Featured Track of the Month Rocks and Eagles
This month's selection has the track reviewer's usual Sunday team kicking back in the less frequented area of the Mournes on some varied terrain with unusual prospects of the rest of the range, well worth a visit for those not so familiar with it.
Peter Walker on Shanlieve & Eagle Mountain from Leitrim Lodge
Main walk Start: 07:41, End: 11:30, Duration: 3h49m, Length: 13.7km,Ascent: 704m, Descent: 704m Places: Start at J22419 25574, Shanlieve, Eagle Mountain, Rocky Mountain, end at Start (statistics such as Ascent or Length etc should be regarded as approximate. Duration depends on the speed of the person making the track)
The Western Mournes are generally quieter than their High(er) cousins to the east, and the ending of the more rigorous lockdown restrictions has made both quieter still, certainly in comparison to the last year or so. Thus it was that 'The Team' (as the Cra has chosen to re-christen us) decided on this as the venue for our regular Sunday shlep. Well, Gerard decided and the rest of us didn't object.
Leaving the Leitrim Lodge car park we strolled up the track to the Mourne Way, and followed it southwards, with woodlands above and below, and the odd mountain biker for variety. Reaching the Yellow Water river we worked our way upwards on the network of paths and tracks before emerging into the tussocky badlands to the east of Tievedockeragh and south of Pierce's Castle (where a large walking group was already in-situ relatively early in the morning).
In Castle Bog: 'That way!'
Now, some fun. The map suggests the obvious line up Shanlieve goes up Batts Wall from Shanlough; the on-the-ground reality is somewhat different, as wicklore's ominous comment on the Tievedockeragh page on this site bears out. So we kept well north of the fence crossing the gap where Shanlough should be, through more benign areas of Castle Bog, and rejoined the wall for the sharp pull (rough path) up Shanlieve. This took us into the clouds on a day where showers were forecast, but for now the rain held off.
Climbing Shanlieve with the evil clutches of the bog below
A short descent and a slightly longer (still short, mind) climb brought Eagle Mountain underfoot, a fine rufty tufty hill with an impressive line of cliffs on its east side. But with visibility limited we stayed on the non-summit side of the wall for lunch. A steep descent by the wall brought Windy Gap underfoot, and we eschewed the summits of Slievemoughanmore and Wee Slievemoughan to take a cross-country course down to Rocky Water. Another little pull up the vapours of a path took us to the ridgeline north of Pierce's Castle, and we yomped onwards over Tornamrock to the col under Rocky Mountain.
Descending to Windy Gap from Eagle Mountain
Eagle Mountain and Shanlieve from Rocky Water
Across the Mourne Way and up the popular diversion to Rocky Mountain. We were well out of the cloud by now, but a look down the valley southwest towards Rostrevor and Carlingford Lough suggested that the promised showers were mustering themselves over the border. Thus a hasty retreat was made down Rocky's western shoulder back to the track adjacent to the car park.
The summit of Rocky Mountain. There's weather out there.
NORTH: Tough as old walking boots.
An updated short summary on Slievelamagan in the Mournes, which is one of the roughest and most arduous climbs in the area, reports by Peter Walker.
group on Slievelamagan, (Sliabh Lámhagáin):
Slieve Lamagan is one of the roughest of the Mournes, and its south western side rearing above the col connecting with Slieve Binnian is the site of much grunting and cursing by hillwalkers engaged on its ascent. The peak takes the form of a south-north ridge with a lesser gap on the northern side, and with very steep (on the eastern side craggy) flanks.
Park at Carrick Little carpark at J345 2 ... ... Click here ...
NORTH: More praise on the double.
Two extensive comments on Lavagh More in the Bluestacks this month, both singing its praises and wondering why so few walkers venture to this spectacular area.
murphysw on Lavagh More, (An Leamhaigh Mhór):
I climbed this last Sunday on an absolutely cracking day with the sun splitting the rocks. I turned off the R253 at G968 964, followed this road nearly to its end, took a left, crossed the Reelan river and turned left again. At the end I asked the landowner, a neighbour of my uncle, if i could park in his yard and then I set off. There are minor access difficulties getting from Mr. McAloon's farm ... ... Click here ...
WEST: Shapely, remote mountain surrounded by fine valleys.
