Friday, 1 January 2010

Off to a Good Start

I managed to get 2010 off to a good start having failed to get out over Christmas. I'm a slow starter in the morning so unless I make a definite plan I tend to get up with little enthusiasm for the great ideas from the previous night. In an attempt to actually get out, and on the off chance of maybe an overnight camp I asked Marcus if he'd like to go for a hike or camp on New Years day, he agreed to a hike which was fine but I hadn't decided were to go at that stage.

I decide that the best roads would take us to Glenariff so the obvious choice was to walk up past the forest to Trostan which would provide the best views of the Glens of Antrim and across to Scotland, the Mull of Kintyre and beyond easily visible less then 15 miles away and to the north, the islands of Islay and Jura.

I didn't pack a daysack until this morning but gathered a few items together and loaded up a 20L Alpkit Stealthy Goudron, with my meths burner/Heinie pot set up and some instant soup and pasta pinched from one of my 1 Day foodpacks. I wanted to wear gaiters so choose to wear a pair of AKU Croda boots and Trekmates stretch Gore-Tex gaiters. A set of Trekmates Bamboo baselayer, North Cape Rhovyl zip neck, ME Ultrafleece jacket and ME Combin trousers with a Montane Jetstream windshirt and woolly hat saw me ready to roll.

We made it up to the roadside lay-by at 12.30 to find that quite a few others had similar plans and we ended up parking at the entrance to the camp site which was closed anyway.

It was pretty cold but once we set off along the first of the forest trails I was almost too warm and had to open my jacket and shirt zipper, conducting a conversation was a struggle as I usually need 30mins to get into my stride. It didn't take long before we crossed a road and headed into the forest that flanks the southern slopes of Trostan and it's next door neighbour Slievenanee. It was easier at this stage to stay off the trail and walk through the trees where there was less snow until we reached Essathohan waterfall. Once at the waterfall we left the waymarked trail and set off eastwards along a fire break to reach the open hill. I had taken a turn at the front to break trail when I found a £10 note lying on the snow, I guess someone pulled it out of their pocket but we didn't see anyone so I accepted my good fortune and stuffed it into my pocket, as it happens I'd been searching the internet a few days ago to see if the brand, North Cape still existed, what I found was a shop called Daleswear selling Rhovyl/Modal zip neck thermal tops exactly like the one I use which was bought about....... lets just say a long time ago, I ordered 2 as they were selling at? yes £5 each so I guess finding £10 was my reward for getting out on the hill.

The Distant Peaks of Scotland, Goat Fell?

As we reached the edge of the forest I could see sharp peaks in the distance, obviously Scotland, initially I thought Goat Fell on Arran but they could have been further on to-wards Loch Lomond, I'll need to check that one on the map. The strange thing is that they looked closer than any I saw later which makes me unsure just which ones they were. I suspect as we gained height they were no longer as distinct as they blended into the land mass behind.

Rather than take the normal route to the top which is really part of the Moyle Way we swung of to our right (East)as this provides better views of Glenariff, Glenemon (marked on the Map as Glenballyemon but I've always known the glen as Glenemon and the hill separating Glenemon and Glenariff as Ballyemon) and Glendun, the 3 midway Glens of the 9 Glens of Antrim and across the north channel to Ayrshire, the Galloway Hills (East and ES East), the Mull of Kintyre (EN East) and beyond to the North the southern most islands of the Inner Hebrides with the Paps of Jura being the most recognisable. The snow was pretty firm in places, especially where it had been blown into gullies and as we gained a little height the walking was pleasant.

Glenemon with Ballyemon/Lurigethan on the Right.

Glendun to the left, The Mull of Kintyre in the Distance

Looking North, Tievebulliagh (Outcrop Right), In the Distance the Paps of Jura.

Once we reached the level area to the right of the main bulk of Trostan the views were remarkable, the way the wind had sculpted the snow made it look almost like the Antarctic (with a bit of imagination) and it reminded me of the book I read as a boy that 1st got me interested in the outdoors, the book was as far as I remember 'Shackleton's Epic Voyage'

Trig Point on Trostan

West to the Sperrins

South West, Lough Neagh just Visible.

Once up on the lower top it was pretty cold due to a stiff breeze so we turned west and walked up to the summit plateau and on to the triangulation pillar. Of course there were footprints everywhere, the 1st we'd seen apart from some animal tracks since we'd left the waymarked trail. There would have been almost 2 weeks worth of footprints as most of the snow fell on the Sunday before Christmas but we stopped anyway while I took a few photographs and pulled on my windshirt and by the time we set off my hands were numb in spite of only having had my gloves off long enough to fit a filter holder to the camera.

We started off down by the normal route following the footsteps left by others but quickly move off the tracks and made our way down long shallow gullies between the peat hags which having been filled with wind blown snow were firm enough to walk on without breaking through. As we reached the edge of the forest I decided to make for the place I'd bivvied in 08 with Ralph.

It was pretty rough at first as being a commercial forest the trees are too close together but we soon found the stream and followed it to my previous camp spot, easily recognised by a branch I'd cut to support a hanging stove.

We were both using EK meths burners but I was using the Heine pot again while Marcus used a Mitymug. I simply made a cup pasta and followed it with a cuppa soup and we packed up and continued through the trees following the stream until we picked up the forest trail again at Essathohan waterfall.

Which Way Now?

By the time we were back in the open the sky had turned an amazing shade of red but even though I tried every setting on the camera I couldn't capture it, I guess you just have to see it.

We followed the well walked trail back to the car and the closer we got to the main road the icier the path became thanks mainly to the amount of people who would walk on this section not too far from their car. Where I'd parked was really icy, in fact I nearly lost my footing twice getting my pack off and gear into the car, Marcus mentioned that it would be unfortunate to break an arm getting into the car after being up on the hill.

As always it was great to get out, I've been unable to get anything done, there's things to do and gear to sort but I just couldn't get into it but today was worth it, an overnight camp would have been better but I've a few spots lined up for again.



  1. Excellent write up and pics.

  2. Not a bad start to the new year. :)

    Haven't been out-out yet, but am planning a mission to Glencoe with the camera and will be signing up with the local mountaineering club once this, 'wrong type' of snow passes, don't fancy getting avalanched...

  3. Great day out and perfect weather. Good to see someone is out enjoying it!

  4. You cant beat a day in the snow to blow away the cobwebs. Amazing that you could see the paps of Jura!

  5. Islay and Jura are maybe 50 miles away at that point, maybe a bit less. On a clear evening from the North Coast you can just make out the American Red Cross monument on the Mull of Oa (Islay) if you know where to look.

  6. Beautiful photos, Richard! The Sunset is spectacular, as are the mountain photos.

    Taking off the gloves in cold temperatures can really freeze your hands in seconds. I was out walking last weekend when we had -20°C and snapped a photo. In that short while my hands were nearly blue!