Lough Altan – Mackoght
21st November 2021
There were twelve walkers today. Setting out from Errigal carpark on a dry fresh day. The northerly wind encouraged us to walk briskly up the R251 road for 1.5 km to the track leading to Lough Altan. The track, now much eroded and boggy was built to serve Altan Farm. The Altan Farm building is a castle like structure, and is now derelict and dangerously crumbling. Built mid-1800s the history of the farm and construction are obscure. The building is at the south end of the Lough and from it there are fine views. To the west the steep vertical cliffs of Beaghy. To the north west the expanse of the Lough some 3.5km long and to the north east the steeply rising ground of Aghla More and today bathed in warm winter sunshine. Lough Altan now serves as a water source for Prockliss Fish farm (MOWI)
We had our lunch on the Lough’s shore, a sandy beach stretching the length of the south end. From there we went along the west side to a gully formed by a stream issuing from Lough Nabehy. The gully was tough going, steep with slippery rocks and too much water. We aborted the attempt at its traverse and climbed with some difficulty up the side. We had hoped to see unusual flora within the confines of the gully but none observed. The rest of the walk was very pleasant continuing to L. Nabehy and L. Nabrackbaddy on the north side of Mackoght. We noted an intrusion of basaltic type rock cutting through the quartzite of Mackoght, something to be investigated another day. Four members extended the walk and went up Mackoght from the north side, the rest continued to the col below Errigal and down to the cars by 4.15pm a 4.5-hour walk. We retired to Roarty’s café in Dunlewy for coffee.
14th November 2021
A dry, mild but misty day. The tops of the Knockalla ridge were mist covered with occasional breaks giving views of Mulroy Bay to the west and Lough Swilly to the east. The Knockalla ridge runs in an approximately N.E. / S.W. direction. We think the rock is quartzite and this geological structure extends to the Urris Hills in Inishowen. Lough Swilly divides the two having been carved through during the last glaciation.
There were twelve out today. We commenced the walk from the gravel pit near Kerrykeel at the south end. There is a wet muddy track leading onto the hills. Our route was N.E. along the crest. The views were mostly obscured during the morning. We had lunch beside the Knockalla Loughs. These loughs always appear very dark, evidence of the peaty water that feeds them. Half the party returned at this stage going down a bog track to Glenvar and to the cars via the road. The rest continued to the track that serves the Stations of the Cross at Lurganbrack but returning along the west side at the base of the ridge to the loughs and down as the others had done.
We saw a small flock of golden plover flying overhead and also two grouse. We see grouse quite regularly, a sign perhaps of increasing numbers. We looked in vain for the feral herd of goats that wander around the northern end of Knockalla. The mist cleared gradually during the afternoon so we had fine views of Mulroy Bay and the Narrows (spanned by the Harry Blaney bridge) to the north west.
The cars were gained by 4.15 a 4.5hour walk.
Adderwal Glen, Gubbin Hill (Doocharry – Fintown)
7th November 2021
The walk through Adderwal Glen is a popular outing and twelve members turned out. The weather as forecast was calm and dry with periods of warm sunshine.
We met in Fintown and car pooled (Covid mindful) to the start near Doocharry. There are no serious or difficult ascents on this walk, most is on a wet boggy track. The first part passes deciduous woodland. During early summer this is a good area to spot the rare holly blue butterfly. Further along there is a coniferous plantation. We passed over the Abroe River via a concrete bridge then passed Loughs Leck, Currin, Fad and Ahassan. We expected to see wild fowl here as this area is part of Meenachullion nature reserve, but we were disappointed. We did see mallard duck on Lough Namona. The rock here is granite, with outcrops appearing through the peat. There was a splash of colour, a gorse bush in full bloom, the yellow flowers striking against the dull winter palette.
We speculated this area was once quite wealthy, dotted along the track are derelict houses, and wall steads, all well built with several rooms and out houses. Two of the houses are still roofed with the contents left as if still in use. Even the field walls are substantial. We noted two well-built lime kilns.
Leaving the track, we headed up to Gubbin Hill at 271m, via the way marked path. The views from this high point to the north are Slieve Snaght, south Aglas and Scaigs and north west in the distance Aranmore Island. On the descent we saw three red deer and four grouse. Our path led us to the R250 road on the outskirts of Fintown, returning to the cars by 4.20pm a 4.5hour walk.
31st October 2021
What was forecast to be a fairly wet day, turned out to be sunny, with little wind, and great views. We decided to walk over to the north side of Crummie’s Bay, from where some continued to follow the coast and others chose to take a line between the coast and the gradually rising main ridge, to the north-east. Scrambling over and around rocky outcrops we arrived just above the first (of two) lakes, a good place to stop for lunch. Having being joined by the other party, we continued steeply, up towards the main ridge and then on to the highest point at 417m.