Birreencorragh in the Nephin Begs merits three new comments from different contributors, and all agree on its many attractions.
group on Birreencorragh, (Birín Corrach):
Birreencorragh is situated near Newport in the SE Nephins in an area of steep-sided valleys. It sits at the apex of the Glendorragha Valley and has a remote feel. It's a spectacular mountain when seen from the S and NW, while it slopes gently enough along a narrow ridge directly N and curls northeastwards towards Knockaffertagh to encircle the valley. There are extensive views over the rest of th ... ... Click here ...
Featured summit comment New addition SW of Leenaun eamonoc
The Mountain family, that is - where of course new additions are always most welcome - we can never have too many mountains even if some of them break our hearts (and other muscles) when we try to climb them! No such problems with this latest arrival though - it's a baby summit easy to dander up as outlined by eamonoc in his comment of May 17. He describes how to get to this welcome new top in the Maamturks family of County Galway, and what to do when you get there:
New addition, out west. If heading towards Leenaun on the N59, turn right onto L51021 signposted Glencroff. Start off where the western way intersects the road at L83410 60793. Follow the western way south for 1.5km, to a broken stile at a fence. Head left uphill over heather clad slopes and higher up over steep grassy slopes to the top. Great views from here in all directions. Time taken 1.30mins a round trip of 6km
Photo: eamonoc, View west from Leterrshanbally towards Benchoona
WEST: New addition, Lettershanbally track.
As mentioned in the Featured Summit above, out in the west, sheltering under the Maamturks, lies the newly appointed Local/Historical/Cultural summit of Leitir Seanbhaile. A quick look at the map suggests that this should be an excellent viewpoint towards the various stretches of fresh and salt water around the coast, and as such eamonoc has submitted a track describing a quick route to visit it; a relatively short diversion from the Western Way.
eamonoc on Route to top of latest addition in Galway west
| walk, Len: 6.0km, Climb: 321m, Area: Leitir Seanbhaile, Maamturks (Ireland) Leitir Seanbhaile ... Click here ...
SOUTH: Steeped in scenery
One of the Glenbeigh Horseshoe's finest, Meenteog is a steeply sided mountain with wonderful views in all directions as well as multiple access routes, wrties markmjcampion in an updated short summary.
group on Meenteog, (Muing):
Meenteog is a broad-topped hill lying above some great coums among the Glenbeigh hills and is often walked as part of various circuits around these hills. There's plenty of v. steep ground to the N so care needs to be taken in poor conditions. Widespread views abound from the vicinity of the summit and these incl. local dramatic cliffs and lakes as well as the Reeks, Dunkerron hills and over to th ... ... Click here ...
SOUTH: Iron Age. Cross.
Down in the depths of Cork Corrin Hill rears up above the motorway, and chelman7 has uploaded a track which, rather than just nipping straight up and down, circles the hill and diverts to the summit. It's a very interesting lesser eminence, with Stations of the Cross on the way up, and a large cross and Iron Age fort at the summit, ideal for a more family-orientated outing.
chelman7 on Near Corrin, Nagles Mountains (Ireland)
| walk, Len: 4.5km, Climb: 113m, Area: Corrin, Nagles Mountains (Ireland) Corrin ... Click here ...
SOUTH: From the horse's mouth
A long trek across through the Mangerton area towards Stoompa revealed great views of the Horse's Glen, Crohane, the Paps, the lakes of Killarney and much more, writes jackill.
jackill on Stoompa, (Stumpa):
We parked the car at GR V98412 85728 on a fine July evening and walked the first kilometre on the roadway before turning left onto the rough path that follows the side of the Finoulagh River for a time and eventually leads to the Devils Punch Bowl. We pitched the tent at the mouth of the Punch Bowl GR V97566 81734 and settled down for the night with the stars overhead and the light of Killarney fl ... ... Click here ...
SOUTH: Frozen in the memory
Icicles formed by water spray, shimmering rainbows, frozen peat hags and a deep blue Sgilloge Lough made for a very memorable walk around Coumfea in the Comeraghs for kernowclimber.
kernowclimber on Coumfea, (Com Fia):
From the Gap Car Park (S27684 12842) we followed the path signposted for the Nire Lakes crossing the Nire in clear spate after the recent snow, traces of which adhered to the cliffs surrounding the northern Sgilloge Lough making it appear like a terraced amphitheatre. The ground rose steeply and was absolutely sodden and wobbly to walk on for several hundred metres as we continued upwards to the m ... ... Click here ...
