My memories of trial walk on the Maamturks, 1974

Following on many discussions and many pints of creamy Guinness in Peacocke’s outer room across the yard which generally had a roaring fire ready for us on a Sunday evening, it was decided to try and set up a route that would be a challenge to walkers, hill-climbers and fell-runners alike.   Not many of us in the UCG Mountaineering club at the time knew much about fell-running although many of us had taken part in the Mourne Walk, the Lugnaquilla Walk, the Galtees walk and the Carrauntouhill walk.  Some had overseas climbing experience while Scotland and the Lake District was the farthest most had gone.

But back to 1974 and our “recce” into the Maamturks.  It was latish on a Friday evening (I believe) in either April or May when our small party parked our cars – some at the base of Corcogemore (or Leckavrea on the old No 10 OS map) while another car had been left at Leenane.  I cannot remember exactly who was on the trip apart from Tony Whilde and me, Jane Doyle and David Watt and Herman Rasche (I’m not sure).  It was not unusual for us (generally Herman) to carry a large container of stew (even once in a bucket!) that was heated on our stoves and had as our supper before we would tuck in to bivvy for the night.  The reason I remember Jane and David so well was, they were speedy walkers and headed off at quite a pace, so much so that they ended off at St. Patrick’s Well and spent their night there.  

We had decided to bivvy at Cruiscín after our meal in the lee of very strong winds and driving rain from the SW. Each person had their own bivvy bag and some managed to make some form of shelter with stones etc. At the time, I had a Jack Russell X terrier called Mysis who was the best hill walker in the group. His herding instinct meant that he went from the head of the group to the last person in the group all the time and we reckoned he probably did each walk about three/four times over. In fact, he started his career in the hill in my rucksack with just his little head sticking out.   

At sleeptime that night and as was his wont, Mysis got down into the bottom of my sleeping bag – my pride and joy, Black’s of Greenock body bag – and went fast asleep. How he got air, I will never know but I had warm feet as a trade off.  At some stage in the middle of the night, I heard a vixen howl.   Mysis did too and wriggled up out of the bag scratching and scraping me in his hurry to get out for the fox hunt. I waited for a long while for him to come back but eventually sleep took over. At some stage I awoke to one, sodden wet dog trying to get back down into the sleeping bag where he slept solidly till morning.  My feet may have been warm but now they were wet as well.

Next morning, we met up with Jane and David and carried on our walk.  While I am sure notes were being noted and escape points were being checked, the rest of the day seemed long and tough as it was wet and windy.  Visability was quite reduced and I quite remember that some people had trouble locating the saddle at Gleniska.  Not everyone carried a compass and depended on others for navigation! Crazy but true. On moving along the ridge towards Leenane and imagining the end closeby, the group split on either side of the valley dropping into Leenane – a fact that only became evident when we dropped out of the clouds but what the heck! We could see a road maybe not the right road but Leenane was in sight.

Barbara Buckley (Whilde) 11th Mar ‘15