Friday, November 1, 2013

Leenane Weekend 2013

A group of 20+ walkers travelled to Leenane in Connemara over the October Weekend to walk in The Bens and to climb Mweelrea (highest mountain in Connaught). Whilst the weather was not cooperative over the weekend this did not deter people with walks completed each day culminating with an ascent of Mweelrea on bank holiday monday in what could be described as testing conditions.

To see a full slideshow Click Here

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mountain Meitheal South East Work Day

Bishopstown hillwalking club volunteers
Saunders Lodge Track 2013

After advertising on the BHC newsletter for volunteers to help with the newly established Mountain Meitheal South East I received emails from members who were more then willing to help 'put something back'

We all met up in Model Farm road and then a 2nd meeting at the Firgrove in Mitchelstown saw us all car pool to Clydagh bridge where we met up with Mountain meitheal chairman Jimmy Barry and our leader for the day Frank Mc Mahon.  We left most cars at the car parks and loaded up tools etc and set off for the Saunders Track which runs from the main track up to Curragh Lake.

It wasn't long before Frank gave us our instructions and you were seperated out into Light workers which involved 'Brashing' (collecting heather for the underneath part of the track) stripping bark off logs, collecting stones etc or heavy work which included shovelling gravel and carrying.
Someone fill this up for me will you!
We all tried each of the jobs and frequently swapped around so as we were not under constant pressure so it was nice to see that our health was being looked after and also on board was Robert Gandon of the original Mountain Meitheal up in Wicklow to explain each job to us and the tools we would be using etc and how to use them safely.

I would like to say a massive thank you to the following members of Bishopstown hillwalkers who turned up on the day to freely give there time to what is no doubt a very deserving project.

Tom and I showing how it's done
 Mike Murphy, J.J.Cotter, Josephine Falvey, Imelda McSweeney, Tom McCarthy, Mags Cotter, Noel Murphy, Marie Foster, Trish O'Connor and Deccie O'Connor. 

Both Jimmy Barry (Chairman) and Frank were very impressed with the work put in by our members and you all did our club proud.

Hopefully we will have more work days in the future and other volunteers from the club.

As you can see from the picture of the stairs and waterbar etc we put a huge amount of work in and will get great satisfaction from this for many years to come.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Scotland 2013 ( The crocked and banjaxed tour!!)

Torridon 2013 

Lord Berkleys Seat

I have already been to the Highlands of Scotland on previous occassions both with Bishopstown hillwalkers and on my own winter mountaineering. I had never though been to the Northern highlands and the Torridian sandstone hills with all there fabulous seascapes, lochs, remoteness and mostly...scrambling.

12 members including myself booked up straight away and we organised accommodation, flights and car hire fairly quickly.

We had 5 seriously hard days walking and scrambling to look forward to and we were all in the climbing wall in the Mardyke arena honing up our skills ready for the scrambling ahead............unfortunately due to a fall on the wall I damaged the ligaments on the outside of my ankle and chipped the bone!!  

What was I to do I was supposed to be leading this week.  A huge Thanks go out to Pat Broderick and Victor Hurley as my physio allowed me to do the scrambling routes but I was not allowed to do long walks in so fortunately both Pat and Victor lead two of the walks for me. 

Day one and the weather was good...not only good but great, so was the forecast for the coming week, perfect.

Our first walk was Beinn Alligin and the Horns of Alligin:  A walk with scrambling, 13.5km 1393m ascent, 6 hours and 45 mins.

This was a very pleasant walk to start with a stream walk into an open valley, the climbing up to the horns started straight away and didn't disappoint. we soon gained our first munro Sgurr Mhor... be warned future walkers on this route that there is a large gash known as the black notch of the outcry which is a notorious drop off coming off Sgurr Mhor in bad weather.
Sgurr Mhor with the black notch of the outcry 

The next day was my rest day and as Marie, Tom and I went off sightseeing the others did Beinn Eighe. A+  walk 19.7 kms 8 hours 1036m ascent.