EAST: Black Butter
MV's doyen of design madfrankie has been wandering around in the forests in the western fringes of the Dublin hills, his (ultimately) out and back track including a diversion to the minor summit of Black Hill (there's a few of them about) before hitting a big fat access issue at the foot of Butter Mountain (there's a few of them too). It has to be acknowledged that access is more of an issue as we seek to leave lockdown than it was beforehand, and it behoves all of us to conduct ourselves tactfully on the hill; hopefully equilibrium will return in due course.
madfrankie on Hike on forest tracks in the West Dublin Hills with access issue.
Starting from forestry entrance in Ballinascorney, a straightforward walk on forest tracks, including a quick up and dow| walk, Len: 9.3km, Climb: 273m, Area: Dublin (Ireland) ... Click here ...
EAST: Redeeming features
A dull big lump of a mountain, Kippure is redeemed entirely by the spectacular views on its eastern side, writes Colin Murphy.
Colin Murphy on Kippure, (Cipiúr):
Been up here a few times before (half of Dublin has) so with lockdown limiting options, I decided to approach it via a little-used route. Kippure is largely a big round lump of a mountain, topped by an ugly transmitter, but it is redeemed entirely by the presence in its eastern slope of two spectacular corrie loughs: Upper and Lower Lough Bray. I started at the car park at O143 153 and proceeded w ... ... Click here ...
EAST: Massive Attack
jgfitz has submitted one of his customarily very well researched and described walks, shlepping down the links between the hills and the coast in Wicklow. His route takes you from the Glen o' the Downs, includes the Drummin and Kilcoole mass paths and finishes on the Rock of Kilcoole, with several interesting little diversions suggested too. Excellent.
jgfitz on Glen of the Downs route to Kilcoole.
From the trail head, follow Three Trout stream southwards through Glen o'the Downs wood. Exit the wood by descending| walk, Len: 13.8km, Climb: 251m, Area: Wicklow (Ireland) ... Click here ...
EAST: The path less-travelled by ...
A popular Dublin walk, but Seahan's finest assets are to be found only by diverging from the most trodden paths, says Colin Murphy.
Colin Murphy on Seahan, (Suíochán):
The top of Seahan isn't much to write home about and the views are limited because of the broadness of the summit, but if you take the time to diverge from the usual tracks and walk downhill in a NE direction for about 500m, there are great views of the Boharnabreena reservoir and also of Glenasmole to the SE. ... Click here ...
EAST: Table Manners
As he recovers from recent surgery march-fixer has been testing himself in the Wicklow Mountains, and part of that is illustrated by this exploration of the north side of the Glen of Imaal, trundling up through the forests to the higher, muckier stretches over Lobawn and Table Mountain up to Camenabologue, before a retreat down the Table Track. For those wanting more of a 'day' then this could be the opening of a testing outing onto Lug itself and down over Ballinedan Mountain.
march-fixer on Glen of Imal North Circuit
| walk, Len: 17.7km, Climb: 709m, Area: Sugarloaf, Wicklow (Ireland) Sugarloaf, Lobawn, Table Mountain West Top, Table Mountain, Camenabologue ... Click here ...
WALES: Everywhere's got one...
Oft nicknamed The Welsh Matterhorn (and it is indeed mighty pointy from the south-west), Cnicht is one of a plethora of summits in the Moelwyns visited by Fergalh.
Fergalh on Cnicht:
From Cerrig-y-Myllt we dropped down north east onto valley floor and than we headed up the north western slopes of Cnicht. We had already decided not to go up the nose. This was a gradual climb until the last 100 metres which was very steep. Eventually we arrived at the col between the twin peaks of Cnicht and headed South West to the summit marked with a large cairn. ... Click here ...
SCOTLAND: I am serious, and don't call me Shirley...
NE Scotland's Tyrebagger Hill is one of those handy 'near an airport' summits, courtesy of Fergalh.
Fergalh on Tyrebagger Hill:
From the summit I headed east on forest tracks rather than to the forest entrance and walk along the grass verge of the A96. These tracks eventually lead to a track that leads to a minor road and footpath at the roundabout near Aberdeen Airport. I still had plenty of time before my friends arrived and we soon headed off towards the bigger hills the following day. ... Click here ...
ENGLAND: Armboth Sides Now
Armboth Fell is one of the few Lakeland summits that the legendary Alfred Wainwright thought wasn't worth climbing...this didn't stop Fergalh.
Fergalh on Armboth Fell:
After finishing with Amboth Fell Birkett we headed slightly South West. This summit is slightly away from the others and is marked with a couple of stones. ... Click here ...
