Mid-Ulster Walkers head to Galtee and Slieve Bloom for autumn trip

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For its 2012 Autumn Trip the Mid-Ulster Walking Club travelled south to trek what was new ground for the Club in the Galtee and Slieve Bloom Mountains. The Damer Court Hotel in Roscrea provided the comfortable base for an eighteen-strong group.

On Saturday morning the group travelled on into South Tipperary for its walk in the Galtee Mountains. The walk was a straightforward horseshoe, approaching from the south and taking in Galtybeg and Galtymore, the latter the range’s highest peak and, at just over 3000 feet, Ireland’s fourteenth and final ‘Munro’.

It was a bright dry morning, ideal for what would be a long and steady climb to reach the top of Galtybeg at 799 metres. The summit brought a sudden sweeping view northwards, complementing that to the south. Descending along a narrow ridge the group turned for Galtymore. Beside them the ground fell away in sheer cliffs as the dramatic northern aspect of these mountains became apparent. Directly below lay Lough Diheen, one of a chain of flooded corries. All attempts to fathom its depths are foiled by the mischievous Pooka that resides there. The exposed heights brought strong cold winds and broken cloud swirled and eddied around Galtymore’s summit as the walkers climbed up. But, having gained the top (3017 ft / 919 m), a sheltered spot was found for lunch, gazing out over Waterford and the not too distant Knockmealdown Mountains.

Beginning their descent the walkers drifted slowly down towards the attractively wooded banks of the Attychraan River. Soon they would be back at their starting point. It had indeed been ‘a long way to go’, but these impressive mountains had been worth the journey.

The next day brought just a short walk in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, which extend across the Laois and Offaly border. Extensively forested lower slopes give way to unassuming rounded summits, which, though of modest height command far-ranging views. With a great diversity of plant and wildlife, there is then much to enjoy despite a reputation for excessive moisture overhead and underfoot. In the Slieve Blooms, reportedly, the water even runs uphill.

It was on a firm dry forest track however that the walkers set off, winding their way steadily uphill in the cheerful company of a large contingent of members from the Roscrea Ramblers. Rain arrived soon after the walkers emerged from the trees onto open hillside. But it was now only a short climb to the top of Arderin, the highest point of the Slieve Bloom Mountains at 527 metres. Descending, the walkers sidestepped off the main track to enjoy a very pleasant detour through the quiet heart of the forest, before the walk finally came to an end.

Thanks

This was a very successful weekend and particular thanks are due to the principal organiser, Club Chairman John Cooper. Thanks go also to the Roscrea Ramblers for their good company and for leading the walks. It is hoped to return their hospitality in 2013.

The Club AGM took place recently and a new Committee was elected, including John Cooper, George Hamill and Brian Casssidy as Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

On Sunday 25th November Catherine O’Neill and David Jewson will lead a Doan-Ben Crom walk in the Mournes. The very popular Thursday walks continue on December 6th with a Newry Canal walk led by Olwyn and John Forrester.

New Club members are always welcome, If interested please contact John (8774 7733) or George (8778 4081). For Thursday walks specifically please contact Ronnie (8676 5142) or Jim (8676 3576). Alternatively simply visit www.midulsterwalkingclub.org.uk for full details of the Club and its activities.