Monday, 5 March 2012

Barraboy... Mountains and Wedge Tombs

Looking towards the Caha Mountains
5th March 2012

The Weather forecast is actually right today, the Sun is shining away in a bright blue sky. There's a slight frost... perfect Hill Walking weather.
Off out by 7:30 this morning and on my way to the Caha Pass, rom where I am going to head across to Barraboy.
It's half past eight by the time I get through the umpteen stop/go boards and to the first tunnel to park in the small layby next to the "Welcome to Cork" sign. Boots on and start the climb up to Turners Rock. The views are simply stunning, I could never tire of looking at mountains and water. The snow capped Magillycuddys Reeks are shining in the sunshine, Carrantuohill appearing then disappearing in the low clouds hanging over Kerry's finest.
Snow Capped Reeks
Turners Rock
I cross the fence from the Cork side to the Kerry side and follow the Beara Way loop yellow posts and the wire fence  Eastwards across the hilltops. Meadow Pipits parachute down in song flight and an occasional Skylark bursts into song. Apart from that, it's just me and the mountains !
Barraboy is still quite a way off as I pass over Esk Mountain. It's certainly wet up here, wet and slippery, as I slosh my way along.
The Way Ahead
The radio mast at the top of the old track from Canrooska to the Esk Valley comes into sight, and I descend slightly, to cross the track.
This is where I leave the Beara Way and continue uphill, pulling myself on the wire fence, up the steep and very slippery peaty slope. Soon the ground starts to even out, and I see the cairn at the top of Barraboy about three quarters of a mile ahead. I cross the fence back to the Cork side, as the going looks easier. The wide expanse of blanket bog to the South comes into view and I can just about make out the two Wedge Tombs right in the middle !
 Two Ravens circle overhead, as I arrive at the summit of Barraboy. 480 metres, 1574 feet above sea level. The modern cairn welcomes me to the top. It sits in the centre of a ruined circular cairn. Barraboy in Irish, is Cnoc Bharr Bui, which means "the yellow top" and you can see why - the long golden grass adorns the hillsides.
Blanket Bog and Wedge Tombs
 A quick drink, before heading South and down to the blanket bog. It's fairly steep but the going isn't too bad. There are plenty of sheep trails to follow. This is the watershed for the Canrooska River. Three small streams spring up out of the peaty ooze and merge ito one. Thankfully, crossing them presents no difficulty and I am now just yards away from the first of the two wedge tombs. The two are 20 metres apart on a North - South allignment.
Northern Wedge Tomb

Northern Wedge Tomb

Northern Wedge Tomb
 This first one is the smaller of the two. A single capstone sits atop of three uprights and two fallen stones. A further stone sticks out of the peat at the South Eastern front. This wedge tomb is aligned NNW-SSE.
The second one is more substantial.and has an interesting internal slab, which has had a notch cut into it, which must of had a special function. Maybe to let the Sun shine through at a certain time ?  It's not easy to work out exactly whats what on this one, as the peat and heather have started to take over.Neither bears any resemblance to the descriptions given on the National Monument website !
Southern Wedge Tomb

Southern Wedge Tomb

Southern wedge Tomb

The Notch in the Southern Wedge Tomb
 My next objective is the large standing stone at Crossterry East, some three quarters of a mile to the South West. I've got several streams to cross and several gullies to work my way  through. The stone is visible from the wedge tombs but disappears from sight as I walk Westwards, so a lot of this is going to be guess and hope ! A small Common Lizard, sits motionless sunbathing in the grass as I pass by, posing nicely for his photograph
 I must have gone through four or five gullies now, there's a real eerie feeling, wandering around amongst the massive boulders.
There's a sort of line of small trees heading up the hill, and that is what I am aiming for. Jumping over a large rock, I nearly land on a dead Sheep... lovely !!
 A small stream trickles down beside me as I pass between the flat hillside slabs, heading ever upwards, and eventually coming to another barbed wire fence. A quick scan around and the stone is actually still a way off, but all I have to do is follow the fence down to it.
Crossterry East Standing Stone is in a small wire enclosure. It's a fair size - 2.3 metres high, 1.15 metres wide and 0.85 metres in depth.It looks out over Bantry Bay and to Barraboy in the North East. To the West are the hills of the Beara Peninsula.
Crossterry East Standing Stone

Crossterry Standing Stone
 There should be another megalithic tomb, somewhere to the West of here, just before the track, but search as I might, I cannot for the life of me find it. Maybe it has been churned up to make way for the forestry that's springing up here !!
I'm now out on the Beara Way track, which will take me back up to the radio mast. It's a steep haul up but I'm soon there. Over the stile and make my way back up Esk Mountain, having a quick look back over at Barraboy and Canrooska to see where I have been.
The Track
 I notice the Paps of Anu away in the far distance. Didn't notice them earlier.
Back at Turners Rock, I cross back to the Cork side and make my way back down to the car.
It's been a really lovely walk, about 8 or so miles I reckon, perfect conditions and it's been great to get back out into the hills. I've not seen a single other person all day !!!
Looking forward to getting home and having a cup of tea !
At home, I'm rather disappointed to learn that I missed a standing stone some 200 metres from the wedge tombs !
The Paps of Anu in the distance

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