|Date: 4th July 2009
Submitted by: Anthony Feeney
PJ, Mike and I decided to squeeze in some last minute pre-Alps leg workand decided to do the Glover in reverse, starting from the Errigal NNE ridge (which some jolly jester suggested could be found at the bottom on the NNE side) and ending on Muckish. George would have come too but a virus had knocked him for six and he wasn't up to it. He was also quick to point out that far from being a 3-pint wonder it may have been the virus that had him trembling on Pangur Ban. Yes, George.
We met at Creeslough at 9am on Saturday morning, Mike and I a little early for a change, which gave me time to trim the toenails in preparation for a model shoot that afternoon. We dropped my car at the end of the Muckish miner's track and then drove the 30 mile trip round to Errigal. I'm sure there's a shorter way than going back through Kilmacrennan, maybe via Falcarragh, but we stuck to what we knew.
Mike had optimistically brought suncream but the weather was overcast and stayed that way for most of the day. It made for a welcome cool breeze on the ridge though as we scooted up, passing through a hole in the rock that some CCC members might have had difficulty with.
Errigal was quickly dispatched then and we barely paused before pushing on to Mackoght, this time taking a more contoured line than I had previously. It meant we didn't drop too far and thus have to re-ascend unnecessarily and as the day progressed I realised that my biggest mistake last time out was taking the most direct line to the next point, instead of the easiest.
On top of Mackoght we re-enacted my desperate face as I saw Errigal looming ahead last time and then laughingly headed for Breaghy, where we paused briefly to take in Aghla Mor and that super-long ascent from Altain farm.
There was a light shower on the descent but we stayed in t-shirts as the day was relatively warm and we hoped to dry out quickly. But down on the beach at Lough Altain we had barely settled down for sambos when a heavy squall unleashed itself on us. We quickly donned the coats and hunkered down on rocks near the beach to wait it out, getting very wet bummed in the process.
More contouring took us up behind Altain farm and along the fence line and another shower forced us into the full wet-weather gear which we never felt brave enough to remove after that. It was quite a slog to get to the top of Agha Mor, 3 false ridges keeping you in the hope you were nearly there only to dash them as another hoved into sight.
Generally it was Mike or me out in front with PJ making up the rear and probably wishing Sandra had come along for her to have someone to talk to. I'd managed to stay ahead of Mike for the first 3 peaks but after Breaghy I didn't have enough puff to squeeze out that last burst of speed and he was well ahead on Aghla Mor.
From there though we travelled very quickly across the col, this time only 1 false ridge to break the heart on the cloudy Ardloughnabrackbaddy. An easy tramp up Aghla Beg (last time I'd stay ahead) and then down the ridge to the stream before Crocknalaragh. The weather had held off for a while and we enjoyed a long rest before starting achingly up this lumpy mess of a hill. All the contouring in the world couldn't iron out the ups and downs and, although not the highest hill in the group, lengthwise it seems to go on for ever.
I felt like I was running on empty by the top so a chocolate snack and a few wine gums were called for. Pity that my bag had burst and the wine gums were now a wet sticky mess at the bottom the rucksack. Yum! We'd been accompanied by rolling thunder the whole way over the hill and as PJ looked round a huge sheet of rain was coming right at us. We'd just finished the snack when it broke over us and gave us a right battering, making for a miserable mucky descent to the start of Muckish.
I dare say if we'd parked the car here we'd have forgotten about Muckish altogether and we joked for a while about hitching a lift to Creeslough, but we're made of sterner stuff than that and struggled on after another longish rest. The ascent for me felt something like "3 steps, pause, 3 steps pause" and we kept telling each other little white lies about how far up we were but we made it eventually, Mike well out in front again.
It was a relatively pleasant descent down the miner's track and we even had a spot of too little too late sunshine. By that stage we were as wet as could be inside and out. I was damn glad to get a soft seat and take the weight off again.
We'd a celebratory beer and a bit of craic in Dunlewy and then all headed tiredly home. In hindsight it wasn't the best idea to continue on the beer in Derry, mere hours later. It was an even worse idea to get up and dance after a few pain killing shots but sure Sundays were made for lying in bed suffering.
07 Jul 2009
Just need to point out that PJ was overtaking me on Muckish and we were all much closer together than the report may have suggested. And I forgot to mention the scree slide down from the miner's track. Great fun!