Video + Photos by Derek // Write up by Mickey
12th -14th October 2018
Eight of us took on this adventure hike which largely shadowed the second portion of the Western Way over three days and two nights in the wilds of the west of Ireland. Starting out at Aasleagh Falls just as the weather warning for Storm Callum was scheduled to end, we steeply ascended onto the shoulder of Ben Gorm. From there we ridge-walked east with Tawnyard Lough opening out below to our left. Eventually we descended into the forestry by Derrintin Lough, the strong gusty winds not having eased since we set off. A well-sheltered camp was set up before dark and as the light faded we cooked up and settled in around the roaring fire with the clear, starlit sky peeking through the tree cover overhead. Everyone was in fine fettle to say the least.
Packed up and fed we emerged onto the Western Way track crossing the bridge downstream of Tawnyard after which we travelled a good number of miles to the Sheeffrey Pass bridge. Our intention from here was to avoid any further road walking by hiking directly through the hills towards the back of Croagh Patrick (our outdated OSi map had the Western Way marked along roads in this section). However, as we ascended high up into the rough moorland through the mountain mist, we encountered waymarkers and realised we had inadvertently found what turned out to be the updated Western Way route! This was surprising as many “ways” in Ireland have worn tracks to aid navigation but this stretch certainly did not and that in itself was very refreshing. Our route descended by the isolated Lough Lugacolliwee, a truly beautiful and isolated lake surrounded by steep rocky mountainside. Ignoring the waymarks from here, a few hours of trekking over peaty moorland, through some forestry and along some boreens ensued and increasing consideration was given to where we should camp for the night. It was starting to get dark and the immediate options available to set up camp (i.e. dense damp plantation forestry with little running water) were very unappealing. Thankfully after much perseverance, we found a reasonable spot on some raised ground along the shore of Lough Nacorra and got set up for the night, all our bivvies tucked in under a good-sized tarp to keep us dry.
The final day took us from our camp at Lough Nacorra up the much lesser-walked back route of Croagh Patrick and on to its peak. The final descent brought us straight into Campbell’s Bar in Murrisk for the now traditional “two pint” Guinness toast to deservedly quench our thirst.