A walk lifted lovingly from the pages of 'Tipperary and Waterford A Walking Guide' by John G. O'Dwyer.
A long drive into the Nire Valley brought the spacious carpark at 8.00 on a stretched July evening. The blue sky allowed a dropping sun to create a beautiful panorama of light and shade along the huge coums eating into the western flanks of the Comeragh plateau.
There is a big information board packed full of knowledge and showing the looped walks which would be fill enough. The signposted walks are followed along a farm track from the carpark, dropping downhill to a beautifully located farmhouse. The farm is bypassed by a single track, with a rise before dropping down to the river. This is crossed by an impressive wooden bridge, though the river was not on top form after the dry weather.
Here it was time to part company with the waymarked walk and head into an expanse of golden moorland striking against the deep blue of the sky towards the prominent spur to the summit of Coumfea West Top. Ground was pretty dry but it had its moments and there were a few rivers and streams to cross. The sun was getting ever lower, bathing the walls of the coums in light that had me thinking of pale ale (heat might have been at work here too).
A rough track was picked up bringing me ever further into the grand amphitheater until I reached the shores of Coumalocha. A setting sun over the Galtees to the west was the curtaincall to set up a bivvy as comfortably as possible.....unfortunately the fear of the mighty midge had me paranoid and it was a pretty restless night. Though it did have the saving grace of being able to look up at a star filled night sky with each wakening of discomfort.
Early morning brought clear blue skies again and an urge to be off and climbing higher. Skirting the lough and heading directly for the steep spur to the summit of Coumfea West Top. This brought views over Lough Coumfea nestling perfectly in its baby coum and a view over where i had spent the night in the big daddy coum and its loughs. Wider views brought the Knockanaffrin Ridge and the Galtees and Knockmealdowns to the west. The summit is marked by a lump of white quartz.
From here the coum stretched out in a wide arc, inviting me to follow its edge - which i did with great pleasure. Great views down into the coum and its loughs of deepest blue, nestled amongst piles of moraine, being scoured by gusts of wind. Clouds had started to bubble up and they cast fantastic shadows as they swept across the steep sides of the coum.
The walking here was super easy along the edge of the coum and as headed for Coumfea and Coumfea North Top. It was also super beautiful walking in an area that you just know is not all that visited - and i was certainly the only other person here today.
There is a drop down around the coum cradling Sgilloge Loughs, again a beauitful place. A rise up to the high point of the walk on the summit of Carrignagower, eaten away to the NE by the impressive coum holding Coum Larther Loughs, where a blustery wind swept up from below threatening to take my cap. A proper cairn here and followed a line of old fence posts to the steep steep drop to the Gap. Proper good views to Knockanaffrin here.
There was some welcome seating in the Gap and rejoined the waymarked way which seemed to take an age to return to the carpark.
A truly stunning walk in a truly stunning area!