Conquering Ireland #1: The Galtee Mountains
“Good news for outdoor activity lovers as the weekend will be dry and sunny.”Hungarian Radio Station
Rolling out from the bed every morning hoping today is going to be – at least – sunny. The radio announces the fair weather forecast for the Hungarians while I’m searching for the most suitable attire for hiking in Ireland. The mission is not a piece of cake. Despite of the joint efforts of the Irish forecast the weather conditions are unpredictable in the island. Rain can hit in like a horrible headache and sticks with you all day meanwhile the freezing wind dries out all the skin it can reach. A hiker always has to be equipped for the worst scenario while hoping for a better outcome.
Waiting for the perfect weather for an outdoor activity in Ireland is a waste of time. Obviously the summer is milder while the winter can be ruthless, but the climate is always as capricious as a kinky teenager.
However, hiking groups offering weekend walks can be found all around Ireland. An excellent option for amateur backpackers. The idea is to congregate at a meeting point in the city, pop in to a car of a member and drive to the feet of the mountain where the groups start their walks in different levels.
The North Galtees:
The kickoff of our hiking adventures commenced with Ireland’s highest mountain range. Obviously, newbies start with the “easy” level group, hence we took a beaten path to the Lough Muskry. The higher we ascended, the more we were captured by the mountain ridges.
A triangle of trees defines the starting point of the passageway to the Lake Muskry. We commence ascending on the declivous woodland path. On the side a small sign on a stake indicates our destination “Lough Muskry”. A little treasure hunt to notice these sometimes covert signs, however they lead us all the way to the lake.
After a serene ramble up on the knoll we reach a stile which stands as a firm gate to the Galtee Mountains. From here the forest dissolves and a rugged, steep track leads us persistently upwards. The sudorific march begins and I’m unsure if I should leave my coat on, although the wind is freezing.
A brief slope at the end of the trail, and we reach our main destination, the Lough Muskry. We all settle for a quick lunch beside the lake, just at the foot of the Galty Ridge which imposingly heaves high above us.
The frore wind urges us to leave hastily but we’re not heading back yet. Our guide leads us around the lake on the soggy moorland where rare rock forms appear. Although, they seem like human-built, they have been shattered over the years since Ice Age.
Gazing over the highland some rocks seem to move, and then turns out it’s just the sheep’s fur acts as a camouflage. They are all around the countryside, watching us on our way but never draw near, like staring guards at the jewelry’s. Skulls embedded in the mud probably ill-fated sheep previously caught by a fox.
We retrace our steps on the same rocky road and amble down on the hill, stopping only for those moments when the sun rekindles the colors of the landscape. The air slowly stops maneuvering as we descend to the woodland again.
Four hours has passed since we head off to the mountains and we are finally back at the starting point. The Irish weather was benevolent with us all day as not a single raindrop has fallen on us. The tiredness hits us while sitting in the car and being driven back to Cork. The “D” level walk was just excellent for this vernal Sunday.
Which group should you choose? As one of our hiking mate explained, ‘ “D” level is the “talk talk and walk” group, “C” level is the “walk and talk” group while the “B” level is the “walk walk and a little talk” group’. Though first time start with the “D” one, then choose based on garrulousness. 😉
Possible only by car, I’d recommend to download the offline map as the signal is weak in the area.
Sneakers are definitely discouraged as the path becomes jagged on the steeper part. Waterproof boots, jacket and trousers with gloves, scarf and hat at least in the backpack. Remember, it’s Ireland, the island with one of the most unpredictable weather on Earth!
The Hiking Group from Cork we joined, the Cork Backpackers 🙂
Numeral details of the Lough Muskry Walking Route 💡
Great read from Irish Times: ➡ No match for Muskry
Visiting a country, why not go hiking? With the group opportunities you don’t even need to worry about the route! Great hiking trails and welcoming community we experience anytime we join for an outdoor adventure. Going local? Go with locals! 😉
Walking on the edge of the World at the Thrilling Cliffs of Moher
More useful info 👇