“Enjoy your day on the mountain tomorrow, a fabulous way to start ones 52nd year on the Earth.” That was the text message from my daughter on Friday night. The message from the MV founder, in the Annual, was to ‘Try Different’. Both of these messages were in the plan for Saturday.
I’d never been ‘across the (Maum/Leenane) road’, from the Maamturks. The plan was to do the JC Challenge route in reverse, from Leenane. It was cold but there wasn’t much wind on the ascent to the Devilsmother. Took the gloves and beanie hat off at around 500m. The buff was moved from neck to head. Essential kit, them buffs.
5.96km to the summit of Devilsmother and 652m gain. There was no fear the lungs would overheat on Saturday. Two deep inhalations of that cold air would quench any oxygen dearth. Tough climbs are rewarded with great views.
The ground was firm. Although, if you owned a horse you wouldn’t be running it on this kind of ‘firm’. Pleasant to walk on, as soft patches were crunchy under the foot and wet ground was frozen solid. The wind was blasting up through Glenacally so the rim of the buff was maneuvered down over the tops of the ears.
Onwards to Maumtrasna on the relative flat with epic views all round. You’re just looking at spurs for another day and what’s off in the yonder distance. You make a 200m navigational error and call yourself a clown. A good lesson for the day you’re back up here and you can’t see a thing. If you didn’t make navigational errors, you’d never learn anything though.
Follow the 5.5km spur and have a look to see if you can come out at the right spot on the road. Mask to the left of me Nafooey to the right. I’ve 40 photos taken at this stage. Will I ever again get a day like it up here? No hill walkers out but I’ll surely see a human as I walk through Finny. I do, and they’re beeping at each other about hogging the road.
Back to the mountain but best get some nutrition in first, as you’re down at 30m and it 7.5km to 550m summit of Ben Beag, never mind what you’ll be looking at when you see what lies ahead to Bunnacunneen.
All goes well. It’s short and sharp to the summit of Bunnacunneen. The descent down the North side takes a bit of time. It’s frozen solid. The sun hasn’t hit it at all.
By the time you’ve got to the road you’ve 32.4km done. Here, there’s a sign attached to a stake that says ‘It Never Gets Easier, You Just Go Faster’. Well, I don’t think that it’s aimed at hill walkers but if it’s still there for the Challenge in July it’ll be one of the most photographed things you’ll see from the day. Particularly, as it’s right before the last big climb of that day.
Almost done. A few streams to hop and wettish ground with bog oak before you get to 300m and then it’s freewheeling all the way to Leenane. One of the best days ever out on the mountain and I had the whole place to myself. Joyce Country - So Be It.
NB: There’s a sign at the ‘gate’ across for the car park that says ‘Authorised Access Only’ but I find it hard to believe that it’s aimed at hillwalkers. I’ve asked someone up that way to find out about it and when they revert I’ll post it here. I knew nothing about it before I went up.
This isn't the easiest start/finish you'll ever have. There are streams, rough/steep/wet ground and stone walls to meander through. It was just convenient for this walk.
Update: The sign is to do with the sewage treatment plant that's up that road. The plant is beyond the gate, to the right, so nothing to concern a hillwalker.