IRELAND’S ICONIC MOUNTAINS: MUCKISH

Muckish as seen from the N56 between Dunfanaghy and Creeslough.

From now on I will put forward a new topic: taking you up Ireland’s iconic mountains. Those which can be seen from far away, those which steep slopes make your eyes open wide, which summit vista is as beautiful as a dream, yet which name sometimes sends shivers down your spine while thinking of their huge size and how hostile they can be under bad weather. The changeable, unpredictable weather conditions combined with the usually hard-going terrain indeed turn these hills into mountains. Despite their modest height and the rather reasonable amount of ascent implied, the Irish mountains are tough for the novice. But when it clears out, even just a bit, it is pure magic…

Continue reading “IRELAND’S ICONIC MOUNTAINS: MUCKISH”

Buachaille Etive Mor: until the end of the night !!

Saturday, 9. June 2017, Scotland at last !! Heading N on the A82 along Loch Lomond, the second largest lake in Great Britain after Loch Ness, I am becoming impatient. This portion of the road is winding and not too wide, but busy, not leaving many opportunities to enjoy the magnificent scenery. After the loch, it widens and heads straight N up the valley. Crianlarich, Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy. Between these touristic villages, a void. Or should I say, beautiful, green landscapes, overlooked by the steep slopes of a few invisible munros.Then the road follows the edge of Loch Tulla before veering up the large hairpin, taking the stranger into another dimension…
The A82 crossing Rannoch Moor at sunset. Left in the distance stands Buachaille Etive Mor.

Continue reading “Buachaille Etive Mor: until the end of the night !!”

A SCOTTISH DREAM (and a bit of my story…)

Some tough-going, high mountain ground and munros as far as the eye can see: the E ridge of Ben Starav (Scotland)

Fourteen years. Fourteen years I had not been back to Scotland. I had only been there once actually, in April 2003. An eight-day road-trip, with only two walks. Since almost a year, I keep dreaming about these wild, wide open spaces of moorlands and countless lakes and mountains, and especially these scary munros which rise so steeply above the Highlands. And now I can hear you ask: what is a munro ?

Continue reading “A SCOTTISH DREAM (and a bit of my story…)”

FIRST DAY IN THE MOURNE MOUNTAINS: FROM SLIEVE MUCK TO BUTTER MOUNTAIN

My second article will take you to the heart of the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland, about one hour driving distance S of Belfast. After so many trips on the Emerald Isle, it was about time for me to visit this popular area, one of the only main mountain ranges I had not yet set foot on. In my quest of climbing all of the Irish +500m summits, I had only visited two in Northern Ireland, Slieve Croob (539m) and Slieve Gullion (574m), respectively N and WSW of the Mournes. A few days’ trip last November would allow me to add a few others to my personal list…

A CHOICE OF ROUTES UNDER BEAUTIFUL NOVEMBER SKIES…

But why November ? Not the best period for hill-walking, usually wet, dull and cold and the days are short. But I have been in Ireland every year in November since 2012 and the weather has not always been that bad. The only thing is, you need an early start if you intend to complete long walks or you will have a night finish.

The Mournes are definitely the ideal place for a peak-bagger like me. The summits are relatively close to each other and most of them can be accessed with good trails -which is rather unusual in Ireland. If the weather allows, I could bag quite a few of the 35 +500m listed summits during these four days. And there is a great choice in linear routes or loops. Therefore, I will decide of my first route only on the previous night…

DSC_1018
Thick clouds rolling over the summit of Slieve Muck…

Continue reading “FIRST DAY IN THE MOURNE MOUNTAINS: FROM SLIEVE MUCK TO BUTTER MOUNTAIN”