Last Sunday (15/02/2015), 25 hardy souls turned up for our tri-weekly club walk even though the forecast was less than favourable. The warning of heavy persistent rain in the early afternoon wasn’t enough to deter this bunch of seasoned walkers.
Under the guidance of John Lenihan we travelled south west from the starting position to take in an elevated viewing point over Lough Guitane. From here, we turned to a southerly direction to enter the Cappagh valley passing Lough Nabrean on our way in.
At the entrance, the valley floor is wide and flat with the Cappagh river flowing slowly as it meanders along looking for an escape route. As we continued, the steep valley sides seemed to close in on us and the river picked up pace as it gushed past boulders and descended waterfalls to get to the flat terrain behind us. Towards the back a second valley drops in from the west and the area once again opens up to give refuge to a stand of twisted and battered trees. We took advantage of this sheltered spot to take a break and refuel.
From here we turned East opting for a steep ascent rather than following the natural path of the valley which was found, by a previous scouting team, to contain a dangerous patch of ground with many holes and crevasses underfoot hidden by thick heather. A little exertion is better than the twisted angle!
Reaching the top of the saddle between Bennaunmore (454m) and a lesser submit (391m) we descended in a southerly direction until we were in line with the southern tip of Lough Crohane. Then we turned east and made our way over to the lake to take in another elevated viewing point. From here we could see the narrow gorge behind the lake to the north which would provide our route back.
We headed for the gorge along the western shore of the lake following sheep tracks through a wooded area with a steep drop off into the lake on our right. Putting a foot wrong here would result in an early bath for the unfortunate walker. Thankfully our gang can be pretty sure footed when needs be and no one took an involuntary dip.
Exiting the wooded area onto more level ground we continued towards to the narrow opening between the two formidable mountains ahead. Along the way we passed Lough Nabroda on it’s eastern side and spotted a shallow pool with Frog spawn piled high on top of the submerged grasses.
On reaching the narrowest point in the gorge the path inclined downwards over wet slippery rocks which were the cause of many a yelp from the group as we made our way out. Passing through another wooded area as we descended the last 150m we made good use of the branches on offer to stay upright as we went.
Finally the ground levelled off and we emerged into the a well grazed field where we picked up a path that took us back to our starting point. This brought to an end our trek through these beautiful glacial valleys in an area not much visited by walkers. Lady luck had smiled on us as she rewarded us for our “bravery” by holding off the heavy rain until we were on the road home.
I look forward to many return visits to area and experiencing how the seasons colour this landscape at the various points in the year.