Crotty’s Rock

Crotty’s Lake II

After a short break we continue our ascend to the lake. A beautiful view of the scenic valley between the cloud-clad Slievenamon and the Comeragh Mountains will follow you all the way up acquiring a map-like look as you climb higher.

In the picture below, you see the south end of the valley, a glimpse of Croughaun Hill on the right, and the Portlaw windmills in the skyline. What a view!

The bump on the top of this steep hill is The Ass’s Tail.  The Ass’s Ears (and the lake) are located right behind. Instead of struggling our way up, we will wisely follow the waymarks round the hill choosing the dry grass patches between the rocks and the sheep tracks to guide us through the heather.

There are three kinds of heather in the Comeraghs, of which only one is a real heather – Ling or Calluna vulgaris. The other two are Erica – Cross-leaved heath, and the Bell heather in the picture below. Erica have plump magenta-colored flowers.

I have read that heather can live for 30 years.

The Irish weather is not always dry and sunny. Be careful around the tiny streams emerging after the rain. The incline gets steeper here – slow down, stop and take a picture 😉

Nearly there! The last stretch is my favorite.

First you see a pair of pinnacles. That’s right, they are The Ass’s Ears.

Then the lake itself appears, and it is like magic, especially when you see a redhead fairy taking a selfie.

We walk along the lake, taking in the majestic beauty of the rugged cliffs.

We will hike closer to the pinnacles to see the Crotty’s Rock.

First we take a short hike up the steep slope on the right side of the lake to get some views.

When taking this picture, I was the only human being as far as I could see in any direction.

We continue walking along the slope, sometimes with nothing more but narrow sheep tracks to help us through the thick heather.

Sometimes we need to switchback or walk around the rocks.

That’s high! 😊

Higher 😊

Now you can see The Crotty’s Rock on the top of the pinnacle.

Another hike, this time to the left side of the lake. From here we can see the Crotty’s cave. To get there, he had to swim and use a rope to lower himself under the ground level.

The slope is very steep here, and the sheep tracks are narrow and boggy. Do the sheep ever fall off the rocks? Yes, they do.

I found some parts of the sheep skeleton – mandible and a part of the cranium.

More views.

I hope this part of the Comeragh mountains won’t change. People don’t want to drive to this lake. They want to hike there. Those who come to Ireland are not looking for luxuries. They see value in unspoiled natural scenery, a special kind of adventure. My opponents always mention the Mahon Falls, Co Waterford, as an example of successful tourist destination, but it is different, it is a former turf cutting site. Comeragh mountain lakes are precious gems, and any attempt to make them ‘touristy’ takes their value away.

Thank you for being such great walking buddies. Next time we will visit another beautiful lake.

  Have a wonderful week!

Crotty’s Lake I

I am standing above the Crotty’s Lake, Crotty’s Cave somewhere under my feet. To get there, you can either hike from any other part of the Comeragh Mountains, or choose to walk a road, which leaves you with only 450 m of rough land to cross.

This is Bernard Cullinane, the owner of the land around the Crotty’s Lake and a trusted source of information 😊. You can stop at The Ass’s Ears and have a cup of tea before you walk further up the slope.

When the pandemic began, he and his family did a great job on their picnic area project.

My favorite is The Labyrinth.

Bernard’s sister Vera has an Instagram page where you can share your pictures of the lake and the area.

Another great source of information is Barry Dalby of EastWest Mapping, a company providing cartographic services. They have a Facebook page too. EastWest maps are very detailed and linked with historical data. You can also download an EastWest app on your phone.

When I say ‘we will walk a road’, I mean we will walk about a mile of a steep grassy path with the mountain slope on our left and a breathtaking bird-eye view on our right. We can expect to see some wildlife too. One day a fox stuck his head out of a gorse bush right in front of me. We had an eye contact and after a minute he slowly retired back into the bush. I kept walking for another while until I had to stop and take a breath. It is when I realised that the fox had been following me all the way up. I slowly moved towards him to take pictures.

I have never seen a wild fox that close. Left a piece of banana for him – it must be the reason he walked in my steps all the way. I know they love bananas.

Another beautiful thing that makes your hike delightful is the mountain stream gurgling along the road.

Even sheep appreciate the view.

You will see many sheep around.

This is the last stretch of the road before climbing up the slope. I am not sure the road was actually there 300 years ago, but I can easily imagine William Crotty riding along.

Breathtaking view on the right.

The path to the lake is marked, but you will like some little deviations to take pictures of many interesting objects and wildlife. Be careful not to stray away though. Return to the marks and walk from one mark to another – you will save your energy and time.

You might see a rabbit or Irish hare.

The rocks of many fantastic shapes will fuel your imagination

 

I found a rare Crimson waxcap – Hygrocybe punicea – among some other waxcaps. You can see them from far away.

Gnarled Hawthorn trees – some of them long dead- are a striking part of the landscape.

I didn’t see a hoof-marked rock, but spotted this skull mark from a distance. It looks pretty menacing.

There are four arrows to give us the right direction, but it is up to us where to put our feet, so choose wisely. Another 450 m, or a third of a mile, and we will reach the lake, but don’t expect it to make it to the lake in 5 minutes, especially if it is your first time on the slope 😊 How about 35 minutes? That sounds reasonable 😊

We will complete the hike by the weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  Have a wonderful day!