The Hillwalkers' Winter Talks are over for 2017/ 2018. We are interested in suggestions for talks for the 2018/ 2019 winter. They should be of interest to hillwalkers. Previous topics have included trekking abroad, historical walking, photography, geology, archaeology, weather forecasting, islands, conservation, camino, mountain rescue, mapping and disabled walking.
The Winter Talks are being organised by the MountainViews committee.
MOUNTAIN MEITHEAL: Mountain Meitheal are keen to find more people to help.
Mountain Meitheal make practical repairs to some of the more popular areas we walk on, using a voluntary community based approach. (More information at their website.)
Picture of the month
Threatening skies over Slieve Bearnagh from the side of Slievelamagan heading towards Cove Mountain in the Mournes
Featured Track of the Month Promenade...
This month's selection is scarcely original in terms of the ground covered (statistically or geographically), but Aidy's there-and-back ascent of Brandon from the Conor Pass is garlanded with his usual excellent standard of photographs, and is also a valuable reminder to understand your own capabilities in the hills and not to feel obliged to meet any expectations beyond your own...go at a pace you can manage and there's absolutely no shame in having a doze if conditions allow it!
Aidy on Brandon From The Connor Pass
Main walk Start: 06:43, End: 19:10, Duration: 12h27m, Length: 21.3km,Ascent: 1463m, Descent: 1500m Places: Start at Q49041 05587, An Bhinn Dubh, Beennabrack, An Scraig, Gearhane, Brandon Peak, Brandon South Top, Brandon, end at Q48687 05431 387m SW from Start(statistics such as Ascent or Length etc should be regarded as approximate. Duration depends on the speed of the person making the track)
Hugely enjoyable walk, taking in seven summits, with some of the best views in Ireland. Most would probably do this in a shorter time, as I'm not a fast walker, and I stop for lots of photographs. I also did this on a very hot day, and didn't take nearly enough water for the conditions so I found it tough, especially towards the end where I had to take a lot of breaks. I even had a half hour nap at one point!
Starting out early from the Connor Pass
On An Bhinn Dubh, the first and smallest summit of the day
A look back towards Brandon Peak and Gearhane
Looking down through the passing clouds from the summit of Brandon
On the way back, looking out along the northern side of the Dingle Peninsula
Mountainviews Members Meetup Walk, Saturday 8th September.
The next walk for Mountainviews members and friends is scheduled for Saturday 8th September. This is an opportunity to meet up with fellow Mountainviewers and visit a part of the country you may not have been to before. Why not make a weekend of it?
A post walk drink and meal will also be arranged.
The walk will start at the Conor Pass which at a height of over 400 metres is a good place to begin.
Cycling up to the Conor Pass is optional!
A short ascent from the Pass will bring us to An Bhinn Dubh, the first of many summits closely followed by Beennabrack and Ballysitteragh before a descent of over 200m to a col and ascent up to Gearhane.
From here there is a spectacular ridge over Brandon Peak and Brandon South top to Mount Brandon itself at 952m the high point of the walk
There is an option at this point to descend by the ‘Saints road’ to An Baile Breac following a line of white posts and wooden crosses
Alternatively continue over Brandon North top and Far North top to Piras Mor and the col before Masatiompamn where an Ogham stone is located
A short diversion up Masatiompan is possible before descending west by the Dingle way to a car park near Brandon Creek.
The walk is 7-8 hours for the longer version, a distance of approx. 18km with ascent of around 1,000 metres
There will be more details nearer the walk but in the meantime if you are interested in joining us, SAVE THE DATE!, and, better still, register your interest with Liz, as below.
Decorated stone near Masatiompan.
The walk and the day are organised independently by members of mountainviews.ie and there is no charge for the walk. If you choose to donate to MountainViews you are always free to do so.
You arrange your own accommodation and any matters of personal insurance.
This is a wonderful opportunity to meet members of the Mountainviews community
The walk and further details are available from Liz at email@example.com
Volunteering for 2018: Strengthening the MountainViews Committee
Currently we have a number of officers on the committee such as chairperson, secretary etc. We
really could use some further committee members to achieve our strategic goals and spread the
For those taking an interest in the MV committee or indeed committees in general we
can also use some further "regular" committee members without a specific role. There
are many smaller quite finite projects that might suit regular members.
MountainViews is a great resource based on over 1300 people's contributions over 15 years. Great that is if you have heard of it. And that's where we could use some practical publicity help.
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
Quite apart from programmers, would you believe MV's progress can also use help from people who can really follow through on tasks like creating lists, checking stats, researching place names or geology. Whether on the committee or not we value such people's contributions.
