Mountain Pursuit Challenge
Maumturk Mountains, Co. Galway
21/22/23 September 2007
MAP: OSi Discovery Series 37, Scale 1:50000 , Magnetic Variation 6º
The Maumturk Mountains frame the Western side of Lough Inagh, running in a line from South East to North West. To the north they look onto Killary harbour and to the south are the flatlands of southern Connemara with thousands of filigree lakes. Like the Twelve Bens across the valley, they are made of Schist and Quartzite: gritty white rocks that are sharp to the touch. There are also patches of marble on the upper slopes.
Much more so than previous MPC locations, the mountains themselves are very steep and rocky, and rise quite suddenly from the valley floors. The proposed route may look small on the map, but the complexity of the terrain will challenge your patrol: In bad visibility, it is extremely important to follow your compass bearings precisely – a wrong turn could easily lead in the direction of sheer cliffs. Due to the terrain, the proposed route consists of a standing camp at a deserted settlement with a day-pack hike on Saturday.
For the Saturday hike, each member of your team should have their own bag on their back and not one team bag which is shared around throughout the day. Also, each team will be required to bring one sleeping bag with them on Saturday’s route for emergencies. A storm shelter will be useful if the weather is bad.
You may find it helpful to enlarge a portion of the map in order to see the detail of the contours better, but be sure to always bring the original map with you, photocopies can sometimes be slightly warped which can throw your compass bearing askew! (In addition to the OS map, Harvey produce a more detailled map of Connemara which may be useful but note the 1:30000 scale and 15 m contours.)
DIRECTIONS & CHECK-IN
Driving from Galway, take the N59 towards Clifden. 1 km beyond the petrol station in Recess, take the right turn with a clutter of signposts following directions for Letterfrack and the Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel. Take this road (the R344) northwards until you reach the left hand side carpark at L 846 535 (not marked on the map), just before the Hotel. Please park carefully as instructed by staff because space is limited. Late arrivals will park at the smaller right hand side carpark at L 848 533.
Check-in will be open from 8.30pm until 11.30pm. If you will be arriving late please text 087 6866350 or 087 9387439 stating clearly your group name and your expected time of arrival. Late teams will have to make their own way to base camp – be sure to check-in with staff on arrival or in the morning!
FRIDAY 21 September 2007
After checking in, take the small tarmac road to the bend at L 859 534. Pick up the track heading northwest (following the Western Way). Follow the track to a deserted village at L 843 557. The track is difficult to find in places so keep an eye on the ground around you. We hope to have this route marked out with flashers on the night.
SATURDAY 22 September 2007
Base Camp (L 843 557) to Stream (L 842 567)
Follow the rough track to the stream.
Stream (L 842 567) to Col (L 858 564)
Follow the banks of the stream uphill to the col at the head of the valley, just before the antiquitity of the Holy Well. Take your time as it is a long climb, with a steep finish.
Col (L 858 564) to Knoll (L 856 562)
Head uphill to reach a long slender knoll with a rocky top. This section is quite steep so keep together as a team and plan your route around the rocks before you head off. For the upper section of the route, the ground is almost entirely rock which can be slippy when wet so please take care.
Knoll (L 856 562) to Letterbreckaun North-East Top (L 862 554)
This is a long section and will be tricky in bad visibility. From the knoll head south-westwards for 100m to the small boggy col and then take a bearing to the small peak at L 862 554. Try to keep to the top of the ridge to maintain on track. (You may have to drop slightly to the left or right on occasions to avoid a rocky outcrop.) There is a small cairn on the top.
Letterbreckaun North-East Top (L 862 554) to Letterbreckaun 667 (L 856 551)
Take a new bearing to the largest of the tiny lakes on the summit plateau of Letterbreckaun (a useful attack point). This allows you to follow the ridge and avoid losing height. The ground drops sharply to a tiny col with a lakelet and then rises quickly again to Letterbreckaun. Once again the ground is difficult and steep – move around the rocky outcrops as you need to but watch your compass bearings closely! From the lake take a new bearing to the summit of Letterbreckaun which is marked by a large cairn. The summit plateau itself is a mess of rocky undulations so once again careful compasswork is needed.
Letterbreckaun 667 (L 856 551) to start of ridge (L 860 550)
If the weather is fine, the summit of Letterbreckaun (the second highest in the Maumturks) boasts superb views. See how many of the Twelve Bens you can identify across the valley. When you are ready to leave take a bearing to L 860 550 – a cairn which marks the start of the ridge heading to Barrlugrevagh.
Start of ridge (L 860 550) to Barrlugrevagh (L 865 548)
Follow the ridge to the small rocky lump of Barrlugrevagh. Watch the ground and your map closely. Do not descend off the ridge until you meet the checkpoint.
Barrlugrevagh (L 865 548) to Coum (L 869 543)
Drop down to the tiny lake of Loughaunnagrevagh, move around its south-western edge and follow the tiny streams down into the coum or hanging valley.
Coum (L 869 543) to Track (L 858 535) to Base Camp (L 843 557)
Follow the right hand bank of the stream downhill to the track at L 858 535. You should swing out slightly to the right (about 50m from the stream) to avoid some steep cascades. Once on the track follow it north-west to Base Camp. Check in and get the dinner on.
SUNDAY 23 September 2007
Have a staff member check your campsite for litter before you leave. Retrace Friday’s route to the cars. MPC T-Shirts will be available at the finish. Hope you enjoyed your adventure and we look forward to seeing you at the Ulster event in October!