In days of yore there was an article about the Bluestacks in the now deceased Walking World Ireland magazine. It featured a photo of a wild landscape and included adjectives such as ‘lonely’, ‘remote’ & ‘rough.’ Many MV posts on the various Bluestack summits echo this language. It was not until very recently that I finally set foot in this rugged upland area.
My first walk was a tiring there-and-back route from Glashcarns to Croaghgorm East Top. When I reached the distinctive quartz mound west of Ardnageer SW Top I got a great view up to the col between Croaghgorm and Lavagh More. And there I spied a track that wasn’t shown on my old OSI map. It meandered over the col from the SW and along the northern slopes of Croaghgorm. As one who gets excited at new discoveries, I saw the possibility of this being an easy access route to Croaghgorm for my next day’s hiking.
The next morning I was able to park at
after speaking to the lady at the farm. I went through two gates and along a muddy track that petered out into the fields after a few hundred meters. Further on at
it suddenly re-emerged as a much more substantial stone track. The track continued along the valley and led up (very steeply at times) to the aforementioned col and beyond. A junction at
led to the vicinity of the small lake near the summit area where the track ended. It took just over an hour to access these upper reaches. The track reappeared after the summit and meandered past the summit areas of both Croaghgorm South-West & Far South-West Tops before leading down to the farmhouse where I had parked earlier.
Finding this full-circuit ‘magic highway’ was a bittersweet feeling. It facilitated a much easier and quicker exploration of the Croaghgorms, which was a welcome respite after the exertions of the previous day. But it evoked memories of remote Slieve Carr in Mayo which was subjected to the scrutiny of those trying to find the quickest route using newly developed forest tracks. Encroaching tracks eroded the remoteness of Slieve Carr. While the Croaghgorm track gives similar easy access to a remote and rugged area, it also removes some of the thrill of remote hiking.
I subsequently discovered Peter Walker had already described this ‘manky great new bulldozed track’ in walk number 3106. So while I had stumbled upon the track through my own rambling, I was actually following in the footsteps of giants!
The upshot of all of this is that there is, for better or worse, an easy way to reach the col between the two Bluestack giants of Lavagh More and Croaghgorm. This will suit those who are tight for time or who are too tired or unable for a tougher route. It also illustrates the value in reading not just summit comments but also articles that accompany gps tracks that have been posted on MV. But do this research before you travel, and not in a car miles from the nearest cell tower! Linkback: https://mountainviews.ie/summit/150/comment/20646/