Not strictly speaking part of the main committee but a position involved in finding and selecting interesting speakers and organising the three events we are running each year.
Luggala, an area and a mountain in the Wicklow Mountains is a magnificent place to walk for a variety of reasons. It is a great day out for younger people and those looking for an interesting but not too hard experience. It is also a conduit to various higher summits in the area such as Luggala and Knocknacloghoge. If you look at the diagram you can see members’ shared tracks illustrating the usage made. These are some of the best hillwalks in Wicklow.
Some of the extensive usage by walkers of the area.
Following the death of Garech Browne, the former guardian of Luggala in March 2018 access to this area is threatened by the sale of the land.
Mountaineering Ireland has been working to secure continuing access to this land. Take a look at their news page which contains a proposal that the “State should purchase Luggala”, more precisely those parts of greatest interest to hillwalkers (partly shown on our map of shared tracks).
“The National Parks & Wildlife Service has recommended the purchase of 4,000 acres of the estate (excluding Luggala Lodge and its surroundings). This is an approach which Mountaineering Ireland is supportive of as the cliffs, the Cloghoge river valley and the mountain lands of Luggala and Knocknacloghoge are our main interests, and these should have a much lower market value than the entire estate.”
Their statement also links to an article in the Irish Times and an editorial in the same newspaper. The latter, while decrying the offensive approach being taken at Luggala, adds a somewhat general perspective saying:
“Nevertheless, Mountaineering Ireland’s call should spark a serious national conversation about public access to areas of great beauty and high nature value. Certainly, rights to reasonable privacy, and respect for working farms, need to be balanced with the right of access.”
(Any right thinking person can agree with this and MI certainly welcomed the editorial).
What can you do about this?
We live in a democracy. Get onto your local TDs, write to the Minister.
There is also a
Petition about Luggala.
We recommend that you sign this.
We have a few caveats. If signing such a petition only makes you feel good and believe that nothing further needs doing then you are missing the nature of representative democracy and how to influence it (e.g. TDs and Minister as above). We also have strong reservations about the vehicle in use “Change.org” which operates in a country without strong privacy rights and is seeking to monetise political campaigning. Don’t pay this group anything when they ask. Just sign the petition.
More positively we can tell you that the Irish promoter of the petition is a concerned individual living in Wicklow and not a front for some political party or pressure group. We applaud this person’s effort. Well done. We aren’t clear about the source of his/her figure for the Euro 1.2m proposed price however this is a detail that can be resolved later.
While we would dispute some of his premises and debate some conclusions he reaches, the author of the above is analytical, challenging and helps explain social media’s growing effect on adventure activities. It’s very good on looking at the impact of social media on attitudes. And will help us all reflect on choices of platforms even as seemingly mundane as a petition website.
-- Author: Simon Stewart.
Climbing Mount Olympus
View from Refugio
Mount Olympus, Greece: A personal story
by member Fergal Hingerty
The sweat from the scorching sun dripped into my eyes as the crumbling rock came away in my hand, threatening to send me hurtling nonstop into the abyss. Fortunately I had implemented the ‘three points of contact’ scramble rule. I turned to the left and manoeuvred my body slightly to the left whilst being careful not to overextend myself as the 25kmh wind gently reminding me a firm grip was essential. I fixed my gaze on another point and this time my grasp held as a rock from another climber higher up tumbled down a little bit too close for comfort. Than I moved my left foot to another tiny ledge and then my right foot and continued my move upwards....This was the easy part the downwards climb of the Kakí Skála (Evil stairway) has an exposure of over 619 metres (2000 feet) in places. This ascent of Mytikas is an interesting scramble in places and a total focus on grip is needed as it won’t be the throne of Zeus (Mytikas) you will be visiting but landing in the river Styx and the waiting ferryman Charon will help you to Hades instead.
I had flown into Thessalonica and from there proceeded by car to my base at Platamonas, where my Polish climbing partner had arranged an apartment by the sea. The Friday morning after a swim in the Mediterranean we proceeded to Litokhoro where we bought last minutes supplies and proceeded to drive 17 km up the winding narrow road to the car park at Prióna. Pirióna is at a height of 1075 metres and this is where the long and winding trail to the Refugio where mixed with the black pine and pine trees, plentiful amounts of Belladonna can be seen. There are numerous types of butterflies on this trail especially when we went through the Enipeás canyon. The E4 (European Long distance Walking Route no. 4) trail is clear and is around 6 kilometres long to the Refugio Spilios Agapitos with an ascent of around 994 metres and well marked and even should you be unsure the horse manure from the bell wearing packhorses that supply the Refugio Spilios Agapitos is another indication of the way to go...
