Having come up the Hydro Track to Lough Eighter, the hard work now started as I began to ascend the steep, rock strewn slopes of Cnoc Iochtair. It was really steep in places, and I often found myself scrambling, with the use of hands required. Even the less steep parts were awkward walking at times, due to the sheer amount of rocks scattered over the mountain side. The wind was also becoming an increasing problem, and as I gained more height, it became stronger than I’ve ever experienced before. I had the added stability of hiking poles, but unbelievably, I was actually blown off my feet three times! Sometimes I would have to crouch down between the rocks and wait for a particularly bad series of gusts to pass. I had another first, when the wooly hat I was wearing, which hugs the head tightly, was actually blown off – I’ve never had that happen before! Luckily it got trapped between two rocks and I was able to retrieve it.
It was difficult to get any sharp photos in these conditions as the wind shook me around, and I resorted to just taking four or five shots at a time in continuous mode, hoping that at least one would be sharp – sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. As I reached the summit in particular, it was virtually impossible to stand up, never mind take a photo, and all the shots I have at the summit cairn are too blurry to use. On the plus side, the summit of Cnoc Iochtair, and the surrounding peaks, were staying largely cloud free for now, and I was at least getting some views. It also still felt safe to proceed, and there were occasional lulls, when I could continue, crouching down during the worst spells of wind.
I could clearly see the Inch Strand promontory jutting out from the Dingle Peninsula in the distance.
Lough Eighter below.
One of the many boulders and rocks that littered the slopes. I was glad of the shelter they provided several times.
A good vantage point to look along part of the horseshoe ahead, with Coomloughra lough, which gives the route its name, closest, and the attached Lough Eagher beyond.
The summit cairn just made it into the left side of this shot, looking north. The wind was unbelievably strong up here, and this was one of the few photos at the summit to come out sharp enough to use.
Crouching on top of the 747 metre high Cnoc Iochtair, the strength of the wind made me doubt whether I could complete the horseshoe on this trip. The exposed Beenkeragh Ridge demands respect at the best of times, and might be ill-advised today. Even the ascent of Beenkeragh itself might prove too dangerous in this wind. But, I was happy to have at least reached one summit, which was one more than I had on my last attempt at this route, and I was more than comfortable proceeding to the next summit, the 848 metre high Skregmore.