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The Climbing Club • View topic - Glenveagh National Park and Errigal - Donegal County

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:30 pm 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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As a number of you are probably aware, Michelle and I are currently in Ireland, taking a few days of vacation on the back end of a business trip to see the northwest corner of Ireland. We decided to get off the beaten track which is good, because we don't actually see too many Americans, but also means finding good food can be a bit rough.

Our day started out with a large (but not Sultan Bakery large) breakfast cooked by our host in Dungloe. She also gave us directions to a good grocer, but we misunderstood her and were shortly barreling out of town and into the country-side, with no food. When we rented our car, we sprung for a GPS (for reasons I will not go into, is known to us a Nunu). Michelle turned Nunu on, who promptly discovered we were headed in the wrong direction to reach Glenveagh National Park and instructed us to promptly "Turn Right". Over the next several minutes, we drove a series of one-lane tertiary roads (think FS road, but narrower) including a stretch that appeared to pass through one family's yard, before emerging on the N56. As a side note, driving in Ireland is not particularly difficult (once one adjust to being on the other side of the road), but *nothing* is signed and maps are useless. The GPS has an absurd day rate, but you'll never get out from Dublin airport without it.

Fortunately, we were able to reach the National Park without further shenanigans. Coming off-season, as we are, there were relatively few other people around and we enjoyed a quiet, sunny walk from the visitor center to the Castle. This is not, however, an authentic medieval castle, but rather the product of a wealthy eccentric, who bought the entire property which now comprises the National Park around 1860, kicked off the tenant farmers, built himself a large castle, and introduced a herd of red deer. More than a century on, one gets the impression he's still not thought of kindly by the locals. We toured the gardens (which looked very much like the Arboretum) before taking a path up to a view point. Because our plans to climb the 67 Steps to the point were thwarted (closed for years after one too many falls down the slippery, steep stairway) and the view point was only 2/3 of the way to the top of the hill, we went off trail through heather and grass to the summit. Along the way, we discovered that irish soil has an astonishing tendency to hold water on the surface, rather than absorbing it. It's as if all the peat bogs have decided that water is all well and good, but what they really want is a pint of Guiness, thank you very much. This makes for challenging cross-country travel, as one unexpectedly encounters standing water on moderately sloped terrain. The views from the top were almost as good as the block of cheddar we'd procured for lunch (at a grocer in a town with an utterly unpronounceable name), but a stiff wind sent us back down to the Castle. After a poking around for a bit, we opted not to take the guided tour and took one final swing through the gardens before heading back to the visitor center. Interesting note: Glenveagh National Park is in the process of eradicating the Rhododendrons introduced by the original owner's wife. They are lovely to look at, but invasive as hell in Ireland (think English Ivy) and will spread like mad when unchecked.

After returning to our car, we drove back down the road towards Dungloe, but pulled over near Errigal, a peak that I'd decided might warrant a little attention. While only 1700' of vert, the peak dominates over the peaty countryside. We'd read that the first bit of the trail is a little boggy. This is like calling an exit from the Pickets via Luna Creek a little brushy. The lower fan of Errigal is a bog filled with muddy footprints. In proper boots and gaiters, this would have been a piece of cake, but in trail runners, it was a bit more of a challenge. Fortunately, we made it up to the upper slopes where rocks provided easier walking, but were accompanied by a stiff wind. The trail wound its way up the ridge, with ever improving views of the Atlantic Ocean and Derryveagh Mountains, before concluding on two summits of near-equal height. The peak reminded me of hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, not much gain, but you really work for it. After a short break, we headed down and reached the car just as it started to lightly rain (not bad, considering the forecast called for showers all day).

Easy drive back to Dungloe and a hot shower. Neither Glenveagh or Errigal are worth coming across the Atlantic for on their own, but the area is beautiful and both are well-worth checking out if you happen to find yourself in the area.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:07 pm 
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Dr. Crevasse
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Glad to hear you're enjoying a little well deserved R&R. Sounds like a fun day out.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:20 am 
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Mountain Rhombus
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Sweet...I hope you took pictures!

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:38 am 
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Longshanks
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:08 pm 
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UW Climber
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Location: Edmonds WA
Yeah, that was a good read.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:43 am 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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Location: Bashing Brush
A few from the day.

Michelle on the summit
Image

The view to the northeast
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