25 August 2009

How Can We Improve?

I received some brilliant testimonials from happy people who have been out with me and my team. Click here to read them

What I'm really interested in now is how I can improve the services that myself, Daniel, Ferghal and Tadhg are offering?

How can we make things better and smoother for you, from the initial phone call or email all the way through to the end?

Any suggestions and comments would be highly appreciated...
Feel free to be as critical as you like as that will help us improve everything.

What to look for with Waterproofs

Any more suggestions or tips? Feel free to leave a comment...

Mountain Skills Training

What to look for with Hiking Boots

Any more suggestions or tips? Feel free to leave a comment...

Mountain Skills Training

24 August 2009

Kerry Way Night Hike

Saturday midnight - live Irish music pouring from Kate Kearney's Pub, wind steadily increasing, misty drizzle dampening the air, and us standing in our hill walking boots and waterproofs waiting to meet 14 hardy hikers who had signed up to climb Carrauntoohil.

Because of the gale force winds and torrential rain forecast, after much discussion with my guides, we had changed the route to one of the longer, more challenging, sections of the Kerry Way, which would have us sheltered from the imminent gales!

It was difficult to leave Sean's cosy bus but as the mild night air struck our faces and the tarmac road rose to meet us the adrenaline began to flow and sleepiness disappeared. We crept through a farm yard, disturbing what sounded like twenty dogs, and into Gearhanagour Glen. At a quick break, with the torches turned off, the three sides of the glen rose up around us, slightly darker than the black starless sky. Ahead of us, although the path was invisible, we could see the height that would soon have to be ascended...

After about an hour into the walk, and several streams later, we left the comforting Kerry Way sign posts and the path dissolved into steep open and rocky hillside. Huge boulders littered the ground, with deep knee-wrenching holes between them, often covered by thick heather. The rain was steady and persistent now, silver drops in the torch beams... Mist passed over us in intermittent waves, as we surfed through it our torches pierced only ten or fifteen metres ahead.
After a couple of hours of zig zagging and careful route picking we crested the saddle between Glencar and the Brida Valley. For a short time we were exposed to the full brunt of the wind and rain as we followed a rickety fence along the saddle. Dropping into mist and shelter the hardy, but slightly wet and tired group pulled bright orange kissus over their heads and protected from the weather gulped hot tea and chocolate while Niall and I located our descent route.

Darragh's flickering head torch was a welcome sight as he climbed up to meet us and guide us down into the Brida Valley. The descent path is called the Lack Road and is an old butter road, used by farmers since the 1600s to sell their surplus butter to the Cork Butter Exchange. This was quite a dangerous butter road. Because it's so high and exposed; bandits would sometimes lie in wait to rob the farmers few shillings on their return journey from Cork.

The Brida Valley translates as 'Prison Valley'. Crossing the noisy rivers and rocky slopes leading up towards the MacGillycuddy Reeks it's easy to see why this remote, desolate spot was once referred to as a prison...

The little path leading through the impressive pass between the Brida and the Black Valley is solid and dependable with the occasional wrong detour quickly corrected. The dark mass of Broaghnabinnia looms on our right and looking behind us the sky is beginning to lighten to a dark grey with swirling mist caressing the boulders and spurs. An eerie stone row thrusts bluntly into the grey sky, thought to line up with the rising sun on the autumn equinox by some, or an ancient ancient burial site by others.

The Black Valley opens out before us, people quieter now as 6am and 7am trickle by. The silver jeep, parked beyond the highest house in the Black Valley, is a welcome sight and a carefully planned surprise of 5 litres of steaming drinking chocolate and chocolate bars await us.

Later that morning we sit down in the warmth and comfort of Dromhall Hotel to a delicious breakfast of pastries and full Irish. Toast and marmalade never tasted so good!

I'm running two upcoming Carrauntoohil Night Hikes; one on Saturday 5th September and one on Saturday 14th November.

Click here for more details.

