The idiom ‘Like a fish out of water’ describes someone who is out of their depth, or thrown in at the deep end. (Ironically both definitions refer to actually being in the water, not out of it!). I discovered a most apt example of a ‘fish out of water’ on Shehy More, both in its literal and figurative sense.
Mountainviews abounds with examples of oddities in the uplands – Peter Walker’s jet ski on Seefin (Boggeragh Mountains) in 2009, Simon3’s mysterious golden orb on Slievemore (Achill/Corraun) in 2008 (alas long gone but existing for eternity on the Slievemore page), or indeed the ‘No Parking’ sign carved into a summit rock on Tonduff in Wicklow - a place so bleak and boggy that no vehicle has ever driven up there!
These are the quirks that make a hike more interesting, memorable or thought-provoking. Peruse these pages long enough and you will find dozens, nay hundreds, of extraordinary observations from the Irish uplands - an eagle & a fox fighting, a concealed altar in a cliff face, previously unknown megalithic art on a boulder, the ethereal Brocken Spectre appearing in the mist…the list goes on. And so, with equal measures of gravitas and levity, I humbly present to you the latest contribution to this august body of the weird and wonderful!
On a damp evening last August I set out to hike around the two Shehy summits. At Gortlough Rd (W13425 60459)
there is room for two cars and I followed a good track that meandered uphill alongside a stream. The track continued for 2km to A (W15041 60157)
at around 470m height. A short but steep haul on grass and heather brought me up to the flat summit area at 546m, which was wet, misty & boggy. Little dark pools interspersed the heather and grass. Some old posts loomed in the mist, their silhouette resembling giant ribs. Other posts lay scattered haphazardly about the ground. The air was damp and chilly, the silence broken only by the rhythmic squelching of my boots. As I reached the summit I abruptly stopped. For there, implausibly & astonishingly, lay a large crab. Yet I was 546 metres above, and at least 20kms from, sea level.
The deceased decapod was about 15 inches from elbow to elbow. In awe I turned it over to confirm it was real. It was perfectly intact, and looked like it had just fallen asleep. I was utterly perplexed, most likely echoing the poor creature’s own feelings when it had found itself on top of a mountain. What had astonished the arthropod more I wondered – being so far from the sea, or so close to the clouds?
Within the week I had spoken to both the Sea Eagle Project in Glengarrif and the folk at Birdwatch Ireland. ‘Very interesting, probably dropped by a sea eagle’ mused Birdwatch Ireland. ‘No I’ve never seen or heard of a sea eagle taking a crab’ stated the Glengarrif Project firmly. And that’s all I know folks. The rest is speculation. All I know for sure is that Shehy More is 20 kms from the sea as the crow flies, or the eagle….. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/365/comment/23163/