Mountain Pursuit Challenge  

Connaught 2009

Benbulbin, Co. Sligo 

18th – 20th September   

MAP: Discovery Series No.16.  

Scale 1:50000, Magnetic Variation 5º (as of 2009)

Introduction

This autumn we welcome you to the area of Benbulbin which with its impressive profile has always been an eye-catching attraction in that part of the country. The range itself consists of a large, undulating plateau, which spurs off at various points to create the summits of Benbulbin, Benwiskin, Kings Mountain, Truskmore and Tievebaun. Dramatic escarpments provide wonderful views over the surrounding counties and the Atlantic. Unfortunately, a part of the range is difficult to access due to issues of access with land-owners in the area, the Gleniff valley to the north (“the horseshoe road”) in particular has borne the brunt of this.

Our route for the weekend will consist of a standing camp on the North side of the range with a day hike on Saturday up and around the plateau (availability of water on the plateau cannot be guaranteed and the access issues and steep cliffs negate any possibility of a high camp).  

If visibility is good, the route will give you a chance to see many interesting features of the area. Watch out for caves and ‘sink holes” and in particular the rocky ‘canyon’ visible just to the South East of Kings Mountain.  

In bad weather - or poor visibility due to mist - navigation on the plateau will be particularly difficult. Regardless of visibility the lack of prominent features and/or ridges on the plateau will call for careful compass work, pacing and timing and distance in order to keep on route. We would ask everyone to ensure they practise these skills in advance of the weekend itself. 

FRIDAY  

Instructions to Start (690 472) 

Follow the main Sligo to Bundoran road (N 15) to the junction at 656 472 (sign posted for Ballinatrillick). Travel in a north easterly direction along this minor road to the junction at 677 478. Turn right here and continue on to forest at 690 472. Parking is available in the forest at your own risk. Please arrive between 20:00 and 22:00, if you arrive early do not leave until you have checked out with a member of staff. 

Start to Base Camp (706 459) 

After check in, follow the road to Lukes Bridge (698 472). Cross the bridge and follow the track leading off to the right as far as the bridge at 703 468. Cross this bridge and follow the path which gradually peters out into boggy ground. The base camp is at 706 459. Make sure to check in with a member of staff before settling down for the night.

SATURDAY 

As this will be a day hike you should leave your tents in position and take what you need (ie: food and personal equipment) for the day. This should be evenly distributed among the team - it is not a good idea to bring one rucksack and pass it around.  

Base camp to bottom of stream (714 475) 

After checking out make your way along the base of the valley to the stream at 714 475. Take care when crossing this area as some parts are quite boggy. 

Bottom of stream to Spot height 508m (719 479) 

On reaching the stream, turn right and proceed to make your way up the high ground to the spot height 508. Take your time when ascending as most of your height for the day will be gained on this leg. 

Spot height 508m to Spot Height 597m (728 463) 

On reaching spot height 508m, make sure to take in the views (especially Benwhiskin to the North) and also plenty of water as this will be one of the last stops on the route to fill water bottles. From spot height 508m make your way up to spot height 597m, as you traverse this route care must be taken as there are sink holes across the plateau equally you must be mindful and careful of the steep drops/cliffs and a gully to the North of you. Visibility permitting you will have great views of both the Gleniff valley to your North, as well as part of the main plateau of Benbulbin itself.  

Spot height 597m to Glencarbury (732 455) 

On leaving spot height 597m you will observe a fence coming into view. Keeping this fence to your left you begin to make your descent to Glencarbury (732 455) care must be taken as there are areas of loose shale under foot when descending.

Glencarbury was the location of one of only two barite mines in Ireland. Barite was mined here from 1894 to 1979, with approx. 50,000 tonnes per year being extracted in the latter years of the mining operation. Barite is used as a weighing agent in paint, but in recent times as drilling mud in the oil exploration industry. There is a significant amount of the mine shafts collapsed and as a result the mines themselves are out of bounds.  

Glencarbury to Spot height 566m (721 458)  

This is open ground with no distinct features so care must be taken when navigating this leg. By practicing “contouring around” (pick a point in the distance of a similar height and walk to it) you will save on energy and also save you from additional height lost. Spot height 566m is marked by a small cairn. 