I've four Night Kayak Trips on Lough Leane coming up:
Thurs 3rd Sept
Mon 7th Sept
Sat 19th Sept
Sat 26th Sept
These special trips will begin at 10pm and last for two to three hours, through the little islands on Lough Leane, along the wooded shorelines and into some of the secretive inlets.

The price is €45 per person and all equipment is provided.
To book contact me on info@outdoorsireland.com or 086 860 45 63.

22 August 2009

End Of Summer Deals!

As the summer draws to a close we've put together some exciting deals for August and September! We've also hugely discounted prices as a thank you for supporting us over the past year
Learn to Rock Climb
Climbing, Abseiling, Belaying, Knots, Equipment & Techniques
29th & 30th Aug
19th & 20th Sept
€140pp or €80pp for three or more people

Hike the Kerry Way, from Glencar to Glenbeigh
Relaxing Hiking, Spectacular Views, Ancient Legends & Local History
1st Sept
3rd Sept

Climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland's Highest Mountain
Glaciated Corries, Deep Lakes & Ice Carved Ridges
2nd Sept
4th Sept

3 Day Kayaking Course
Kayak Strokes, Techniques, Rescues, White Water Skills
31st Aug - 2nd Sept
7th - 9th Sept
19th - 21st Sept

3 Day Rock Climbing Course
Climbing & Abseiling Techniques, Sea Cliff Climbing
2nd - 4th Sept
9th - 11th Sept
26th - 28th Sept

Intro to Scrambling in MacGillycuddy Reeks
Route Choice, Techniques, Hazards, Communication
14th & 15th Sept
€140pp or €80pp for three or more people

Scrambling & Ropework in MacGillycuddy Reeks
Advanced Scrambling, Ropework, Emergency Abseiling
16th & 17th Sept
€140pp or €80pp for three or more people

Night Kayak Trips on Lough Leane
Dark Islands, Wooded Shorelines, Secretive Inlets
Thurs 3rd Sept
Mon 7th Sept
Sat 19th Sept
Sat 26th Sept
€45 per person

For Accommodation Deals In Killarney Check Out:
Randles Hotel
Robeen House B&B
Railway Hostel

21 August 2009

Glencar Mass Path

This is a great picture I took last Saturday, which really shows what the Kerry Way is like...

19 August 2009

Lough Currane to Sneem Hike

This is one of my favourite pieces of the Kerry Way – a little undiscovered gem!

Leave your car just outside Waterville at the top of Lough Currane, where the marked way leaves the road and heads south.

The rocky path meanders through small fields and climbs steeply to the Windy Gap, where a little crevice cuts through the eastern flank of Eagle’s Hill. The view from the Windy Gap is really and truly breathtaking. One of my best memories of hill walking is reaching this high saddle at 4am on a September morning and sitting down to marvel at the rising sun’s glistening rays illuminating the Caha mountains of Cork, Kenmare Bay and the peaceful Cove Harbour, with its many splintered headlands…

Descending the Windy Gap you’ll pass St Crohan’s Well on your left. According to local expert, Sean O’ Suilleabhain, this well was once used for curing eye ailments!

A delightful green road stretches downhill before you for 3km, although in places the encroaching bog is beginning to claim the road. It’s thought to have once been a butter and farming road. Rumours stir that Daniel O’ Connell’s smuggler uncle, ‘Hunting Cap’ O Connell used this trail in the dead of night to distribute his smuggled alcohol and tobacco far and wide. As his empty boats departed Derrynane Bay, heading overseas for more counterfeit, he used to smuggle wealthy Irish teenagers out of Ireland for college education. This was how Daniel O’ Connell was able to leave the country and receive his education in France.

At the grassy junction of Camomile Corner, take a left for Sneem. Looking back uphill you may see the ruins of old copper mills, last mined in 1900. The ancient living quarters of St. Crohan, a damp dripping cave is nearby the mines.

