Furths of Ireland Trip
Friday 15th July - Tuesday 26th July 2016
According to the Scottish Mountaineering Club, were Ireland allowed to have Munros, it would have thirteen (called “Furths”): a worthy challenge for DHC (most of-whose members are already “Compleat”). Unfortunately, although Scotland was designed with Munro-bagging in-mind, Ireland wasn’t. Scotland has most of its high mountains in the middle and all the flat bits round the outside, near the coast, whereas Ireland is completely flat in the middle, with all the high bits at all four corners. Hence quite a lot of driving is required to “Compleat" the Furths of Ireland.
Ten DHC Members (Paddy, Linda, Jane, Susan, Ali, Moira, Tim, Graham, Chris and Iain) proved up to that challenge, achieving it clockwise from the ferry to Larne: Lugnaquilla, Galtymore, Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and finally Brandon. However, our quest for a good meal in a “traditional Irish pub” was less successful.
Saturday was spent on the ferry from Cairnryan and then driving to the remote An Oige Hostel at Glenmalure, where we fittingly spent our first night in a sea-container.
The hostel is basic, but the warden (Billy) very friendly, so Tim made a hearty Ratatoullie, which we ate outside at a picnic table and washed it down with quite a good red wine.
Various paths to Lugnaquilla start from the hostel and we opted for the direct route up the Fraughen Rock Glen (which wasn’t as daunting as its name would suggest), followed by some bouncy grass all the way to the (925m) summit (which borders on an army firing range).
Descent was northerly along a peaty ridge before dropping back into Glenmalure and a drive to Cashel (Tipperary was too far away).
Cashel Independent Hostel is basic but friendly; the town hosts several “traditional Irish pubs”, but sadly, none do food on a Sunday evening so ended up at a Thai restaurant. However, next morning, we found Galtymore and rendezvous-ed with Paddy and Linda (who had “camped” in their van nearby). A hot, sunny day began with some bush-whacking through a forest due to a slight navigational hiccough.....
.....before gaining open pasture and eventually a lovely ridge to Cush (639m) and Galtybeg (799m) for first lunch.
Quite a descent along a ridge, with stunning views of lovely corries, across farmland to the north and the Reeks to the west, before the final push to Galtymore (919m) and second lunch.
A lovely descent across heather, moor and farm tracks to the cars and then the short drive to Killarney.
The An Oige Killarney “International” Hostel is a large, impressive sandstone building that offers breakfast (but we didn’t see anyone partaking).
Killarney is Ireland’s most-popular town for tourists and we visited during peak season. By the time we arrived, it was too late to eat in a “traditional Irish pub”, so we settled for a restaurant at the end of the hostel’s driveway, that served guinness. We decided to tackle the Reeks in two bites: The Coomloughra Horseshoe and the Reeks Ridge.
The Coomloughra Horseshoe includes the three highest mountains in Ireland (Beenkeragh 1,010m, Carrauntoohil 1,039m and Caher 1,001m). The walk starts from a lovely new carpark north east of Loch Acoose. Unfortunately, that carpark is well-hidden and so new that it doesn’t appear on any of our maps, so we parked in a lay by and walked a kilometre down the road to it. The ascent via Lough Eighter follows an ancient wall and is unrelenting all the way to Beenkeragh.
The dip between Beenkeragh and Carrauntoohil comprises a 1km rock arete with some exposure and the summit was hot, sunny and mobbed. But we had the pleasant surprise of bumping into Paddy near the summit in action with the camera, who had ascended by the "tourist" route.
The Reeks Ridge contains the balance of Reeks considered worthy by the Scottish Mountaineering Club and we ascended from Cronin’s yard (a farm yard turned car-park and tea-room) via Hags Glen, between Loughs: Gouragh and Callee to the ridge at Cnoc na Toinne. The initial summits of Cnoc na Chuillin (958m) and Maolin Bui (973m) proved uneventful, compensated by the considerable excitement (for Jane) of the ridges between Cnoc na Peiste (988m)....
....the Big Gun (939m) and Cruach Mor (932m). The group split into two parties for the descent, with the drivers returning to Cronin’s yard and some wanderers taking the ridge to Kate Kearney’s cottage at the famous Dunloe Gap.
Thursday was supposed to be a rest-day, but Susan organized a great sea-kayaking trip around Dingle bay, including some interesting sea caves, a couple of harbour porpoises and the world-famous Fungie the dolphin (who would probably benefit from the application of the US Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972).
Dun Chaoin Hostel is at the west-end of the Dingle peninsula, is the most-westerly in Europe and the stunning, surrounding coastline featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in-which heroine Rey tracks down Luke Skywalker at his remote hideaway on Skellig Michael.
Brandon (952m) is a popular pilgrimage and the church has thoughtfully installed white posts and crosses to guide the faithful. The visibility was so bad that we actually used them to gain the summit and Compleat the Furths.
Since they are not proper Munros, it seemed appropriate to toast our Compleations with Cava to mark the fact that this was Iain's final Furth !
On the final descent of the final mountain of the holiday it was very unfortunate that Moira had a slip, resulting in a very painful broken wrist. But after being whisked to the Doctor in Dingle, followed by an hours drive to to A&E in Tralee then a 7 1/2 hr A&E wait she was still smiling!