I posted just after Christmas about a failed attempt to hike over Brown’s Hill and Croaghnageer in the Bluestack Mountains – https://aidymcglynn.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/bluestacks-in-winter/ On that occasion the weather had defeated me. However, with good weather forecast for a Saturday in early January, the time was ripe for another try.
I set off from the parking spot on the N17 at the Northern end of Barnesmore Gap, along a forestry road which would take me close to the foot of Brown’s Hill.
This cut away section of peat shows how wet the ground was.
I left the road to head out across the bog. It was hard walking across boggy, uneven, overgrown ground initially, as is usually the case in the Bluestacks. At this point it didn’t look hopeful for Croaghnageer, which can be seen here enshrouded in cloud, behind Brown’s Hill. Being new to hill-walking, I like to stay well within my limitations, and navigating in that cloud, with the complex terrain and some steep drops, didn’t appeal to me.
Brown’s Hill was clear however so I pushed on for it, hoping the cloud on Croaghnageer would move on.
Looking over to Croaghconnellagh while crossing the bog to Brown’s Hill.
Reaching the foot of the hill, I crossed this burn to the left and started on the slope, which was steep, and still wet and boggy.
A view down towards Lough Mourne from the lower slopes. At this point I began to encounter snow on the ground, which started to become rockier with less thick grass and heather.
With height, the ground began to level out, and I soon reached this cairn marking a minor summit on the hill, although not yet the highest point. In the background, the summit of Croaghnageer was now beginning to clear.
Barnes Lough can just be seen below, on the left. Its only by leaving the road and entering the mountains that it can be seen.
You can just make out Benbulben through the haze to the West.
Looking South at the summit cairn.
Views to the North were less murky.
At this height, conditions were freezing.
Time for a wander around the summit area, exploring the twisted rocks, and appreciating the panoramic views in the constantly changing light.
Croaghnageer was now clear of cloud, and there was an elevated, flat valley between Brown’s Hill and its upper slopes. I made the short descent to the valley which seemed very remote, and had an almost otherworldly atmosphere in the evening light.
Beginning my ascent of Croaghnageer.
I was well on my way on probably my longest mountain hike yet. I had Brown’s Hill, at 498 metres under my belt, and with Croaghnageer at 571 metres ahead, it is a good point to finish. I will continue the journey in a second post.