The Kerry Way now meanders along through farmland, over little stiles and under thick fuchsias. You’ll pass a ruined church and graveyard; further on there’s a 2km detour up to Staigue Fort, thought to date back to about 500 BC.

You climb through a little pass at Ardmore and another at Esknaloughoge, before descending into a thick dark pine wood, where all sounds are muffled and the forest floor always seems to be dry, no matter how hard it rains.

5km of relaxing forest roads and country lanes lead past the brightly painted Garda cottage, with its little Fiat Punto parked outside, into Sneem village. The Riverside Café, halfway through the village, is a great place for toasted sandwiches, mugs of hot tea and sticky chocolate cake!

The hike is approximately 19km and is suitable for most abilities. Waterproofs, walking boots and a map are needed.

This Saturday night I have another guided night ascent of Carrauntoohil scheduled, with some places left available, if you’re interested in something a little more challenging!

Click here for more details

14 August 2009

Upcoming Places

Sunday 16th: Rock Climbing & Abseiling in Gap of Dunloe
930am to 1230pm - €50pp

Monday 17th & Tuesday 18th: Scrambling Course in MacGillycuddy Reeks (including Howling Ridge)

Tuesday 18th: Kayak Trip on Lakes of Killarney
2pm to 5pm - €50pp

Friday 21st: Kayak Trip on Lakes of Killarney
10am to 1pm - €50pp

Saturday 22nd: Carrauntoohil Night Ascent
Midnight on Sat to Sun morning - €85pp (including breakfast)

For more details contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com or 086 860 45 63

12 August 2009

Laune Kayak Trip

Last week I did a fabulous river kayak trip. We launched our boats into the dark fast flowing water at Laune Bridge, just below where the Laune River leaves Lough Leane. It was a humid sticky day so the instant refreshment of the cool deep water was extremely welcoming.

The river here is wide and deep, bordered by thickly wooded banks and occasional large grassy fields where freshly shorn sheep stared at us. Talking and laughing it was only when we looked down at the river bed beneath us that we realised how fast the river was sweeping us downstream. On a wide calm bend the ruined walls and empty windows of Dunloe Castle came into view perched on a rise, surrounded by flowering bushes.

We didn’t have long to spend looking at the castle as the river was picking up speed again and swooshed us down through slightly more turbulent waters. Down here we disturbed a little Sika deer, a grey and spotted fawn, nibbling on hanging creepers. We silently watched her and she watched us back, like a rabbit dazzled by headlights. Someone’s paddle splashed the water and she flicked around and bounded into the bushes, instantly out of sight…

Maybe it was the excitement of the fawn that caused Laurence to capsize moments later! Spitting and splashing he pulled his kayak into the river bank to empty it. As we paused here we noticed a little tributary stream flowing into the Laune. The stream was deep and so much colder than the main river, tiny dark trout darted back and forth below us as we quietly paddled up this little stream, hoping to see the fawn again; instead we met a predatory swan drifting in the shadows!

Back on the main river it didn’t take long until we rounded another corner to the rumbling of rapids at Beaufort Bridge. The Laune surges downstream here through the bridge arches, hanging with ivy. Avoiding the serious hazards of the water flowing into the arches and some branches caught against the bridge walls we paddled through splashing rapids to the bottom and carried our kayaks up to the waiting jeep.

This is an excellent afternoon’s trip and can be made into a full day paddle if you continue past Ballymalis Castle to Killorglin. It’s only for experienced paddlers with full safety gear, as the river banks, trees and submerged branches can be hazardous.

Some of the staff from Randles Hotels, in Killarney, were out for a relaxing morning’s kayak trip recently on the Lakes of Killarney. ‘‘To experience the lakes by kayak surpassed all our expectations. It proved a fantastic fun team building experience. We can highly recommend the day to companies and individuals alike and have been recommending these trip to our own guests ever since” Linda Crossan, Sales & Marketing Manager of Randles Hotels had to say about the trip afterwards. Linda keeps a blog for Randles Hotels which is worth checking out; http://randlescourt.com/killarney