FRANCE: Earth, Wind and (a long time ago) Fire
Lone Peakbagger David-Guenot has submitted a couple of outings in France's Massif Central this month, both offering quite Irish sounding outings with tracks, lack of tracks and livestock considerations. The more aesthetic involves an ascent of the Puy de Chambourguet, a summit with (relatively) easy access and superb views of this deeply volcanic regions.
David-Guenot on Puy de Chambourguet
A quick visit to Puy de Chambourguet (1520m), which overlooks the ski resort of Super-Besse in the Sancy area, on the sa| walk, Len: 3.6km, Climb: 193m, Area: France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes () ... Click here ...
Sorry if we didn't mention what you posted .. there's a list of all contributors for recent
Consultation in the Republic on the development of a National Outdoor Recreation Strategy.
Last month readers may remember that we described a consultation by the NI Government regarding The Provision of Access for Outdoor Recreation ..
Another broader exercise has been created for the Republic, which has the looks of EU inspiration and is organised by Comhairle na Tuaithe (CnaT). The survey lasts until 23rd June 2021
On the ground restrictions can appear as arbitrary.
Hillwalkers have always faced restrictions and constraints in Ireland but often these have been slight, with access being informally allowed. However Ive hillwalked for over 50 years and have seen the continuing rise of conflicts or differences of direction concerning the sport. One answer is for the Government to start thinking in a holistic way abut outdoor recreation.
The scope of the strategy goes much wider than our immediate interest in hillwalking and covers recreation activities that take place on land and water and in the air, it also includes passive enjoyment of the natural environment.
Both participation and political interest in outdoor recreation are higher than ever before. This is an important opportunity to put forward your views as to how outdoor recreation in Ireland could work better, for people and for places.
Unlike some questionnaires this one is relatively short with just one page of 11 mostly multichoice questions. If you want to avoid continuing restriction and see a broader framework then it is welcome that the Department of Rural and Community Development be informed about what we want.
Mountaineering Ireland notified us about this survey. They tell us that CnaT is becoming active again - it's very much subject to the government of the day and whatever "Programme for Government" has been agreed between coalition partners. In recent years it resembled a stone.
Mountaineering Ireland is part of the Working Group leading this project. At the end of last year it identified its key issues for this new strategy (see www.mountaineering.ie/_files/20216311183_7608a591.pdf)
In reading the online survey it is noticeable that some of the topics reflect specific concerns mentioned in MIs document. While I wouldn't necessarily subscribe to every specific point made by MI, I would certainly acknowledge the general effort and specific emphasis on access.
Removing Rubbish from the Hills
Over the years hillwalking clubs that I have been in have organised cleanups.
I can remember in the early 90s that there was a well established civic tradition of clean up in the Wayfarers which had been ongoing for years or decades before I was involved. I vividly remember a group of Wayfarers systematically going round the top of Lugnaquilla with rubbish bags literally as other people were dropping it. Same with the Ramblers who then as now have organised whole walks with clean up as a theme, bringing home multiple large bags of rubbish, certainly as recently as just before the pandemic. I have been on these: a club officer turns up at the carpark with a bunch of black plastic bags and there is a competition to remove the most.
are currently promoting a campaign with the same objective. a challenge to all walkers and climbers to remove one item of rubbish every time were out. It is called "One From The Hills" and you can read more about it by clicking here: www.mountaineering.ie/aboutus/news/2021/?id=355
Volunteering for 2021: 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 18
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, 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
It started as a throwaway paragraph in (what is now a vintage) guidebook. It lit a fuse of interest in the dance music addled mind of a Kenmare lawyer (Mr Conor Murphy, for it is he). It spawned a whopping MV article by an English IT bloke (and that's me). And now, much to the delight of said lawyer and IT bloke who thought the day would never come, its now an actual challenge and not merely a theoretical one.
Fun and games on the first section
Because at 11am on Thursday 6th May, Kerry-based ultra runners Kevin Leahy and Joe OLeary lined up next to a rickety old truck near Waterville, and started running south. 22.5 hours later, they arrived at some more farm machinery above Loch Guitane almost at the Cork border. In the intervening time theyd become the first completes of the longest high-level route in Ireland. Some call it the Paddy Dillon Challenge after the original guidebook author. Others have christened it the Iveragh Spine, for fairly clear geographical reasons. But Kevin and Joe have decided to call it the Iveragh Traverse to avoid any confusion in the running community with the Spine race in Britain that covers the length of the Pennines in mid winter...and as theyve actually gone and done something that I only wrote about then I kinda have to give them naming rights.
