I have a bit of a backlog to get through on editing photos and writing up posts, particularly from hillwalks over the last year or so. It was easy to quickly do a post on yesterday’s walk up Croaghagranagh in the Bluestack Mountains however, as the relentless rain meant I only took a handful of photos. Starting out from near the shore of Lough Eske, things didn’t seem too bad – the forecast was reasonably good and I was walking on, depending on your point of view, a bad road or a good track. But, even approaching the mountains, I could see that low cloud was obscuring them, far down their sides, and I was soon in the clouds as I ascended. It wasn’t raining heavily, but there was a light drizzle, or heavy mist hanging in the air, that would coat my lens in seconds when I tried to take photos. This got steadily worse, turning into a heavy, non-stop downpour. It also meant I was walking in a little bubble of visibility, getting no sight of the route ahead, the summit, or the views below.
Things got even more unpleasant when the track ran out, and I was on the open hillside. It is a convoluted, complicated landscape up there, difficult to navigate through at the best of times, and even more so with little visibility ahead. It is like a miniature mountain range, with lots of little hills and valleys, some steep sided, with several loughs to round, and a few streams in deep gullies to cross. It was very similar terrain to that I faced on a previous walk up to Lough Belshade nearby – 3 Peaks In The Bluestacks Part 1: To Lough Belshade. The ground itself was also sodden, with thick heather and tussocky grass which made for difficult walking. Despite it all, and the frustration of not being able to get the camera out, I was enjoying the day in a strange way. It was a very isolated, remote world up there, with the weather and darkness adding to the sense of being far removed from the world below.
A brief lull in the rain and I took a quick shot as I approached one of the streams and gullies that I would have to cross. Unfortunately, I don’t have a professional, weather-sealed camera, so most of the time, taking it out would have instantly killed it in heavy rain. Not that there was much to see anyway on the mist shrouded mountain.
Another brief moment of respite, and I grabbed an image of one of the loughs I passed.
As I reached the summit, I risked taking the camera out, and tried to shield it from the rain for a handful of photos to record the area, but visibility was very limited.
About to step on to the rocky cap that marks the summit.
I took a few quick photos around the summit area to give an idea of the poor visibility.
Once I attained the goal of reaching the summit, the walk back out was a bit of a slog, soaked through, in pouring rain and increasing darkness. It was now the sort of walk where the main pleasure is the sense of satisfaction at having endured the conditions afterwards when you’re warm and dry at home!
I paused for photos once more, crossing a stream, where I was able to get one image that didn’t have rain drops on the lens by taking several and wiping the lens after each one.
The one shot out of several I took in quick succession that didn’t have rain spots.
As night fell, I was thankfully back on the track and was able to make my way back to the car without stumbling through the rough terrain in pitch darkness, glad of the even surface. One of those walks that add to your experience and knowledge of the mountains in all their conditions if not exactly fun at the time.