The author on the trail.
After three hours we arrived at the Refugio and settled down for the night. This is one of seven Refugios scattered around the Mount Olympus national Park which are open from March to October, the rest of the year they are closed due to the many avalanches in the area as the mountains are particularly steep and prone to these dangerous conditions. The people staying there were from Greece, Russia, China, Moldova, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA and many other places as well. Naturally before lights out at 10 Pm (like most Refuges) the talk was of Mytikas and the scramble from Skála. Most people were going to ascend Skála but only a few were contemplating the final scramble to Greece's highest point and the vast majority of them have helmets due to rocks dislodged from other climbers, which is a constant hazard on Mythikas.
We arose early at 05.45 and as others brewed tea etc., I was already in situ on the terrace to see the sun rise over the Mediterranean at 06.07 which was indeed like all sunrises in the mountains a magical sight. We assembled our gear and proceeded up the trail we were at 2068 metres but needed to reach Skála’s summit of 2865m firstly. This was a long hard slog of around 2.7 km yet, and as we climbed the terrain got more exposed and the wind of 25 Kmh was more noticeable. We proceeded above the tree line and at the first junction headed up the small screed lined path to the summit of Skála whilst admiring the other peaks and noticing the snow scattered around in pockets at this height even though it was 34 degrees Centigrade at the coast line which was visible to the east.
Finally after an ascent of 806 metres we reached the summit of Skála (2865 Metres) where some others had already gathered, most choose not to continue from this point and for a brief second the scale of the task became over whelming really and my Polish Climbing partner decided not to continue from Skala to Mytikos.
Than with bandana on and helmet adjusted it was a 50 metre drop into the Kazánia chasm through a narrow nick in the ridge (or abyss depending on your point of view) and a slow and torturous scramble arrowing right following the many Red and yellow markings which zigzagged across the chasm. Then suddenly at the first gap, barely ten metres from us two Chamois bounded out from the gap and amazingly bound down the chasm as if glued to it.....completely sure footed but nothing I was definitely going to try and copy.
The Gods awake on Mytikas.
Eventually the down climb finished and there is another narrow gap with a narrow traverse and the final 103 metre ascent awaits. Here I met three young Germans trying to reassure their friend who was crying in shock at the considerable exposure. The exposure is considerable and there were recently two fatalities at this spot so his fears were fully justified.
The up climb from here is complicated by loose rock fall from other climbers and some very slippery rocks so even more care is needed. At this height the thin air is also very noticeable and the breathing inevitably gets somewhat more laboured. Once you reach the top of this section a narrow neck and awkward corner with a Via Feratta type chain for grip, (without which the largest part of height exposure cannot be traversed safely) and just 100 metres away is Mytiakas itself. A down climb of 10 metres followed by 30 metres ascent brings you to Mytikas (2918 Metres) which is a narrow airy type summit with a visitor's book, trigonometric pillar and a Greek flag. Although I must admit I don't know how all the twelve Greek Gods managed to fit here at all the one time?
After the ubiquitous photos from a Serbian at the top and signing the substantial visitor’s book, the down climb awaited. Helmet now carefully on and I started back down and now the height exposure was more noticeable on the Kakí Skála (Evil stairway), should you choose to acknowledge it of course. However I was too busy focusing on my descent to notice the considerable drop! A two hour hike followed back to the Refugio where my Polish climbing partner was awaiting and from there a three hour hike back to the car. A much need swim followed to cool down in the heat and then the well earned celebration involved a long cool pint (well, maybe more than one..) of inevitably Mytikas beer.
The MountainViews ANNUAL, 2018.
We published our third annual in Feb 2018
58 pages in 17 Articles about walking on hills, mountains and islands here and abroad.
With the Challenge Walks Calendar pretty much winding down for the Season, there is certainly some lovely Walking still to be done. Mercifully the weather isn't as hot as it had been last month, so maybe the Factor 50 can be wound down to Factor 30 for the foreseeable few weeks! Of course, as Hillwalking comes with its own set of unique risks that should always be assessed and acted upon . . . don't blame me if you "burn and peel" having spent the Summer toning 'Adonis-coloured Pins'!
Last month saw Galway Walking Club report a successful Marathon Western Way once again and then down South Leinster direction we saw the Fei Sheehy Challenge continue to build on previous year's successes.