In Victors words: 
As with the rest of the walking in Scotland a well maintained pathway from our starting point led us through  a scenic valley,Liathach to the left and Sail Mhor on our right.Great views and an easy track led us to Loch Mhor Mhic Fhearchaic.

A track led around left side of the Loch with the towering Buttresses of Sail Mhor across.A hard scramble up a very loose scree slope and on to Ruadh Stac Mhor our first Munro of the day.A fine ridge walk and before we knew,Munro no two.Spidean Coire Nan Glach.Again the views back the way we had come were unreal.Another steep decent over rough ground ended another great day out.The only hiccup of the day was Victor refusing to carry Imelda:s GPS,too heavy!!!.

Day 3:  Liathach:  This was one of the two I couldn't wait to get my hands on!!  A+ walk 10kms 1400 m ascent 8 hrs 30

Beautiful Torridion Sandstone
Liathach is the range which overshadows the town of Torridon as you enter this area of the highlands and looks from the road coming in to be completely impossible to forge a route up through, with drops off on both sides and dry weather both the scrambling and the situation through the day were fantastic.... a hill walkers dream, views were stunning and we gained another 2 munros taking the tally so far this week up to a respectable six.

Day 4: Designated Rest day

Day 5: An Teallach and this walk was for me the jewel in the crown for the week, photos of this mountain will both terrify and impress you depending on your level of experience with scrambling............ we loved it!! A+ walk with serious scrambling.

Again the day started with dry weather and though we skirted around the bottom of An Teallach to it's west side to start our climb at no time did the mist lift from the top, keeping us in suspense over the actual level of scrambling for some time and further adding to the anticipation.  once on top we could finally see the way forward and we were not disappointed. Sandstone torrs rising up allowing all levels of difficulty...... it was a scramblers dream.
Sandstone Torrs

Day 6: and last walk of the week and while I was off again resting (in the Torridon inn) Victor and Pat took the helm again so I'll hand you over to Victor:

Another long walk in 4.6k but with some great views.Beinn Eighe to to our left Loch Maree in front and Slioch towering just to the right.A lovely warm day again,what a change from 2 years of rain. Met some of the locals on the way,much faster than us.The views on this one were  unsurpassed An Teallach,Isle of Skye Liathach etc. Only the one Munro this time. Brought our tally to 9 (Tom).A parting shot from Pat the Dirty Dozen was reduced to the Magnificent Seven was well received by all. Just as well we were on our last day,the Women With Att(sorry)Altitude starting to get out of hand.Wanting to be carried off the mountain!!!

Another successful trip to Scotland and one of my most favourite hillwalking spots in the world............ so where to next time guys..............isle of Skye or Glen Shiel and the sisters of Kintail.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Report on 38th Annual Maamturks Challenge 2013

Picture by Tim Leahy in 2007

On Saturday 13th April 28 members of the Club participated in the Annual Maamturks Challenge.  Completion times varied from 10 hours upwards but in truth this year it was all about the personal challenge from the perspective of fitness and navigation due to the atrocious weather from Maumahoge onwards.   For all the first timers(13) it really was a tough initiation after a few years of very pleasant weather – and, it can only get better.   Many clubs are amazed we have so many walkers of this standard but it does not just happen overnight. Much planning went into this challenge and we must thank the various leaders, the likes of Victor, Pat, Tom, Imelda, Julie, Michael, David, Ger, John & Dec etc who organised many walks aimed specifically at the event.  So take a well deserved bow.  All the walkers went into serious training over the past few months to achieve these levels of fitness.  As mention, we had 28 members participating and all finished.  The organisers reported 187 registerd walkers started with 134 finishing.
Bishopstown had almost 21% of the finishers – fantastic going. 