The statistics (85km, 7500m ascent) belie the ferocity of whats involved underfoot, with the lads covering 44 summits from Glanbeg to Crohane (check out the map) savagely rough terrain and with a disgustingly complex section from Molls Gap over Mangerton largely being covered in darkness. There exists the possibility of adding an out-and-back to Broaghnabinnia to the easier middle section, but Kevin and Joe are leaving that to some future aspirants with the right inverse ratio of fitness and sanity. What has been done is fifty shades of astonishing anyway; Im not even aware of this even being done as a backpacking trip previously, and now the first crossing has immediately grabbed the Holy Grail of a sub-24hr time.
Sunrise over Mangerton
The lads had magnificent support on the day (check out Joes account for proper accreditation: https://fastestknowntime.com/fkt/joe-oleary-kevin-leahy-iveragh-traverse-ireland-2021-05-07 ), just illustrating the sort of great folk you meet in the outdoors. Hats off to them too.
Anyway, as a final comment, weve included pics of them at the beginning and the end of the run, and but for the captions Id argue its hard to tell which is which. Extraordinary.
Kevin and Joe at the start
Kevin and Joe at the end
This means I need to think of something harder for them to do....
An exclusive MV interview with the boys:
It's been three weeks...how long did the recovery take?
Kevin: The recovery didn't take too long. I was back doing easy runs after 5 days. Its 3 weeks later and I'll restart training next week.
Joe: Recovery was a bit unconventional. Had 90min snooze then spent couple of hours moving sheets of iron and preparing to dig up the floor of my shed the next day. 3 hours on a digger with a rock breaker the next morning and the rest of the day hopping between the digger and a dumper as well as manually throwing rocks into the dumper. This worked well in loosening out legs. I was clean f****d that night though. Sunday I was raking the limestone base. Didn't sleep well Saturday and Sunday nights and a bit sleepy at work all week. Legs perfect though with no pains and back running Tuesday. Pains all came back a week later🙄
When did you first hear about the route, and when did you first become seriously interested in doing it?
Kevin: I first heard about it in February this year. After a night of research I decided I wanted to do it. A few chats with Joe and a random meeting out on a Sunday run then we were on.
Joe: Heard about it when you and Conor posted about it and got interested from there.
For an audience of hillwalkers...what's the most unpleasant aspect of being on your feet for that long over that sort of distance and terrain?
Joe: Worst thing, the skin on the balls of my foot was sore on both feet due to the uphill hiking on my toes. No redness or blisters or anything, just soreness. This went mostly if I placed the whole foot on the ground on less steep terrain
Kevin: For me it was soreness in my knees. I guess everyone is different. You build up a tolerance for this kinda stuff and know how to get through it.
What advice would you give for anyone looking to follow you?
Kevin: Train hard on the hills, and enjoy the wilderness. 😉
Joe: Do as many reccies as possible if attempting the FKT (fastest known time) and do it in good visibility. Do Coomcallee horrible bit / Mullaghanattin descent in daylight and Knockanaguish to Mangerton in daylight..
Do you still like each other after 22.5 hrs?
Kevin: He got grumpy for a few hours but that's understandable and we'll always be friends. He's an honest, tough nut, which is rare.
Joe: Still talking to each other but badly in need of a night out in a pub together.
What's next for you?
Kevin: Kerry Way (race) in Sept. Then hope to do back to back 500km Arctic races in Canada and Sweden early next year.
Joe: Maybe Sheep's Head or Beara Way loops? Kerry Way and World AR (Adventure Racing) champs in Spain 4 weeks later.