From here we turned to follow the ridge path back to Dunree beach and the carpark.
Walking westwards on this ridge, on a bright sunny day, must be one of the best mountain views in the whole of Donegal.
Aghla Scraigs (Fintown)
24th October 2021
Eleven were on the walk today. Six ventured up Aghla Mountain, 593m, a very steep climb from the starting point by the GAA grounds. A dry day with a S.W. wind, gusting strongly at times clearing the mist to give fine views of Fintown and Lough Finn to the N.E. and the coast to the west. This group split, three continuing to Scraigs, 428m, a craggy mountain due south of Fintown, returning via the track. The other three came down between Aghla and Scaigs visited the waterfall then returned to the cars.
The other five took the track parallel to Lough Finn venturing onto the hill at the base of Aghla, visited the waterfall, a secret place! (The vertical falls are some 15m high on an unnamed stream) from there to the crags overlooking Lough Muck, a fine lake and drinking water source. This group also returned via the track.
On the walk a small bird of prey was seen, falcon like, so probably a merlin. Also, a covey of about 10 grouse. This is the second large covey seen this year, an encouraging sign that numbers are increasing.
On the way to the start of the walk a white tailed eagle was spotted flying over Fintown, there was some excitement trying to get a photo but it was too far away.
A good day’s walking of 3.5hours and 4.5 hours with very little rain and the wind on our backs as we walked from Aghla towards Scraigs.
22nd October 2021
There was a sad farewell to stalwart members Helen and Geoff who are retiring to Wales, who have been with the club for more than twenty years. We had a lovely lunch in the double decker bus Pyke ‘N’ Pommes situated on the quay in Derry. Helen and Geoff were presented with a stunning framed photo of Five Finger Strand, Inishowen. Photographer, our own Tony K. We then adjourned to The Cottage café for coffee and cake.
Geoff is a very experienced climber and Helen, a past club chairperson, is second to none when tramping across the hills. We will miss them and wish them the best of luck and happy life in their new home.
Margaret & Alan’s recent trip to Scotland (October 2021)
Our Trip to Scotland
A good way to start? On our first day we climbed Ben Nevis (1,344m, just to remind you) with our grandson, who really should have been at school . . .
While taking it easy the next day, we went to support some of our other offspring who were running in the Glencoe Marathon (this was their version of a warm-up for the mountains).
Before moving on further up the country, we chose to do what we thought was a reasonable ridge walk to an isolated Corbet behind Beinn a’ Bheithir, but discovered the approach was not cyclable, the hill sides densely forested and the multiple intervening tops extremely tedious. The day became so wet, there was no possibility of a photo at the top . . .
After a speedy escape to the more northern realms of Torridan, and getting better weather, we climbed a gem of a hill called Sgurr Dubh, facing the towering ramparts of Beinn Eighe.
We had based ourselves in Gairloch, some way out from the mountains we wanted to climb, but such a lovely location. The campsite was close to the pier so morning dipping was a must; the Mountain Coffee café/bookshop was close by and its doors were always open; the supermarket stocked everything even gluten free products; there is a fragrant Buddhist emporium and a master butcher dealing in venison, 5star haggis, and various other Highland gastric delights.
We had bikes and kayaks with us, and we took rest days when it rained, which was fairly often. Leaving Inverness, (after visiting relatives) our next venture was to cycle 16k through Glen Mor to climb the remote mountain Carn Ban. We parked at Calvie Lodge (near the infamous Allendale Estate where wild bears, wolves and boars be roaming), and set off the first afternoon up the nearby Cam Chuinneag, courtesy of a stalkers path all the way to the top. Back to business early the following morning, cycling the reasonably good estate track in good time, dodging the potholes and highland cattle with aplomb. We left the bikes at the top of the last big downhill and turned our sights to the back of this massive hill, nothing craggy about it but there was a lot of it. We arrived at the top, eventually, as you do. To be rewarded with tremendous views, all round, (it wasn’t raining). Next to us rose the fabulous profile of Seana Braigh considered one of the most beautiful and remote of all the Munros. Having failed to get out to Skye due to Ferry timetable disruptions (several boats being out of service), our last big day was back down the country again at Glenfinnan. There are two Corbetts, close together here, which is quite unusual. Climbing in the drizzle again, having to navigate awkward crags, and endless ‘false tops’ we eventually made it to the top of Beinn Odhar Beag (Beinn Odhar Mhor which comes first, is not unfortunately the highest) and the measly summit cairn which marks it. I won’t say anything about the big drop and then rise to the other Corbett, suffice it to say it is called Beinn Mhic Cedidh. Due to railway tracks and puffing trains below, our descent from there took us part-way down the glen, then up again to cross a col on the main ridge, to complete the circuit and arrive exhausted at our car park. And the end of our trip!
