As you drive from Maum to Leenaun (on the R336), there's a road that brings you into the Maumturks from the northeast. In February 2011, I drove into Gleann Glaise to explore this remote corner of Joyce Country. The road winds it's way into the valley where you're quickly surrounded by mountains and a wonderful feeling of remoteness. I parked on a gravel lay-by about half way up the valley
and headed for Maumahoge
. Stopping for lunch on the summit of Knocknahillion, the panorama stretched from Mweelrea to the north, rising above Killary Harbour, to the maze of watery ground extending to Galway Bay to the south. I continued over Letterbreckaun, my high point for the day, and by the time I reached the holy well at Tobar Feichin
the sun was setting behind the Bens and it was time to head back down to Gleann Glaise. I got back to the van as the first star twinkled and my head-torch battery dwindled. Just as well I didn't really need to use it... or so I thought.
As I attempted to reverse out onto the road, rather than move backward, I seemed to be moving downward. I got out to inspect the situation and, with my torch now completely dead, I assessed the damage by touch. As the wheels turned the stones had parted, exposing the bog beneath. The rear wheels were now well below ground, rendering movement in any direction extremely unlikely. I was in a remote valley, out of mobile phone coverage, stuck in a bog, alone, in the dark... great!
That first star was now joined by a host of heavenly beauties. As I marvelled at the unfolding spectacle I tripped over a concrete block that was lying by the side of the road. This got me thinking... Raising one wheel at a time and using various found objects I managed to regain buoyancy and traction. A series of three point turn manoeuvres followed, repeating the concrete block and jack assembly with each change of direction, but by the time the novelty of all this was wearing off I realised I'd boxed myself into a corner and I wasn't going to be able to get out - not in the dark anyway.
What to do... I didn't fancy the long walk out to god knows where so I decided to sleep in the van and see what the morning would bring. Morning brought confirmation that I wasn't going to get out of this unaided, so after a fig-roll breakfast, I started my long trek out of the valley, leaving the van stranded in what now resembled the site of an archaeological dig.
Miraculously, within minutes of leaving my encampment, an old Transit van puffed its way up the road towards me. Clearly visible through the front window were three Connemara men - forestry men! I told them my story and with some strategic redistribution of gravel and six large hands placed against the back of the van, I drove gingerly but triumphantly back onto the road. We shook hands, discussed the recent election results, and went our separate ways. Linkback: https://mountainviews.ie/summit/260/comment/14701/