In no particular order our walkers were:
Declan O’Connor
Trish O’Connor
Deirdre O’Connell
Marie O’Brien
Imelda McSweeney
Kevin Finn
Catherine Duggan
Sharon Godfrey
Louise O’Leary
Eleanor O’Leary
Michael Henchion
Tom McCarthy
Colin Sweetman
Aiden O’Driscoll
Tommy McGreevy
John Hallissey
Mary Walsh
Pat McCarthy
David Clayton
Victor Hurley
Josephine Falvey
Michael Carey
Jerry Foley
Dermot O’Reilly
Pat O’Dwyer
Joanne Humphries
Harry Dillane
Tony Frawley

The majority of us stayed in the Leenane Hotel, an excellent base for the walk. And what service, with full breakfast available from 3.45am onwards Saturday morning.  The hotel is located immediately across the road from the finish so hot showers, baths may be had immediately – a great reward.  Excellent group meal and a few drinks Saturday night after we had all  cleaned up.

What of the Challenge itself: a tale of two halves
With a weather forecast promising some very nasty wind, rain and mist after noon we decided to strike off as early as we could with most getting going around the 5.30am mark.  The forecasters got it right with clear skies and a breeze to our backs as with head torches alight we struck off in the dark into a climb of over 500 meters to Corcog, (609m) followed by a quick decent of over 200 meters to be followed by another 240 meters up to Mullagh Glas.  By now you new it was a challenge.  And this is what the Maamturks is all about, with and steep ascents followed by as many steep decents.  Continuing on, we reached Maumean (St Patricks Well) in around 3 hours.  Ever conscious of the weather we skipped the usual stop and continued up to Binn Chaonaigh for our first real break.  From here it is a good stretch all the way to Maum Ochoige, which is approx. half way in distance and over 60% of climbing.  Onwards we climbed towards Maum Ean and we were starting to think of times at this stage but as forecast the weather had other ideas and soon we were met with gale force winds, rain and thick mist – from here on navigation became the order of the day and as luck would have it most of the Bishopstown walkers came together and it was like the usual club walk – not planned but a nice surprise.  We and a number of others trekked our way to the Col of Despondency, (at one stage I reckon there were at least 40 walkers in single file moving along pied piper style.)  Our final break before the final climb up Leenane Hill, nothing special on a regular walk but after about 9 hours it can hurt and this year it was waiting for us, as it were, with very severe south easterly gales all the way to the top.  Indeed, many walkers were bowled over on this climb.  Thankfully, from the top the wind was to our backs and the rain eased off and the descent to the finish in Leenane village was relatively easy. 

Suffice to say that after a couple of nice years the Maamtuks reputation of being one of if the toughest walk on the walking calendar has been reinstated.  Will we be back in 2014 – lets wait and see!!

Comments on the Walk: Whilst I understand that NUIG Monutaineering Club do this on a voluntary basis there are some issues which they might consider.  The walkers also put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the Challenge also.
  1. Registration – despite arriving at 5am it was after 5.30am before we got going due to a very slow moving queue.  As the majority of people pre-registered perhaps the Walk Cards could be sent out beforehand with walkers being punched in at the start.
  2. Start – Walkers would appreciate being bused to the start as happens with most of the linear National walks.  Leenane would benefit also as walkers would be more inclined to stay in the vicinity overnight providing much needed income for the local hostelries.  
I have tracked down some links from the day which you may find of interest.

There are very few photos available but a small slide show taken in the early stages are available here:

Some thoughts and comments from the day

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Women With Altitude

The Author at the Intro to Climbing course
   Women With Altitude Glendalough Wicklow 2013

Having first heard about the women with altitude weekend after it's first year in the Mournes mountains two years ago in the quarterly mountain log I had decided that I would go the second year.  Unfortunately in it's second year it was held in Donegal which was too far to travel to but after reading a glowing report in the mountain log afterwards decided that I would hopefully be able to attend it in it's third year.

Maureen O'Brien, Pat Brodrick, Melanie Murphy and I all decided that we would go the third year when they announced that it would be held in Glendalough, Wicklow to represent the female members of Bishopstown hillwalking club.

Firstly let me make it quite clear that Women with Altitude is not for die hard A walkers who want to run a walk at breakneck speed.  This is a celebration of women of ALL levels of ability including C and D walkers.

