Ulster 1998 - Bluestacks

Bluestacks Co. Donegal

Map: Ordnance Survey Sheet 11. 1:50000

Friday 16th October 1998

To get to the start
From Donegal town take the N56 exit for the Glenties. As you drive out of town, on your right hand side there is a signpost for Letterbarrow (known as Letterbarra on the map). This is opposite a petrol station. Take the turn to the right and drive along for several kilometres until you come to the first cross-roads. Take the right turn and the immediate left turn after this. Follow this road until it ends at a T junction. Turn left at the T-Junction following the sign for the Bluestacks drive. When this road turns after a switchback there is a track leading up into the valley at G 928 860. The MPC starts from here. There is limited car parking available.

The weather in Donegal is notorious for being bad. If the weather isn t good over the weekend it is likely that there will be very poor visibility in the hills and that the ground at both camps will be very wet. You also have to cross a river on Friday night.

Be sure that you have brought enough gear with you so as to have a change of clothes in case you get totally wet and also that all your gear in your rucksack is carefully wrapped in plastic and kept in bags to stop it getting wet.

If visibility is poor your navigational skills are going to be tested as it is easy to wander off course. Make sure that you have practised navigation and pacing before going on the MPC.

Start [160] (G 928 860) to Junction [180] (G 943 869)
When you have been checked out by staff, follow the track through the forest for approximately 2 Kilometres until you reach the forest edge. Go quietly as you pass any houses. At G 943 869 you will find an unmarked track down to the river.

Junction [180] (G 943 869) to Base Camp [160] (G 941 871)
Take this track and follow down until you reach the river. You will have to cross the river so take care and follow any instructions that staff give you. The campsite is on the other side of the river approximately 100 m from the ruined houses. Check in at the campsite and try to get an early night as the Saturday walk will be long.

Saturday 17th October 1998

Base Camp [160] (G 941 871) to Lough Nacrow [461] (G 938 885)
Have a good breakfast and strike camp. Get a member of staff to check you out and head on a bearing up the mountain. Soon you will encounter a fence. Follow the fence up until it starts to lower and be broken down in some parts. You can cross over then and continue following your bearing to the lake.

Lough Nacrow [461] (G 938 885) to Blue Stack [674] (G 949 896)
From Lough Nacrow, head up on a bearing to the Blue Stack mountain itself. This will be the highest point of your hike. The cairn marked on the map is difficult to see and is a trig point at the base of a small ring of stones. There are excellent views here on a good day. You can see Ben Bulben in Sligo and Errigal further north in Donegal. You may also notice a series of windmills off in the distance

Blue Stack [674] (G 949 896) to Col [540] (G 960 900)
Be very sure of your bearing on this leg as the terrain gets very rocky and difficult to navigate on. On your way over you may come across the remains of a plane that crashed in the mountains over 50 years ago. There was one survivor who managed to make his way down the Glenties side of the mountains.

Col [540] (G 960 900) to Spot height [626] (G 964 905)
Ascend to spot height 626. This is on a very broad peak so be sure to follow your bearing as the terrain isn t as smooth as the map shows

Spot Height [626] (G 964 905) to Spot Height [642] (G 970 909)
Walk along a series of ups and downs to reach spot height 642. You will notice by now how much the terrain has changed from when you started the hike.

Spot Height [642] (G 970 909) to Col [560] (G 974 911)
Descend down into the Col. Take care in descending as the ground can be difficult to keep a pace on and you may slip.

Col [560] (G974 911) to Spot Height [641] (G 979 911)
Ascend to spot height 641. The lake marked on the map is close by but can t actually be seen from the spot height.

Spot Height [641] (G 979 911) to Col [440] (G 983 903)
Follow your bearing for a long descent down to the col. The ground will start to get wetter again and more slippery.

Col [440] (G 983 903) to Spot Height [495] (G 986 902)
Ascend from the Col to spot height 495. This is a relatively short ascent.

Spot Height [495] (G 986 902) to Spot Height [499] (G 990 903)
From Spot Height 495, walk along the spur to spot height 499. There is an easier descent from here.

Spot Height [499] (G 990 903) to Col [300] (G 996 898)
Descend with caution to the small lake in the middle of the broad col.

Col [300] (G 996 898) to Croaghanirwore [548] (H 003 892)
Ascend on a bearing to Croaghanirwore.

Croaghanirwore [548] (H 003 892) to Stream Bend/Junction [250] (G 985 888)
From Croaghanirwore take a bearing to the stream bend/junction.

Stream Junction [250] (G 985 888) to Lough Belshade [310] (G 981 895)
Follow the stream until it reaches Lough Belshade. You can cross the river at the lake as there is a fairly wide dam there.

Lough Belshade [310] (G 981 895) to High Camp [320] (G 974 894)
Follow the edge of the lake around to High Camp. Check in with staff on your arrival. Several years ago a Dam was put on the main river from the lake to control the flow of water. This has meant that the level of the lake has risen quite a bit in a few years so the choice of campsites is limited. Depending on the level of water maintained in the lake this may improve, but be prepared to camp closely together. According to local legend there is a flooded island in the middle of the lake with gold on it. This gold is supposed to bring bad luck to anyone who finds it and is guarded by the ghost of a cat who was drowned there.

Sunday 18th October 1998

High Camp [320] (G 974 894) to Lough Fad [340] (G 976 890)
Get a member of staff to check you out and follow a bearing from high Camp to Lough Fad. There are two Lough fads marked on the map so be sure to check your bearing

Lough Fad [340] (G 976 890) to beside Spot Height [402] (G 963 882)
As you walk from Lough Fad keep the three lakes to your left. You are heading for a narrow gap in the mountains just beside the spot height 402. Once you walk through the narrow passage you can see the valley below you leading to Lough Nacollum and down to the tracks.

Beside Spot Height [402] (G 963 882) to Lough Nacollum [300] (G 957 875)
The ground is easier to walk on and less broken. Continue on down to Lough Nacollum.

Lough Nacollum [300] (G 957 875) to Track [270] (G 951 870)
From Lough Nacollum you will soon pick up a distinct trail that leads down to a track.

Track [270] (G 951 870) to End [160] (G 928 860)
Turn right unto the track and follow it out. You will soon find yourself retracing your steps from Friday night. Remember to check out with staff before leaving.

Well Done!