Walk in Ireland, Wicklow Conavalla Table Mountain Camenabologue Camenabologue SE Top Benleagh, ascent 879m, length 18.2km
Peter Walker: Track 3368 in area near Conavalla, Dublin/Wicklow (Ireland)
A round of Glenmalure
Length: 18.2km, Creator time taken: 4h16m, Ascent: 879m, Descent: 734m
Places:Start at T06616 94172, Conavalla, Table Mountain, Camenabologue, Camenabologue SE Top, Benleagh, end at T05917 94101 702m W from Start Logged as completed by 1
There's nothing like a project to keep a bloke active, and with an urgent need to get Conavalla and Camenabologue done it was an early start from County Antrim to beat what was left of the M50 rush hour in the run up to Christmas. The car was suitably abandoned at Baravore and a sleepy Englishman sallied forth up the glen with early morning mist still stubbornly settled on the tops.I followed the Table Track to the point when a conspicuous (on the map and on the ground) track wanders northwards away from it before turning sharply right to take an ESE course across the slopes of Conavalla at around the 500m level. Harvey's Superwalker map suggested a number of (presumably) firebreaks heading straight uphill from it: these firebreaks still exist in the form of slightly blanched lines up the hillside, but the trees are now mostly gone. I climbed up the first of these lines, and it gave a very straightforward ascent, with very little hint of a path but with deeply benign conditions underfoot. It wasn't long before I was feathering the edge of the forest remnant and climbing the final easy-angled slope to the murky summit.Heading north towards the Three Lakes was similarly speedy, almost enough to make you wonder why this area of the Wicklow mountains has a reputation for being manky and tough. Such naivete was soon rewarded with a glorious slimy area of brain-fissure peat hags which lessened only slightly on the ascent to Table Mountain...the gradient is shallow but the bog isn't. Over and downwards to the top of the Table Track and a return to more pleasant going, notwithstanding the signs for the firing range to keep you honest. A track of sorts leads up Camenabologue, from where the going gets slightly tougher and a lot more indeterminate. I hung a very definite left over the col before the SE Top, as the col itself looked too much like fun, and then did much the same to get to the final summit of Benleagh, losing a bit of height in the process.From here it all went a bit Pete Tong. I'd taken a vague notion to heading sort-of SSW to reach the Lug path in the Fraughan Rock Glen's upper reaches (as I recalled reading that an ascent from the lower section of that path was tough, rutted going). In the end I discarded both these ideas and went for a full descent of the eastern spur. This was grand in the upper section, with a fantastic aerial view of Glenmalure and Fraughan Rock Glen from the Benleagh cliffs. But then I came to what looked like a short section of forest on the map... This turned out to be 'great fun in retrospect', consisting as it did of a monstrous jungle that only a sociopathic orienteer could love. The thick vegatation couldn't be bothered with dinner and movie and made a damn fine effort at ripping large amounts of my clothing off (gloves, hat and amazingly a fully strapped on rucksack all being arboreally removed at various points), and there was lots of slithering down over green slimy granite. At one point I climbed down a rock step by bridging between it and an adjacent tree, but most memorable was my arrival on the edge of a 50ft crag...it was tough summoning the enthusiasm for the considerable backtrack this seemed likely to warrant, but with the alternatives being, y'know, 'serious injury' or 'death', I found it from somewhere. I finally emerged on a forest road with a final slide down a tunnel of pine needles, water and slutch, wearing so much of the mountain as to make Leonardo di Caprio in 'The Revenant' look like Patrick Bateman in 'American Psycho', and enjoyed the walk back to the car whilst contemplating how 35 years in the mountains has still taught me so little about route selection. I believe the expression is 'character building'.
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