Statistics: 13.6 miles, ascent 2577′, descent 2659′, 8 hours
I awoke early to watch the sunrise over the beautiful, remote Black Valley.
Sheila and the dogs bid us good-bye as we left the B&B and began an enjoyable walk down a narrow lane, with the craggy MacGillycuddy’s Reeks on one side and the distant Gearhameen River on the other.
As previously mentioned, the “colored” (sprayed) sheep around here are intriguing. I was reminded of “a horse of a different color” in the Wizard of Oz as we walked past several “sheep of a different color”!
Approaching the end of Black Valley, Lough Reagh came into view, nestled at the foot of three mountains: Knocklomena, Knockaunanattin, and Mullaghanattin. Great names! Try to pronounce them…
Next we discovered the cottage ruins at Dromluska, a particularly sobering sight. Such “famine ruins” (as they are called) are prevalent in Ireland – reminders of the devastation caused by the potato famine in the mid 1800’s. Ireland’s population dropped by 20% due to death and emigration.
A German girl walking solo joined us as we climbed up to Bridia Pass. Walking with fellow hikers and making new friends are great diversions along the way. Then, it was a kick to enter a restaurant at the end of the day and see familiar, friendly faces that we had met earlier on the trail.
Once at the summit of Bridia Pass, we had a splendid view of the length of Caragh Valley.
Entering the Caragh Valley, we discovered a great lunch stop, The Cookie Monster Café. With hot chocolate, cream tea, fresh home-baked pastries, sandwiches and more, everything looked delicious. After buying pastries for lunch, we sat and were quickly joined by a very cheeky, little robin named Fred, identified as a “regular” by the Cookie Monster host, John.
After our tasty repast, we climbed up the old Lack Road (an ancient cart trail) navigating ten switchbacks to finally reach the summit. There we enjoyed the view of Lough Acoose and, in the distance, the Dingle Peninsula. Later, we came upon a long row of crumbling famine houses, just another instance of famine house ruins around the area.
Our day ended in Glencar at the comfortable, well-appointed B&B, The Rowan Tree. The congenial host, Michael O’Grady, made us feel very welcome as he served our afternoon tea and even joined us for a good chat. Later, his wife, Joanne, prepared a fabulous salmon dinner – a perfect way to conclude our evening.