April 9th to 11th
Venue: The Knockmealdowns , Co. Waterford
Map: Discovery Series 1:50000, No. 74
This range of mountains was formed about 300 million years ago. The final shaping took place much more recently during the last Ice Age, which started 1 million years ago and ended 10000 years ago. The tops of the mountains were too high to be covered by the ice sheets which covered the lowlands, but they had their own glaciers which carved out corries. However, the evidence of glaciation is not as spectacular as in the nearby Commeragh Mountains. Mostly, the range is covered in heathery peat. The protruding rocks, where they are to be seen, are of the Old Red Sandstone family, particularly conglomerate on Knockmealdown Mountain itself.
The range is cut in two by the Vee Gap, through which the Clogheen to Lismore and Cappoquin road passes. It is a favourite spot for sightseers, and numerous carparks are provided. The mountains to the east of the Vee are very popular with hillwalkers whose boots have left their mark in the form of very obvious paths. Sometimes, these paths will make your navigation easy, but be careful as they will not always lead to where we want you to go.
There are six peaks over 2000 feet (610m), and during the weekend, you will visit all of them.
Friday Night: Car Park to Base Camp
Check in at the Carpark at the top of the Vee Gap (Grid ref. S 030100). There
are numerous carparks, so be sure to locate the correct one.
Follow the route of the Avondhu Way from the carpark, past a small oratory, along a series of rough tracks and by the edge of some woodland to the track junction at 029091, where the Avondhu Way turns West.
Continue downhill to the campsite at 029088. Check in, find a suitable site and set up camp.
Saturday: Base Camp to High Camp
This morning, at 8.45am, there will be a short briefing meeting for all leaders accompanying teams. This has not been done before, but we feel that it will be useful.
Base Camp (029088) to Knockshanahullion (999104)
From Base Camp at 029088, climb back up to the Avondhu Way at 029091.
Follow the Way, which in this area is clearly signposted, to the track junction at 020090. Use the styles where provided, rather than opening gates or climbing fences.
At the junction at 020090, continue to follow the Way, along roads that are not marked on the map, to the forest corner at 006095. On the way, you will see areas of new forest not marked on the map. Along this section, streams crossing under the road from the right can be used to refill water bottles as there will not be other opportunities for the next two hours.
From the forest corner at 006095, follow the route of the Way uphill to Knockclugga at R 999097. This section of the Avondhu Way is across open hillside. Do not rely entirely on being able to follow either the marker posts or multiplicity of muddy tracks if the visibility is poor.
Before the Way starts to descend downhill to the West along a more substantial vehicle track, leave it and make your way along the wide peaty ridge to the cairn and triangulation pillar on the summit of Knochshanahullion (999104). From here, if the visibility is good, you will see your route across the Knockmealdowns stretched out ahead of you, over Spot Height 630 in the foreground, Sugar Loaf behind it, and Knockmealdown behind and above the lot.
Knochshanahullion (999104) to the Vee (030100)
From Knockshanahullion (999104), carefully following a bearing, head down to
Spot Height 551 (008101). Now, follow the broad ridge all the way to Spot Height
630 (020100), which is the second of the +2000ft peaks that you will visit.
From the summit, head directly down to the Vee carpark at 030100. The terrain is rough and steep in places, so take your time. At first follow a wire fence. After the next fence corner, a broken down stone wall to the south heading down to the Vee makes a convenient feature to follow. Do not drift too far north onto the very steep ground overlooking Bay Lough.
Stop for lunch at the carpark. Nearby, Bay Lough is a good place to refill your water bottles.
The Vee (030100) to High Camp (065087)
Leave the car park at 030100, and follow the obvious track uphill. The climb
looks intimidating, but it?s not as bad as it seems and in no time you will
be on the summit of Sugar Loaf (040105). Take a break to admire the views to
the north and south.
Continue on down to the col at 043098.
The route now leads on uphill to Knockmealdown (058084). Stop here to enjoy the views. You might be able to see Mount Melleray, where the MPC will be finishing up on Sunday afternoon.
From the summit, follow the east ridge down to Spot Height 554 (067083). If visibility is poor, take care not to drift onto the steep ground to the north.
From the spot height, you can make your way down to High Camp near the two little lakes at 064086.
There is actually no room to camp beside the lakes themselves. There is plenty of space a little further down at 065087 and 066087, but you will have to search around a bit. There is more camping space further up the corrie above the lakes for those who want to be away from the crowds.
Check in, find a site and set up camp.
Sunday: High Camp to Mount Melleray
High Camp (065087) to Knocknafallia (Spot Height 668 at 090076)
From High Camp, climb up to the col at 070082.
Now, proceed to the summit of Knocknagnauv (081083). Continue to follow the stone wall to the wall corner at 085086 .
Head for the col at 086080. In bad visibility, you may follow the remains of the wall down hill to a wall / earthbank junction at 086081. Take care not to follow the wall too far as it contours around the north side of Knocknafallia.
From the col at 086080, climb up to the summit of Knocknafallia (090076), the last of the six +2000ft peaks on the route. The actual summit at Spot Height 668 is indistinct, and the large cairn at 094075 is much more noticeable.
Knockafallia Spot Height 668 (090076) to the corner of a young wood at 088063.
From Spot Height 668, take a bearing to the corner of the wood marked on the
map at 087061. There is an indistinct spur running down in this direction, but
don?t expect to be able to follow it in poor visibility. As the gradient of
the slope eases out, you will come to the corner of a new plantation at 088063.
This new plantation is not marked on the map.
The spur at Knockboy has been completely planted in recent years with new woods. The current edition of Sheet 74 does not show this new plantation or the tracks associated with it. An enlarged section of the relevant area of the map is enclosed, with the new tracks sketched in. Please refer to it when following the remainder of the route outline.
The trees shown in the original Sheet 74 are obviously more mature than those in the new plantation, and as such stand out quite easily.
Corner of the young wood (088063) to forest gate (087055)
Follow the track running south along the plantations eastern edge for a short
distance to the corner of the mature wood at 087061. Cross a stile on the fence
so that you are between the wood and a north-south perimeter fence. Continue
south along the edge of the wood, crossing over some fallen trees, until you
meet a major east-west forest road with a gate at 087055.
Forest Gate (087055) to cottage (097047)
Pass through the gate and follow the road east to the crossroads at 090054.
Turn right, and continue on, ignoring two tracks, first from the left and then
from the right, before you come to a more mature wood at 093050. Continue, as
the track runs parallel to the northern edge of this wood. Just before you reach
the eastern end of these taller trees, a path leads through to a cottage at
Cottage (097047) to Mt. Melleray Scout Centre (104036)
From the cottage, follow a farm road, which is a track at first, south to the back of the monastery?s farm buildings, where it turns left and then right before opening onto the main monastery road. Watching out for traffic, turn left and head down to the finish at Mt. Melleray Scout Centre (104036).