Kevin's exploits before and during (and hopefully after!) lockdown are being recorded by Killarney-based film maker Adrian Corsini of Grandview Media: check out a trailer and details at www.1000kmofchaos.com/
For anyone interested in trail and mountain running in Cork and Kerry, please check out the Cork and Kerry Trail Runners Facebook group, where Conor and a merry band of brigands will make you very welcome: www.facebook.com/groups/1328420757249671
31. Derrygarriff West Top (Doire Gharbh (mullach thiar))
(Access issues prevent an ascent of Derrygarriff itself)
32. Peakeen Mountain Far NW Top (Péicín (mullach i gcéin thiar thuaidh))
33. Peakeen Mountain NW Top (Péicín (mullach thiar thuaidh))
34. Peakeen Mountain West Top (Péicín (mullach thiar))
35. Peakeen Mountain (Péicín)
36. Knockanaguish (Cnoc an Uaignis)
37. Knockbrack (Cnoc Breac)
38. Dromderalough (Drom idir Dhá Loch)
39. Dromderalough NE Top (Drom idir Dhá Loch (mullach thoir thuaidh))
40. Mangerton (An Mhangarta)
41. Mangerton North Top (An Mhangarta (mullach thuaidh))
42. Stoompa (Stumpa)
Stoompa East Top (Stumpa (mullach thoir))
Bennaunmore (An Beannán Mór)
43. Crohane SW Top (An Cruachán (Mullach Thiar Theas))
44. Crohane (An Cruachán)
-- Peter Walker
Céim na Conaire A Step along the Way
-- Paul Tempan
June – sea-birds
This month is a great time to head to the coast and the islands, covid regulations permitting, and let the sea breeze blow those lock-down cobwebs away. We have the summer solstice coming up on June 21, so you can make the most of the long days for your trip. At this time of year some of Ireland’s islands have the added attraction of one of nature’s greatest spectacles: colonies of nesting sea-birds.
One of my favourites is Rathlin Island on the North Antrim coast, which is home to larger numbers of fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and puffins from April/May to mid-July.
Photo: Guillemots and razorbills nest on the bare rock of these stacks near the West Light on Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim.
Photo: : Guillemots and razorbills nest on the bare rock of these stacks near the West Light on Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim.
Fulmars and kittiwakes are varieties of gull which nest on the cliffs near Bull Point, the western tip of Rathlin. The West Lighthouse, situated half-way down the cliff is the place to see them, and this is where the RSPB’s Rathlin Seabird Centre is located (www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/rathlin-island/).
Photo: Guillemots at Sceilg Mhichíl / Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry.
Guillemots and razorbills, members of the auk family, nest on the bare rock ledges of the stacks below the cliffs. Their eggs are pear-shaped, which is believed to make them right themselves when disturbed, preventing them rolling off the cliff. On the way over to Rathlin on the ferry from Ballycastle, you are likely to see guillemots and razorbills taking off from the water and skimming across the sea. Their extremely rapid and energetic flapping reminds me of one of those old toys powered by an elastic band, wound up to the max and then suddenly let go.
Puffins, which are also auks, are probably considered the star attraction by a lot of visitors on account of their colourful beaks and their slightly comical overall appearance. Rather than nesting on the cliffs, they make burrows in the earth and grass on the slopes below the cliffs.
Entertaining as the puffins are, the birds I most look forward to seeing are northern gannets, mainly because of the possibility of seeing them plummeting from the sky in search of fish. Although they don’t nest on Rathlin, you can often see them gliding past the cliffs of the West Light, sometimes in groups, on their way to or from potential fishing grounds. These are likely to be gannets from Ailsa Craig, off the coast of Ayrshire in Scotland, which is the nearest gannet colony to Rathlin.
Photo: Gannet colony at AnSceilg Bheag / Little Skellig, Co. Kerry.
There are just six Irish gannet colonies: Lambay, Ireland’s Eye (both in Co. Dublin), Great Saltee Island (Co. Wexford), Bull Rock (Co. Cork), An Sceilg Bheag / Little Skellig (Co. Kerry) and Clare island (Co. Mayo).
The largest of these is An Sceilg Bheag / Little Skellig (mountainviews.ie/summit/1366/), which you can see close-up from a boat if you take an excursion to the Skelligs from Portmagee or another nearby quay (visitors are not allowed to land for the protection of the birds). According to BirdWatch Ireland there were 26,000 nesting pairs counted in the ‘Seabird 2000’ survey: birdwatchireland.ie/birds/gannet/ This makes it one of the most important gannet colonies in the world. It is an amazing sight to see thousands of these birds perched on the island’s rocky ledges, and hundreds more circling in the sky, each one barely more than a dot, like snowflakes in one of those glass paper-weights that you shake up to make a snow-scene.
From the boat, you are also sure to see them diving for fish (mainly herring and mackerel). They are capable of plunging from heights up to 40m and catching fish as far as 11m below the surface. They retract their wings for smooth entry and the fact that they hit the water at great speed causes a shock-wave which stuns fish, immobilising them and rendering them unable to escape.
