Ireland day 0046. Saturday 13 November 2021- Glenbarrow

Ireland day 0046. Saturday 13 November 2021- Glenbarrow
Today’s summary A circular walk with the Dublin Walking Club in the Slieve Bloom mountains near Portlaoise.   A member who lives nearby in Portmarnock kindly gave me a lift there and back
Today’s weather Fine and mostly dry, though cloudy and extremely humid.   Mist on the summits.  A bit of drizzle, but no real rain and absolutely no wind.    About 14C
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Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location
(Click the button below to download a GPX of today’s walk):
Glenbarrow walk

Our exploration of Ireland so far has mostly concentrated mainly on the east coast to the north of Dublin.   So when the Dublin Walking Club announced that they were organising a walk in the remote-sounding Slieve Bloom mountains, I immediately realised that this was an opportunity to venture a bit further west that was too good to be missed.

The only problem was that the meeting point, to the south west of here, was about 100 km / 60 miles away.   The distance and the early start time of 9:30 am posed a bit of a problem given that we don’t have a car at the moment, so I had spent the week trying to work out travel arrangements that might enable me to get there by public transport.   As it happens, there was in fact a potential solution in that the 726 bus from the airport to Portlaoise stops very close to the meeting point, and more to the point it runs 24×7 so I figured the 6:30 am bus would get me there on time.   And one of the reasons for yesterday’s excursion to the airport was to find out exactly where it left from (which I managed to do).  That just left the problem of getting to the airport from Malahide at that ungodly hour, but I reckoned that I could solve that by forking out for a taxi.

So I was all prepped up for an eye-wateringly early start when I got a message from the Club Secretary who told me that a member from Portmanock, just down the road from here, was going to be driving and would give me a lift.   So I gratefully accepted and had an extra two hours in bed this morning.   A fantastic outcome, and much appreciated.

The Slieve Bloom mountains are a neat little group of hills, almost slap-bang in the middle of Ireland.   They aren’t massively high – 500m at most – but they are relatively well provided with waymarked hiking trails, many of which are board-walked.  They are quite boggy , so walking off the prepared tracks is hazardous as you’d be struggling through a gloopy mass of peat, much like the Derbyshire stretches of the Pennine Way used to be, before the flagstones were put down.  The other attraction of the hills is that they are well off the beaten tourist track – most visitors speed past on the M7 motorway on their way to the fleshpots of Cork and Limerick.

Today we headed up the Ridge of Capard, and the well-built stone man cairn (featured at the top of this blog) just below the summit.   There are supposed to be outstanding views from up there but unfortunately, a thick claggy mist descended and blotted out everything more than a few metres in front our faces.   It was a bit of a shame as I was hoping that if we had had a day of the same clarity as our trek up Maulin a couple of weeks ago, I would have been able to test out my theory that I should be possible to see both the west and east coasts of Ireland at the same time.   Other members of the Club assure me it’s not possible, but nevertheless I’d like to have failed to see it with my own eyes.   A project for another day, evidently.

With the short days now, we only had a couple of hours of decent walking light left, so we headed swiftly back down to the car park, then packed up and headed for home before it got completely dark.

Altogether an excellent day out, and a wonderful exploration of a so-far hidden part of Ireland.   And I’m so glad that I can enjoy the evening now with a relaxing beer and a leisurely dinner, rather than having to struggle to stay awake while trying to recover from a ridiculously early start.

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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The Slieve Bloom hills are right in the middle of Ireland and not on the tourist trail.   they are not huge – topping out at about 500m / 1500ft, but relatively endowed with public trails Waterfalls upstream on the River Barrow.   The brown colour shows the catchment area must contain a lot of peat.   Or a Guinness factory
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There’s a lost village half way up the hill.   The plaque commemorates the last inhabitants, who moved out in 1962. Ruins of the last inhabited house.   Now being rapidly reclaimed by the forest.   Apparently in the first world war, the area was ploughed and cultivated for food.   But because of the shortage of horses – so many were killed in the war – bullocks were used to pull the ploughs.   It is said that they were shod, just like horses, to protect their hooves
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Quite a lot of the trail is board-walked which is great for keeping you out of the bog.   But the wood gets greasy in the wet and they can be a bit hazardous to walk along, especially downhill, as I found out to my cost on the final steep downhill section.   Fortunately only my pride was injured Abundant white fungus growing in the woodland by the path on the way back to car park.   I’m not sure exactly what it is – but one of my mycologist friends thinks it’s Clavaria rugosa, or wrinkled club fungus.   It’s supposed to be edible but I didn’t fancy giving it a try
Walking through autumnal woodland to the River Barrow and the falls, a little further upstream.  It’s a very meandering river and is actually the second longest in Ireland.   It rises in the Slieve Bloom mountains, where we walking today, and enters the Celtic Sea at Waterford in south-east Ireland
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