Spot height 566m to Spot height 436m (711 436) 

From spot height 566m descend to spot height 436m and again care must be taken when navigating this leg as there are no distinct features which to navigate from. Visibility permitting there are great views of the Crockauns across the Glencar valley as you descend, while at spot height 436m, you will be able to see the famous Glencar lake with its crannogs at either end, as well as the valley itself.  
 
 
 

Spot height 436m to Spot height 438m (709 439) 

Make your way across the river and onto spot height 438m. There is steep ground/drop to your West so care must be taken when traversing to spot height 438m.  

Spot Height 438m to Kings Mountain (462m) (704 442)  

There is steep ground/gully between spot height 439m and Kings Mountain so you should head in a northerly direction and cross the river at a more shallow point which will make for an easier traverse to Kings Mountain. Kings Mountain is a distinct feature and from its top makes for great viewing on a clear day. 

Kings Mountain to Spot Height 459m (703 447)  

Descend carefully the side of Kings Mountain and proceed to the spot height 459m, once again the ground has little if any distinctive features, so is an excellent opportunity, regardless of visibility to continue with your compass work including timing, distance and pacing.  

Spot height 459m to Cartonwilliamoge (701 455) 

Once again the ground between Spot Height and Cartonwilliamoge is featureless, so good navigation is essential, particularly if visibility is impaired.

Cartonwilliamoge itself is quite narrow and care must be taken as there is an escarpment/cliff to its immediate North West side. 

Cartonwilliamoge to Benbulbin (692 463)

 

You can with great care not to get to close to the edge use the escarpment/cliff as a hand rail, to proceed towards Benbulbin. On reaching the top of Benbulbin, the ground levels out so be aware at all times of where you are on the map, especially if in poor visibility.  

There is a trig point at the summit itself which is back from the cliffs giving you no sense of being on a dramatic escarpment. However, you will not be disappointed by the views from here, with good visibility you have a 360 degree panorama. To the North/North West across Donegal Bay lie the Blue Stacks and Slieve League; away to the East is Truskmore with its TV mast which the highest point in Sligo; to the South West is Knocknarea, crowned by a massive cairn (which is reputed to be the tomb containing the remains of Queen Meabh –she of the “Tain” and other exploits); to the South Lough Gill and the Curlew Mountains and northern shores of Co. Mayo. Beneath you and to the north is Streedagh Point where the Spanish Armada famously came to grief in 1592 with the loss of hundreds of lives. 

If the weather is fine and calm then you may wish to proceed to the top of the escarpment/cliffs a little further on at 697 465. You and your team must be very careful here and not go to close to the edge of the escarpment/cliff. If you or your team take the option to go to the top of the escarpment/cliff, you must check in with staff in the area when you return from the cliff and before proceeding back towards Cartonwilliamoge.

  
 
 

Benbulbin to Cartonwilliamoge (701 455)  

Retrace your steps from Benbulbin to Cartonwilliamoge, you can with great care not to get to close to the edge use the escarpment/cliff to your North East as a hand rail, to proceed towards Cartonwilliamoge.

 

Cartonwilliamoge to Top of Stream (706 454) 

From Cartonwilliamoge and continuing to keep the escarpment/cliff on your left hand side make your way around the top of the stream. 

Top of Stream to Camp (706 459) 

Care must be taken when making the descent to camp as the ground under foot might be slippery. When you arrive at camp be sure to check in with a member of staff.  

SUNDAY 

Camp to Finish (690 472)

 
On breaking camp pack all your gear and ensure that your site(s) are clean and completely litter free, only leave when your site(s) have been inspected and you have been checked out by a member of staff. Remember that all litter must be taken away.  

Our route out is along the same route that we took in on the Friday night. Be sure to check in with a member of staff when you get back to the finish.  

Well done on completing the Connaught MPC 2009. 

Don’t forget to get a MPC T-shirt or polo shirt (stocks and sizes permitting!)

 

If you are heading back into Sligo on your return home you will pass the Church at Drumcliff where the famous poet and Nobel Laureate W.B. Yeats is buried. Many other attractions are to be found in the area including surfing at Strandhill (if you have any energy left!) 
 

Safe home to all.  
 

Hoping to see you all at the Ulster MPC in October.