Gannets are the only deep-diving bird to be seen in Irish waters (you may see terns plunge from lesser heights, but only to catch insects or small fish very close to the surface). It is their aptitude for diving which gives them their name in Spanish: alcatraz, which is believed to be borrowed from an Arabic word meaning ‘the diver’. Their scientific name morus bassana is less complimentary. It means ‘idiot or fool of the Bass Rock’. Located in the Firth of Forth, east of Edinburgh, the Bass Rock is the world’s largest gannet colony (mountainviews.ie/summit/B5108/).
Gannets were considered foolish by hunters as they failed to protect their eggs or flee when approached, making them easy to catch. Names in French (fou de bassan), German (Basstölpel) and Polish (głuptak) also deride the bird as foolish, very unfairly in my opinion. The English word gannet and the Irish gainéad originate from a perceived resemblance to a goose and these words have the same first syllable as gander, ‘a male goose’.
Colonies are not the only place where you can observe gannets diving. Once you get familiar with the bird, you can spot them by their snow-white colouring (a noticeably brighter white than gulls) and their dark wing-tips at many different places along the Irish coast, often at some distance, because they need deep water in order to dive safely and they never overfly land except at the nesting site. A couple of places where they come close to the shore to dive for fish are the back beach at Ballintoy, Co. Antrim, and at An Bhinn Bháin / Beenbane at the mouth of Dingle Harbour, Co. Kerry (mountainviews.ie/summit/5119/). Gannets approach closer here because there is deep water immediately off-shore at both places, and this enabled me to video them circling and diving at quite close quarters.
I’ve also observed a gannet feeding frenzy in early September involving a few hundred birds off Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, which is far from the nearest colony at Clare Island, approximately 150 km away. The action was about 300m out to sea, rather too far for good results with my photo equipment, but it remains a treasured memory.
I’d like to thank Niall Hatch, Public Relations, Branches and Development Officer of BirdWatch Ireland, who very kindly supplied some information and key photographs for this article. He also asked me to convey an important conservation message to members of MountainViews: if you do visit one of the sea-bird colonies where access is permitted, please keep your distance from nesting birds, at least 6m away in the case of gannets, and preferably further. After all, that’s what zoom lenses are for. Nesting seabirds should not be disturbed (especially by over-eager photographers), which is a criminal offence under the Wildlife Acts 1976-2018.
BirdWatch Ireland has created a special page on their website about this problem: birdwatchireland.ie/too-close-for-comfort-bird-nests/. One of the very telling parts reads: “Just because a bird is sat on its nest as you approach doesn’t mean that it’s happy for you to do so. Really what they’re thinking is that they’ve put months of work into getting to this stage of nesting, and they don’t want to give that up unless they absolutely have to. Remember, as far as that bird knows, you’re a predator!”
Logainmneacha / Place-Names
Mew Island, Oileán na bhFaoileann, Co. Down (mountainviews.ie/island/2070/), one of the Copeland Islands, gets its name from gulls, mew being an archaic English word for this bird. This will come as no surprise to speakers of Polish, as mewa is the standard Polish word. Mew Island is next to Light House Island, also known as Bird Island, site of the Copeland Bird Observatory.
There are several places named Gull Island on the coast of Ireland. One of the most impressive is a rather magnificent 95m-high sea stack, situated north of Slievetooey in Co. Donegal (mountainviews.ie/island/1384/). Its ascent provides a challenge which has attracted climbers like Iain Miller: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-401eb0gAVM The Irish name of this stack is entirely different: Tor an Roisín means ‘pinnacle of the little peninsula’. It is part of the dramatic coastal scenery between Ardara and Glencolmcille which also includes the Sturrall, Toralayden and Tormore.
Puffin Island, Oileán na gCánóg, at the tip of the Iveragh Peninsula, Co. Kerry (mountainviews.ie/summit/1049/) is a bird reserve in the care of BirdWatch Ireland. It is an important nesting site not only for puffins but also for choughs. It was visited by a number of MV members in 2011 on a trip organised by wicklore.
Caunoge, Cánóg, Co. Kerry (mountainviews.ie/summit/448/) is an outlying peak of the Glenbeigh Horseshoe whose name seems to mean ‘puffin’, though the motivation for the choice of name is unclear to me. It’s about 10 km inland. If you know it or you’ve climbed it and have an idea, drop us a line.
The MountainViews ANNUAL, brought out in 2021.
We published the annual in Feb 2021, in the midst of the pandemic.
For 2020 the Annual has 64 pages in 18 Articles about walking on hills, mountains, coast and islands here and abroad. Some working around Covid19, some despite it, some for the future.
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.
simon3 on A Guide to Irelands Mountain Summits
MountainViews first book available online and in many bookshops.
