upper ridge is wide enough to provide some rather safe walking as there is no steep incline along the way, apart from the sheer drops on each side, which could not be seen from the path due to the poor conditions. A regular look at the map and the compass was enough to keep me going in the right direction, but I nevertheless checked my GPS as I reached another big cairn, to confirm I had reached Binn Idir an Da Log SE Top. The wind had started blowing harder and the drizzle had turned in true rain, but no stormy conditions whatsoever. Another 20/25 minutes and I was proudly standing on top of Binn Idir an Da Log. The descent often proves to be the toughest part of a long walk, and so it did, but rather in terms of orienteering. As you head downhill N of the summit, the ridge veers NW and widens substantially, and with the not-so-obvious path playing hide-and-seek in the clouds, I took a wrong direction at some point. I started going down a gully, but soon realised it was descending too steeply, too early. I had read about the steep part over Mam Ochoige, but that surely was not it. I retraced my steps up and found my way back onto the path (hence the reverse on the track), and was happy to find out the GPS was confirming I was taking the right direction. And this is actually why I bought it: I do not want to totally rely on it; it will never replace all the skills and experience I already have and still have to learn, nor will it replace a map and compass; but it is worth having a look sometimes, especially under poor conditions and when you are up there on your own like me (plus it can be very useful to make sure you are standing at the true summit). The last portion of descent above Mam Ochoige is very steep, especially the eroded section of path which can be quite scary for the unexperienced, and I must say I went down with extreme caution due to the combination of loose scree and slippery rock, and was happy to see the end of it and to get out of the clouds at last. It was then a rather gentle stroll around the lough which is nestled above Mam Ochoige, before the final, also steep descent down the wide gully to the SW, with the lone bulk of Lissoughter right in front of me. The last part of the descent is more gentle and easy-going despite the ground getting a bit boggy, and the road is easily reached and followed SE back to the car, with fine views of Lissoughter and the two Lehanagh Loughs, where I spotted a couple of swans. I did not enjoy this part too much because of the rain still falling, but I guess it could be kind of relaxing under better conditions, as was to be the end of the next day's walk...
Uploaded on: Sat, 11 Jun 2016 (13:25:40) Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/track/3252/ To download GPS tracks you must be enrolled and logged in. See "Login or enrol", top right - quick and easy.
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