Walks:The Devil's Punchbowl on Mangerton

  • 7 January 2005
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So it is not surprising that over Christmas and New Year, this track turns into a pilgrimage route dedicated to counteracting over-indulgence. Most years, the weather assists by putting on a penitential air. The day we chose was fairly leaden, but most parking spaces were already taken when we arrived, and the early birds were already striding (or in some cases running) down.

As usual, the 'track' was a quagmire for the first few hundred yards, but dried (at least relatively) as we begin to climb seriously. Optimistically, we had left waterproofs in rucksacks – a decision hastily revised when horizontal hail closed in.

The view back, over Killarney and lakes, unfolded intermittently, at least giving excuses for getting our breath back. Higher up, there were misty glimpses of the Reeks across the Black Valley between further showers, now of snow.

The track continues safely round to the outlet stream at the corner of the lake. But, masochistic as ever, we cut off vertically to arrive, triumphant if breathless, on the ridge overlooking the loch – only to dive pretty rapidly into the nearest available shelter to swig coffee and warm numb fingers.

From here, it is just a few hundred yards further to a tiny lochan on the arôte above, with stunning views down over the string of paternoster lakes in the rocky fastness of the Horses' Glen. But would there be views today? We didn't stay to discover, but headed down, harried mercilessly by the wind. Next year, perhaps?