Summit cairn and shelter on Croaghgorm.
I ended my last post stepping on to the broad summit of Croaghgorm. The top was a large area however, and I was not yet at the highest point, with many little minor tops and gullies to explore. The little summit I first encountered had its own cairn.
After some more descent and ascent I could see the summit proper, with a stone shelter/cairn marking the high point.
Looking west from the summit.
It was now getting darker, with stormy clouds gathering, and a chilling wind rising. The small,stone structure on the summit may not look like much, but it actually provides very effective shelter from the wind. I was very grateful for it as I sat inside for a rest and a drink, the wind well blocked. The day had certainly got colder and gloomier as I put my rucksack back on. It too seemed heavier, and again, I pondered whether I would be able to reach both Lavagh More and Lavagh Beg on this outing.
I turned my attention to exploring the summit area, while moving generally in a northwest direction towards Lavagh More. One of the things I was looking out for was any trace of a World War Two RAF Sunderland plane which had crashed on the mountain in 1944, while returning at night to its base in Co. Fermanagh. The plane was a “flying boat” based on Lough Erne, and had been patrolling over the Atlantic for 13 hours in bad weather. Almost back to safety, it had crashed on that dark night into Croaghgorm, killing seven of the crew. One of the survivors managed to make it down off the mountain and get help from the Irish speaking locals. Standing on the wild summit as the weather worsened, I could only imagine the terror of the experience, and wonder at the survivor’s effort in making it down. Some of the wreckage is still there, including the engine, but unfortunately, I did not come across any of it, and think now that i was looking too far north. I think it will be worth a return journey here to seek out the wreckage as I have a better idea now of where to look, and it is an incredible story. I would also like to see the impressive vistas that opened out before me, in better light than I was now getting.
The white quartz on Ardnaageer SW Top still visible, in the distance.
The Derryveagh Mountains in the far distance.
Lavagh More – my next destination.
Rain and gloom in the west.
Beginning to descend towards the col across to Lavagh More.
Another view over Croaghanard Lough. There is forested area at the other side of the Lough which continues to stretch along the valley, and it made my knees twinge in concern to think that my car was parked at the far end of those trees.
But before taking that walk, I still had to get up and down Lavagh More. At this stage of the day, and from this angle, it looked very steep. It was really only the fact that it was on the route back anyway and had to be done, that allowed me to summon up the energy to start climbing again.
Almost at the mid point between Croaghgorm and Ardnageer, and time to start ascending again.
I must admit, that my progress up the steep slope of Lavagh More was very slow. My knees were getting increasingly sore, and the rucksack seemed to drag me down. At the top, I would have the option to continue on to Lavagh Beg, or start down into the Reelan Valley and back towards the car. Lavagh More had to be climbed first however, and I’ll cover that stage in my next post.