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Wishing everyone a relaxing and peaceful day wherever you are.

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On the day after Christmas Day, I climbed Carrauntoohil, the highest mountain in Ireland.

Carrauntoohill

Carrauntoohil is located in Co. Kerry, not so far from the towns of Killarney and Killorglin. It is part of the Magilicuddy Reeks, the loftiest of the mountain ranges in Southwest Ireland.

To reach Carrauntoohil, you must first negotiate your way through the Hag’s Glen, a massive U-shaped valley strewn with ancient moraine. The most usual route to the top is via the Devil’s Ladder, a steep and now quite dangerous route.

Hag's Glen

We didn’t go that way. Instead we ascended via the far more impressive Shay’s Gully route. On the way up, you can see ahead of you the clear remnant of an ancient glacier now long disappeared.

Ascending Shay's Gully

It was a long slog, but we reached the mountain peak in good time. It was like a train station at the top! St. Stephen’s Day – what we in Ireland call the day after Christmas Day – is an incredibly popular day for mountain climbing. Literally hundreds of people take the journey, and there have been more than one casualty on this day, on this mountain, in the past.

At the top

It was absolutely freezing at the top, so we didn’t stay for too long. We descended via Heaven’s Gate: a steep yet manageable and highly picturesque natural stairway to the bottom of the valley.

Descending via Heaven's Gate

I took this picture of a sheep on the way down. And you think you’ve got troubles..

Sheep on cliff

A big thanks to Barry who lead us up and back down again. He was a great help to us particularly where we needed to negotiate steep rock walls on our way down.

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I guess for a lot of people it’s been a rather strange run up to Christmas. Things are a lot more subdued this year and judging by the intensity of the last minute rush to the shops and the noticeable lack of outdoor lighting this year, it’s as if people put off thinking about it until the last possible moment.

I am no exception. Last year, I managed to get all my Christmas cards written in plenty of time, but this year the postal deadlines came and went without me putting pen to paper, and I feel more than a little embarrassed about it. Even so, all the presents have been bought and I’m looking forward to a day of relaxation tomorrow, followed by a walk up the mountains the following day.

I have nothing else to say but to thank you all for sharing a little bit of my life, my interests and my half-baked thoughts over the past year. I wish you all the very best over the holiday season.

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