With the long Easter weekend and the school holidays, it is an ideal time to get away and do some hiking. The Wednesday Troop has a strong tradition of hiking, during the non-boating months of the winter. For the last three years, Skipper Clancy has led a group of Ventures to Kerry, Galway and Snowdonia in Wales. This year it was back to Co. Kerry to tackle Ireland’s highest mountain range, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.
We headed south to Kerry on Good Friday, travelling by train and road. After a massive shop in Killarney it was on to the Black Valley Hostel. We spent the evening producing route cards for the next three days of hiking as well as preparing dinner and lunch for the next day. Up early on Saturday, as this was our longest days hiking and also the most climbing.
We took the long ascent up to Cnoc na Péiste, and then walked up and down the long ridge around towards Carrauntoohill. It was bright, but freezing cold with some ice and frozen snow still on the ground. We had a quick lunch break at the top of the Devils Ladder, before climbing the final 350 metres or so, to the summitt, and the highest point in Ireland. Plenty of chatting was down with the other climbers who were all enjoying the amazing panoramic views that reward you for your efforts.
After the obligatory photo, it was onto the steep arete (ridge) over to Caher mountain. Then we began our long decent down to 100m and onto the Kerry Way back to the hostel. Some 22km later and 1600m climbed, we were tired, but proud of the great achievement. Easter Sunday, saw the clocks jump forward an hour, so any lie in was cancelled! Today was meant to be an easier day, but the weather had a different idea! Cllimbing up to Purple Mountain, was tricky and steep. There was low cloud at 500m and very strong winds. However as we pushed higher, it started hailing/sleet/snow. Along with the frozen ground and low visibility, it made the final push to the summit very difficult (and painful!) Navigating on through the snow and cloud, we continued onto Tomies Mountain, before a steep decent to Kate Kearneys Cottage. We returned via a very windy road walk through the Gap of Dunloe.
The final day, saw us pack our bags into Ger’s car and we set off on our 18km hike along the Kerry Way to Killarney. A nice bright sunny day, and great scenery through the Killarney National Park was a good end to the expedition. Well done to the 15 ventures for taking on the challenge.