At the car park, ready to start on a grey morning.
This was my second attempt at the Coomloughra Horseshoe after a failed effort earlier in the year due to the weather. This time, I wasn’t completely successful, but I got a lot further than the last – enough that the journey was worthwhile and I could leave happy. The plan was to begin the walk at the car park near the start of the Hydro Road. I could follow the road – a rough track really, up to Lough Eighter. I would then ascend Cnoc Iochtair and continue along the horseshoe shaped line of mountains, going over Skregmore, Stumpa Barr na hAbhann and Beenkeragh. Beenkeragh would be the first 900 metre plus summit, and the route gets trickier from there, going across the notorious Beenkeragh Ridge, crossing another 900 metre summit, The Bones Peak, on the way to Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain. Two more 900 metre plus summits – Caher and Caher West Top are ascended before the route descends again, eventually rejoining the Hydro Road.
I had arrived at the car park the night before in darkness, and slept in the car so I could start at first light. In the morning, I was optimistic despite the cloud cover and very strong wind. At least this time, I could see the surrounding mountains. Leaving the car park there is short track that soon joins the Hydro Road which is a track, gravel in parts, concrete in others, that rises steadily on the way to Lough Eighter which is used as a water source. It was a nice, easy start to the walk, giving a chance to warm up before the steep climbing started.
Starting along the Hydro Road, with views already towards the Dingle Peninsula in the distance.
The way ahead.
A look backwards along the track.
Even at this lower altitude, the wind was quite strong, but nothing worrying yet.
A view over Lough Acoose.
Ahead lies the first summit of the day, Cnoc Iochtair.
Lough Eighter coming into view, with the mountains forming part of the horseshoe behind. I would cross the stream exiting the lough here, turning to the left, and begin the real ascent up the steep side of Cnoc Iochtair.
Beginning to ascend Cnoc Iochtair. It was very steep here in places, and the use of hands was required in several places.
I was well on the way now, heading up the steep, rock covered slopes of Cnoc Iochtair. It looked like on this visit I would attain one summit at least!