As members will know, for over a decade, Mountainviews.ie has been providing unique information to hillwalkers on all aspects of exploring and enjoying Ireland's upland areas. It's been a collaborative effort by over 1000 of you, and currently contains over 6000 comments on 1057 mountains and hills on the island of Ireland ... ... Click here ...
Bulk sales to groups such as Scouts/ Guides: contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a discounted price.
Kerry Pronunciations now completed
We mentioned before that Paul Tempan, with the assistance of volunteer Hannah Ní Shearcaigh has created pronunciation clips for hundreds of names of Kerry summits in both Irish and English.
These are now all audible and here are some samples:
I understand two other volunteers are working on this project but it could use more.
If you are interested in helping, here is the volunteer brief: We are preparing pronunciation files for Irish and English names of the places that MountainViews features. If you are able to do this, preferably a native speaker and interested in helping please let us know. This project is coordinated by Paul Tempan. Contact: admin -at- mountainviews.ie Short Summaries about summits
MountainViews has an abundance of information for over 2000 summits, islands and coastal features. Great but a bit overwhelming if all you want is basic information. So for some years we have included "Short Summaries". Mark Campion (member markmjcampion) has now ensured that all of the Highest Hundred mountains have a Short Summary and is doing the necessary work to bring each to a similar standard -- important to make it easier to read. Volunteers with good background hillwalking knowledge wanted.
MountainViews big hosting changes .. to keep on going the same!
Behind the scenes MountainViews uses hosting services so that our website is visible to the world. This was going along fine on the current arrangement from 2013 when it turned out that the hosting service we were using required us to shift our website to a different configuration. (Due to obsolesence of the Linux in use).
And so we found ourselves in the fraught process of transferring the website with over 5Gb of data in tens of thousands of files and endless configuration details to a new place. It started on 24th May and has now largely been completed, though a few features are still not quite working.
All thanks to volunteer Misha (Vanush Paturyan) who largely undertook the work.
The new result? It will look much the same as before, but with a supported Linux it is less likely to experience security issues. You will find it is somewhat faster to browse pages.
Named Starting Places
Over the years feedback has told us that users of the website want information about where they can walk from. Not just official carparks but where, unofficially, people have been starting from -- often the side of a road.
Contributors to the website have suggested thousands of such places to start from in comments about summits or at the start & end of shared gps tracks.
However these generally appear in our pages as grid references rather than their better known local names.
Volunteer member JohnA has been working away to collate the information about contributor's suggested starting points. Some of the work consists of removing duplicates where people started from very similar places that can be named as one place. Other work consists of finding names and amount of parking for the proposed places.
MountainViews plans to include this data in new mapping and a new version. For now you can see an early experimental version at mountainviews.ie/multiusemap
So far JohnA has identified the starting places for all of the Highest Hundred mountains. This is valuable because it suggests new ways to visit places but also because it helps in spreading the load of footprints.
Volunteers wanted for this project.
Subareas for the whole of the island of Ireland
We mentioned that this project done with the assistance of volunteer Mel O Hara was proceeding. Finally it finished and we now have much better structured mountain areas divided into much more organised sub areas.
Above is a diagram of the subdivision of the Mournes into subareas. This is part of our bid to
make the description of Irish mountain areas more granular.
If you know the area and have suggestions, please do comment. For small changes, propose them
for the summit(s) in question using the Propose Places Database Change | Names website feature.
For large changes get in touch with admin -at- mountainviews.ie.
Nothing is irreversible.
The website is indebted to melohara, for the considerable work
required to research and organise the summits into logical subareas.
MountainViews now has 9548 comments about 1662 different
hills, mountains, island and coastal features out of the total in our current full list
(2204 on island of Ireland). We want to get a good gps track showing each of the
major ways to visit each
of these places and summits in Ireland. If you see an option to add a "Short Summary" then do
please consider creating one since another objective is to have a short summary for every summit
and island and coastal feature in Ireland. There's quite a few
opportunities for you to be the first to comment on a place, not so many on summits, however
lots of opportunities for islands and coastal features as we bring them out. We also have around
2700 shared GPS tracks, mostly in Ireland. Apart from a few popular areas, there is a need for
more routes in many different areas. Plain shared tracks without descriptions are welcome
however if you have time then do please add route descriptions with photos.
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
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 & cartoons: madfrankie
Development & support volunteers: Vanush "Misha" Paturyan, Mike Griffin
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