After descending the track below Kanturk (D (O13223 04310)
) through a shadowy, dank conifer forest it was a delight to find oneself at a copse of old oak trees. Beneath their leafy boughs the sunshine filtered through the leaves stirred constantly by the wind to trace lacy patterns on the ground. With the nearby Inchavore River tumbling melodically over granite boulders and swirling through deep pools of water, it would not be hard to imagine this magical place as the abode of water nymphs and fairies. It is a fine place to rough camp and we were impressed that those who had done so had left no rubbish behind.
Suitably rested we crossed the river, stepping across the tops of boulders to the rough boggy ground opposite. Great caution must be exercised here for hidden rivulets are barely discernable amid long grass and tussocks. Following a fence uphill, avoiding boggy ground where possible, we headed NE towards the rocky summit. The Inchavore River with its swirls and curves of ancient oxbow lakes, faint outlines of former cottages and the gravelly finger of spoil heap spilling downhill from an old mine working on Kanturk’s slope, provide interesting views.
The brooding hulk of Tonelagee slipped steadily into view as we ascended, the clouds surrounding it turning an ominous battleship grey. Then its summit disappeared from view, lost in cloud. The wind increased and large drops of rain began to fall. We trudged onwards, the wind lashing the rain horizontally into our rear. Near the top the bracken and heather became denser and some light scrambling over granite boulders brought us eventually to the summit cairn. Even in rain, the majesty of these mountains is undimmed, the angry cloud rumbling and boiling over their summits.
Upon descending the wind suddenly dropped and we found ourselves in a rain shadow. All was absolutely still and silent apart from the croaky cries of ravens and the yelp of deer that we disturbed as we entered their realm, the wild and lonely Cloghoge Valley. Mesmerised by the beauty of this place, we watched as several herd of deer bounded effortlessly towards the brook, appearing to dance over the heather, while the cloud on the slopes of Luggala, Carrigvore and Gravale hung like smoke, the pungent smell of bracken and dank earth heightening our senses.
We then followed an old peat road down to the point where a bridge crosses the Cloghoge Brook and took the paved road towards the Pier Gates which gives fine views of the cliffs of Luggala and passes properties once connected to the surrounding estates. Near the top of the road the sun slipped below the cloud to bathe the Cloghoge Valley and Knocknacloghoge in a golden glow, igniting the heather on a nearby knoll, this epic scene completed by the silhouette of a gnarled may tree. The heavens erupted into a riot of colour as we stood spellbound, grateful for the fickleness of the weather that had made us feel truly alive that afternoon in the wilds of Wicklow. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/386/comment/6042/