Now the consolidation period of my Summer Mountain Leader training has started, it is back to the hills in the dark days and nights. Last Friday I caught the St. Kevin’s Bus down to Glendalough (Glen of the Two Lochs) and headed for the Lugduff ridge for a night bivvy. I headed up the glen through the forest tracks towards Lugduff. This involved picking up the Wicklow Way, which is a good trail in some places but in others the trail makes extensive use of paired railway sleepers to raise the trail about the fragile bog. These are difficult in the dark, as the flat light from a LED headtorch can lead to missing steps down. I made it to the path below the ridge and struck off. Then the fun began!
Many of the summits are low and rounded with peat workings. The workings aren’t marked on maps but this doesn’t make them any less of an obstacle. I missed a trench and went down a good metre or so. No harm done to me but the walking pole did not survive.
Snap! Walking pole that didn’t survive
At this point I became aware of how extensive peat workings around me and decided it was time to bivvy down. New bivvy bag was deployed in a small hollow just big enough for me and dinner was accompanied by the roaring of the stags at the rut.
Spent a pretty comfortable night and moved with the early light. A brief spell of clearish visibility let me get over Lugduff easily enough. On the way up the slope I saw two stags eyeing each other up but one of the hinds barked and all parties were off to other parts of the hill.
On the crossing of the slope towards the next peak the sun broke through and cast my shadow on to the mist lying below me, generating a Brocken Spectre. I was the Great Grey Man of well, er, a nameless bit of bog.
Started making my way to Conavallal and the visibility closed in. I headed for the summit but ran into incised peat hags, which forced me to rely on the compass.
Eventually I decided to head down the hill and relocate myself. After 500m or so I hit a forestry edge and that gave me a new bearing for the summit cairn, which I found successfully.
Crossed towards Table Mountain but had similar problems there in peat banks and gave up and made for the Table Track and then down into Glenmalure. Passed several memorials to the people who fought for Irish Independence in the 1798 revolt against British Rule. As I retreated down the glen the cloud burned off on the ridges but such is life. There are no certainties on the hill.
One big difference in the Ordnance Survey Ireland maps (at least Sheet 56) is how few features are named, compared to the Scottish Mountains. It does make you rely a lot more on slope features, so you’re working harder on your navigation than looking for named topographic features.
Got a lift back to Laragh from a kind chap who had been up Mount Leinster that morning and back by bus for Korean BBQ and beer in Dublin.
Next trip I am looking at is Kippure by any route other than the track to the transmitter and then onwards to the ring of high hills above the Kilbride Firing Range.