I was drawn back by the lure of completing the 2002 - 12 Bens Challenge route. I got the details from John J. Cotter who completed it that day - one of just a handful. No GPS or ViewRanger back then and no option to pick a good day. I was spoiled really.
I did a recce of the start the evening before. It was going to be dark when I was starting so best find a parking space and look at that dyke, about 10m in where you leave the road, and can get wet to the waist very easily.
The sunrise was good but not spectacular. But, I knew from early on that it was a day for the photos and adding time for taking them.
I think it’s fair to say that one ‘picks’ their way along the quartzite terrain as opposed to walking it. You think you’ve a bit of momentum going and you stall to have a look at what might be the least troublesome way up or down these mountains.
Everything is going swimmingly as I arrive on Bencullagh; but between here and Benbrack the terrain is new to me. There may be an easier way to get between these two and I suppose in time I’ll figure it out. The above route down is steep and rough. A bit more gradual descending/contouring along the NE side of Maumonght might work.
There are lots of holes to step into as you approach the Polladirk and the the SW side of Benbrack looks intimidating. But, you’ll slowly pick your way up with a bit of zig-zagging. You can also look forward to a bit of a rest between Benbrack and Mám Eidhneach - a descent and relative ‘flat’ for 4.4km. There’s not much point in contouring high SW of Benfree and Benbaun. I was forced down 50m as the river channels were tricky to traverse.
I underestimated the climbing and distance from Bencollaghduff to Derryclare. Maybe it was just that I hadn’t done it in that direction before and I was full of beans, early, on those other walks. In any event, after a struggle to get purchase on the scree slopes of Bencorr and leaving Derryclare, the job was done. The legs were totally confused when they hit the boreen - ‘What’s with this flat, even ground?. Do you want to run?’. I jest.
It’s 7.2km from where the track ends, back to the start, so a handy bit of road walking to curse close and fast oncoming traffic. You’re safer on the mountain.