Alternative to planned walk: Head of the glen to Glenveagh Castle
17th October 2021
Unfortunately, there was thick mist and heavy rain with no appearance of clearing. Though some members wanted to brave the elements it was decided to abandon the walk and drive the few kilometres to the head of Glenveagh glen and walk to the castle.
The lower we went down the valley so the weather improved with even a few moments of sunshine. The glen affords spectacular views and we were not disappointed. The autumn colours of the leaves and heather, the castle looming out of the mist above the trees was magical and mystical.
We had coffee and lunch in the castle courtyard followed by a quick walk around the walled garden. We returned by the same way. The highlight being the sighting of an eagle, high up, gliding north to south to disappear into the mist. No deer sighted.
We noticed the higher areas were still misted and it was still raining so perhaps we made the correct decision.
Walk time about 4.5hours
Irish Peaks Book wins Banff Mountain Book Award
21st October 2021
Congratulations to long standing members of NWMC Margaret and Alan Tees as team leaders in the compilation and publication of Irish Peaks: A Celebration of Ireland’s Highest Mountains, published by Mountaineering Ireland. This publication has won the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Competition, guide book section. ‘’A wonderful showcase of the rugged beauty of the island of Ireland’s upland landscape, Irish Peaks made me want to head for those hills’’ Heather Dawe, 2021 book competition jury.
The book describes 101 of the highest peaks in Ireland. The route guides are aided by fabulous photos. It can be used as a first port of call if attempting any of the walks or as an interesting coffee table book to browse at leisure.
Well done again Alan and Margaret.
The book can be purchased online and direct from selected retailers, for more information visit https://www.mountaineering.ie/irishpeaksbook/
Walk from Portballintrae to Dunseverick and return
Sunday October 3rd 2021
Though a long drive the Causeway Coast is a favourite for the club. Twelve members met at Portballintrae carpark. The forecast was for thundery showers, they duly swept through all day on a brisk and sometimes very strong N.W. wind but luckily missing us.
The walk commenced along Bushfoot Strand, the sea crashing on to the sandy beach, the sea was coloured by the peat laden water from the Bush River. From the beach we made our way up to Runkerry Point and on to the Giants Causeway. (the Causeway is one of the top attractions in N.I. and can be mobbed at times) The black basaltic hexagonal columns forming the causeway and the vertical cliffs are impressive. They have spectacular names such as the Giants Chair, The Organ, Hawk’s Hollow and The Amphitheatre.
From the cliff top through the sea haze Malin and the Inishowen Peninsula, Co Donegal could be seen to the west. To the north Islay, Scotland and to the east Rathlin Island and the spectacular shear cliff of Fairhead. Further to the east lay Kintyre. Out to sea gannets were giving their aerial displays, effortlessly gliding through the wind then suddenly diving for fish. Jackdaws were our companions along the cliff tops.
The path is of gravel with stone steps on the steep inclines, well maintained by the National Trust. The path continues around Benbane Head, Bengore Head and Contham Head down to Dunsverick. Some members took the bus (departs hourly) back to Portballintrae. The rest returned via the path arriving at the cars at 4.15. A 4.5hr walk.
Sunday 26th September 2021 We try to have a mix of walks hill, mountain and coastal. Coastal walks are generally easier without much climbing. These are ideal for people who want to see if walking with the NWMC is what they want. Without doubt Donegal’s coast is stunning with long golden beaches, rugged rocky outcrops,Continue reading “Coastal walk: Trá na Rosann beach to Melmore”
We parked overlooking Lough Eske on the track that circuits Banagher Hill. The forecast was good but heavy showers commenced shortly after leaving the cars. As is usual for the NWMC the group split with two members doing a shorter walk to Banagher hill. The main party of seven walked eastwards towards Lough Belshade. OnContinue reading “Walk to the Lough Belshade and Eglish area of the Blue Stack Mountains 19th September 2021”
Seamus Doohan is now the NWMC VTO.
We had a lovely walk in the hills coordinated by Dennis Golden, starting near the waterfall at Maghery outside Ardara and finishing a few kilometres down the road from the waterfall – a good hill-walk after the NWMC AGM in Highlands Hotel Glenties. Report – James Finnegan
The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are: Plan Ahead and Prepare Be Considerate of Others Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife Travel and Camp on Durable Ground Leave What You Find Dispose of Waste Properly Minimise the Effects of Fire For more information see the website: www.leavenotraceireland.org
Bluestacks Horseshoe – Glascarn Hill to Lavagh More – very sunny, blue skies and streaks of snow on some tops – great day. Thirteen walkers – three eventually finishing over Lavagh More – Helen O, Livinia F, and James F – walk led by James F.
Walk in the Aghlas was led by James Finnegan who disappeared after Crocknalaragagh. All fifteen walkers made it back safely on a windy day and in daylight. James is the only person who did Aghla More on the day but there was no prize given for that. Some say he is lucky to be alive.
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