There was plenty of choice from the extensive weekend programme with the option of paying to do a specialized course on the Saturday as either a full day or 2 half day courses.  There was also hill walks to suit all level of abilities which were free.  I opted for a half days intro to rock climbing followed by an afternoon of technical climbing, Maureen was instructing on the basic navigation course, Melanie did a days scrambling in Glendalough and Pat did ropework for hillwalkers which she was supposed to follow in the afternoon with intro to rock climbing.  Unfortunately this was cancelled due to the weather and she opted instead for a river ascent.

Other courses available included lower traverse to St kevins bed, multi-pitch climbing, introduction to mountain biking, basic and intermediate navigation skills, walk and talk on the environment (flora & fauna) digital photography....the list just goes on and on.

Friday night and our guest speaker was climber Jane Gallwey who solo climbed "Lurking Fear" on El Cap. her talk was inspiring to others to say the least.  All participants attended a three course meal in the Glendalough hotel on Saturday night and a slideshow with guest speaker Orla Pendergast. 

Sunday then saw workshops which you could attend or just head out for the hills doing your own thing, both Maureen and I decided as members of mountain rescue to go to the Glen of Imaals new base and hear a talk about women in rescue, Melanie looked at how to become a leader and Pat looked at nutrition for the mountains, this is just a taste of the workshops that day as you could do two workshops each before lunch.

Before lunch we had a slideshow by mountaineering irelands access and conservation officer Helen lawless on walking in the Pyrenees and a talk on the up coming mountaineering Ireland alpine meet.

The participants came from all clubs and walks of life across the country, the instructors gave there time freely to reduce the costs of the courses and the organisers were exceptional.  I am pleased to say that  it was great to catch up with some old friends but also to discover some new ones after the weekend.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Maureen O'Brien, Pat Brodrick and Melanie Murphy for there company and the laughs...........

Check out the Women with Altitude website at

I am hoping to put a group of women from Bishopstown hillwalkers together for next years meet so if anyone is interested please do not hesitate to get onto me.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No. 2 Gully Comeraghs Report

Whilst the wind was a cold south easterly the skies were blue and visibility was excellent as we made our way to Kilclooney Wood at the eastern edge on the Comeraghs. This walk was different in that we had a gully climb and plenty of scrambling to look forward to. Starting from the wood we ascended up the eastern ridge of Coumshingoun Lake to the plateau above the Lake and from there we crossed to Fas Coum, at 792m, the highest point in the Comeraghs, The black bog as it was totally frozen for a change.

We then made our way to the top of Mahon Falls and the base of what is known locally as Number 2 Gully. Given that much of the Mahon River was frozen we were concerned about the state of the gully but all was well and for the most part it was free of ice and it made for a wonderful scramble. There are a couple of tricky bits and it is not for beginners. Lunch was had at the top of the Gully in a nice windless area. From here we climbed to Knock an Piobaire, at 726m, and then to the eastern ridge above the Mahon river for another hour of scrambling.
The conglomerate nature of the rock makes for wonderful scrambling with lots for hand and foot holds. Having reached the southern end on the ridge we descended down and contoured north easterly to arrive back where we started in Kilclooney Wood. The walk took 6 hours with 980m ascending. Many thanks to Julie Reeves whose idea this was.
Thanks to John Cotter, Kevin Finn and Dan Mccarthy a selection of photos are available Here

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Brecon Beacons Trip - March 2013

For St. Patricks weekend a group of walkers ably led by Colin Sweetman headed off to South Wales for three days of walking in the Brecon Beacons. Below is a a slideshow of some wonderful photos taken over the weekend. The contrast of snow, short sleeves and sunshine in some photos will only serve to make us wish we all had gone. Many thanks to Colin for undertaking this first time trip for the club to this area of Wales.
A link to a slideshow is available Here

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Challenge Walks 2013

A list of the various Challenge Walks held throughout the country are available Here

Thanks to Tom Milligan of the Walkers Association.