Galtymore, Fei Sheehy. Photo: Steven Forde
"We had a great three days with no accidents or incidents. We had typical hillwalking weather. It was Summer in the sun and Autumn when the mist was down“ Gerard Sheehy.
An incredible 31 Walkers managed to complete the "Treble" - which as we know is to Walk the Galtees on day one, the Comeraghs on day two . . . and then on the third and final day, whatever energies are left, have to be mustered up once again so as to complete the Knockmealdowns - before you're allowed to collapse in a heap!
A Big, Big, very well down to all participants . . . and once again a Top Job from Gerard Sheehy and his brilliant Team.
As you've heard before, the prospective Challenge Hillwalker has to begin somewhere . . . so why not join up with like-minded souls this Saturday the 8th, on the MountainViews Members Meet Up, which will take place over the infamous Brandon Ridge down the Kingdom neck of the woods. To complete this you need to be quick, as mentioned earlier in this month's Newsletter however there are options to cut the walk short.
Then later in the month, but a tad earlier than last year, we see the second annual Highwayman Challenge!
The Highwayman Challenge is a one day guided Hillwalking event and Half Marathon, following in the footsteps of the infamous Highwayman Willy "Brennan on the Moor" over the Knockmealdown Bandit Trails. This Walk is the perfect introduction to Challenge Walks in Ireland - The Challenge is a guided Walk of 30km with an ascent of 715m. On the day there are "B" and "C" Walk options as well . . . so Happy Days really! The Highwayman takes place on Saturday 22nd September.
So if you're new to our wonderful world of Challenge Hillwalking . . . here are two great opportunities to see what all the fuss is truly about! If you happen to be a seasoned veteran to our Traversing World . . . sure why not bring a friend . . . ! And if the friend is particularly good-looking and has a friend themselves . . . sure aren't the possibilities endless!
SUMMITEERS and PLACE-VISITORS CORNER
A place for those interested in Summiteering, Bagging, Highpointing, visiting islands and coastal places.
A Guide to Ireland's Mountain Summits - The Vandeleur-Lynams & The Arderins
MountainViews first book available online and in some bookshops. The first reprint with numerous minor amendments is available.
If you are contributing, please be careful to respect the interests of landowners.
Suggest access routes well away from houses, gardens or that could conceivably impact farming activities. When walking, keep away from gardens or farm buildings. Use stiles or gates wherever possible. Never do anything that could allow animals to roam where the farmer did not intend. Ask permission where appropriate.
Take care if parking and do not obstruct roads, lanes and field entrances to access by farm machinery, which can be large. Exercise your dog in parks or forests but avoid countryside or open hillside where they may worry sheep.
Report suspicious activity to the police forces, as below.
If your car is broken into in an upland area report it to the PSNI or Gardai as this will help them be aware of the issue and tackle it in future. Store the numbers. In Northern Ireland use the PSNI non-emergency number 0845 600 8000. In the Republic you can find the local Garda District HQs phone numbers at www.garda.ie/Stations/Default.aspx. Specifically for the hotspot of Wicklow: the Garda Divisional Headquarters in Bray is 01 6665300.
If you hear of a problem area or route, write it up in MountainViews
which does everyone a service.
Report rubbish tipping in the Republic - ring EPA hotline 1850 365 121
Report recreational quads in national park area (in which they are banned). They are also banned in the Mournes. For Wicklow please phone the Duty Ranger: 087-9803899 or the office during office hours Telephone: +353-404-45800. For the Mournes ring the PSNI (as above) or contact Mournes Heritage Trust. Put these numbers in your phone, take regs etc. Let MV know of contact numbers for other areas.
If you have visited some of the less well known places, we would appreciate a place rating and also "Improve Grid Ref" for summits and other places.
If you find errors in the basic information about places such as in their names, their heights, county name etc please use the "Propose Places Database Change" option.
If we can, let's make MV have more than one route up a summit or to a place so as to reduce the tendency for paths to appear. Your grid refs in comments for different starting points show up on MountainViews maps as well as shared GPS tracks.
Visit the MountainViews Facebook page.
Visit the Challenge Walks Ireland page (jointly managed by MountainViews)
Editor: Simon Stewart, Homepage:
Assistant editors: Colin Murphy, David Owens
Summit comment reviews: David Murphy
Challenge Info: Jim Holmes
Track reviews: Peter Walker
Book reviews: Aidan Dillon, Peter Walker, Mel O'Hara
Videography: Peter Walker
Graphics design advice: madfrankie
Development & support volunteers: Vanush "Misha" Paturyan, Jack Higgins, Piotr Stepien