Summer walking with the Voortrekker can be a nightmare, a childhood spent chasing wildebeest across the veldt means that he can stride around our hills without breaking a sweat. To try and slow him down, I decided on a route that would negate his natural affinity for solid and arid ground. Yes, the Breifne mountains with their trackless boggy summits would be the choice for the day. The Met. Eireann lady had assured me of only light showers to 10.30am followed by sunshine. So, with rain jackets on, we left the car at the forestry entrance (Point D) and walked 100m up the road to the famine memorial chair (Point A), and thence followed the waymarkers through forest, on a good track. 10.30am arrived, the rain did not leave. Leaving the forest, we reached the new concrete “Tracey’s” bridge (Point B) and followed the waymarkers up towards the cliffs. A short but slippery clamber saw us reach the mass rock and the damp grotto (Point C). This would be a highlight of the day.
Pushing onwards, a short climb took us onto the broad grassy slopes of the southern ridge leading up to the summit of Slieve Anieirin. The summit, marked by a platform, seemed a couple of metres below a point to the South according to our 2 GPS units, but it was ticked anyway. The rain continued and we had visions of the Met. Eireann forecasters laughing that they’d fooled us once again.
Our route was to continue over trackless bog directly towards Knockacullion. This certainly slowed the Voortrekker, as we both ended up knee-deep in bog and with soaked boots. We cut our losses and worked our way east to the two bumps above the cliffs. Here I took out my Brady Ham sandwiches and a flask of tea. The Voortrekker ate his Springbok biltong and some fortifying Witblits. Our route would eventually take us on to Bencroy and as the sun finally came out, we were treated to fine views of Cuilcagh. We then retraced our steps to the small lochan at Bencroy’s Southern saddle. From here we cut South-East to descend to below the cliffs (tricky in mist I’d imagine), and followed a Southerly bearing across heather and bog attempting to link sheep trails, back to Tracey’s concrete bridge and thence the car. All in all less than 15km, yet energy sapping enough for the Voortrekker to say “That was a bit tougher than I expected”. On the journey back I phoned the Grumbler- “Ah yes, that’s a wet one alright” he said knowingly, laughing almost as loudly as the Met. Eireann forecasters. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/305/comment/23576/