– to superb new lake panoramas

P1010105Cardiac Hill

“Why don’t we try something different – what about Cardiac Hill?” I offered following the brother’s expected suggestion that we walk Muckross and Dinis – a route that I agree has no parallel but it is good to experience some of the many other options.

“Oh great,” was the response of his 25 year old daughter, but ‘cardiac’ had him more than a little non-plussed. To be fair he had walked from our ‘Gallan Eile’ holiday home to Faill a’ Crann only a few weeks ago (September 7 nature notebook).

“Is this an old path?” the brother asked. It is hard to believe that a route developed less than ten years ago has settled down so well. The entire stone-stepped way has the feeling of a path that might date back to Victorian times.

The whole way is through dense foliage. Over the millennia this was oak woodland with holly underneath. A grove of tall eucalyptus was planted some years ago. Now all are drowned in rhododendron, through which the path had to be cut.

From the beginning Kate and Billy (my dog) raced ahead.  From very shortly after the start there are ever widening panoramas. First over the Middle Lake (also called Muckross Lake & Torc Lake). The brother stopped regularly Рto admire the view, of course. I also stopped and looked. As a good guide, of course.

My impression was that the Cardiac Hill steps rise about a thousand feet over a mile or so. The Ordnance Survey map (1:25,000 Killarney National Park) would suggest that height and distance are significantly less.

As we climbed higher the view opened up to the wooded Muckross peninsula and the Lower Lake (Lough Leane).

P1010101Cardiac Hill

I love the humour of the wags who placed the sign ‘THE END IS NEAR’ a little way from the finish of the climb. The photograph might suggest that ‘the end’ referred to the brother’s life expectancy, but that is entirely unfair. He was responding to my request to be theatrical. But it was not difficult.

At the top of Cardiac Hill the path travels east across the north face of Torc. This was a route developed over 50 years ago. The much less demanding original path continued further west to a dramatic view over the entire Upper Lake. Hopefully this will be re-opened in the near future.

The work in recent weeks by the Mountain Meitheal has opened up unprecedented views of the entire Middle and Lower Lakes, cutting back huge banks of rhododendron growing on very sheer mountain terrain. A very difficult and dangerous job. Now most of the high route has an almost constant view of lake, mountain and woodland – the three essential elements of the Killarney landscape.

The route joins a forest road. There are options of coming down west of Torc Waterfall – with no view of the cascade – or east by the falls. Then back to the start along the park road that runs parallel to the main road. We went a different way – more about that next week.

“I am glad to have climbed Cardiac Hill but I probably won’t do it again”, was the last word from the brother.

– Frank Lewis

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