Autumn Gathering 2019

Friday October 18th – Sunday October 20th

Kilmacthomas Walking Club

Kilmacthomas Walking Club, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford was founded in November 2004 so we are now approaching 15 years in existence. We have approximate 60 members at present.

Kilmacthomas is located at the base of the Comeragh Mountains in the heart of Waterford halfway between Waterford City and Dungarvan. The club was formed to explore and appreciate the beauty of the adjacent mountains.

The club normally meets on Sunday mornings in Kilmacthomas to carpool to the walk location. Our walk programme is available on our web site and any last minute alterations are notified to club members via ‘Whats app’.

The natural beauty of the countryside in Waterford is often overlooked in favour of other tourist sites, which is a pity, as few other counties have such a variety of mountain, sea and river environments all within close proximity to each other and are easily accessible. The club is fortunate to have all of this natural beauty on our door step.  

The club likes to pride itself on its friendliness and accommodates walkers at all levels. Companionship is an important aspect of the club. Our mantra is: “it’s not a competition” and we walk at a pace that suits our participants. We generally alternate between flat and hill/mountain walks every other week. Most walks take between 2 and 4 hours.

We walk primarily in the Comeragh/Monavullagh Mountains but we also go regularly to the Knockmealdowns, Galtees, Slievenamon, and elsewhere, as well as flat walks throughout the southeast along river, forest and coastal routes.

The club is conscious of its responsibility not to disturb the environment in which we walk and the need to protect and conserve the landscape that we enjoy so much and to leave it so that others may also derive the same pleasures as we have.

The club encourages its members to improve their skills in navigation, walk leadership, mountain skills while at the same time benefitting from improved fitness and health.  We believe that it is very important to stop and enjoy the beauty around us.

We appreciate the local agriculture community for their good will in allowing us access to such a marvellous amenity.

We have had a few “away” weekends each year and we celebrate Christmas and the Summer with nights out. In addition, most years the club plans a walking trip abroad. Previous trips have included sections of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Snowdonia, Nepal and The Dolomites.

We have also had night walks in the Comeragh’s which have been dependent on a full moon and clear skies.

The club welcomes contact from other walking clubs that would like to share the experience and adventure of walking in the Comeraghs

The Comeragh Mountains

The Comeragh mountain range contains a number of sub mountains that include Monavullagh, Coumaraglin and Lyre mountains and stretches from Dungarvan in the south to Clonmel in the north. There are a series of corries along the east and west flanks of the mountain. The eastern face of the mountain contains cliff faces and corries while the western face consists of a more gentle sloping landscape. The extent of the mountain range is contained on the Ordnance Survey Map No. 75. 

The mountain range contains few peaks as the summit is a plateau and the highest point is at 792 metres, marked by a cairn otherwise it might not be easily located as there is nothing to distinguish it from the surrounding area. Once climbed the Comeraghs may seem an easy crossing but there are many obstacles in the soft peat covering such as wet bog, cuttings, rivers all of which can be energy draining. When visibility is poor navigation skills are required to safely transverse the mountain as there are few suitable landmarks to guide the way.

The Comeragh plateau is an eroding blanket bog with numerous peat hags, exposed gravel and wet bog areas. The plateau landscape might be compared to a lunar type situation. Ground cover consists principally of grasses, peat, heather and ferns.

The attraction of the Comeraghs is the variety of the landscape it offers which include some of the finest corrie lakes in the country, rivers, forests, valleys, waterfalls, cliff faces, ridges and rolling hills. There is a waterfall above the Sgilloges where the prevailing wind can blow the water backwards to form a mist and that is referred to as ‘sean bhean ag caitheamh tobac’

Coumshinguan Lake is the largest lake in the Comeraghs and covers an area of about 15 hectares and has a vertical cliff face to the rear which is 350 metres high which is almost double the height of the Cliffs of Mohar. Most of the lakes in the Comeraghs are corrie lakes or cuams which were formed by glacial movement during the Ice Age. Not all of the cuams contain lakes such as Cuam Eag which is a dry cuam.

The high level horseshoe walk above the Cuamshinguan is one of the finest walks in the south east of the country and includes scrambling, a bit of bouldering and great views out to sea or inland to the Galtee and the Knockmealdown mountain ranges on a clear day.

Adjacent to Counshinguan is Crotty’s Lake and Crottys Rock which was the hiding place of an eighteenth century highwayman and despite many years of searching we have not found any of his rumoured hidden hoard. To the rear of Crotty’s Lake is Cuam Iathar another fine example of a corrie lake with a flat plateau overhead, a rear cliff wall and a lake entrapped by a moraine. There are a number of smaller lakes downstream from the main lake. Continuing anticlockwise around the perimeter of the mountain is Cuamdula and further on under Knockanaffrin is Lake Morha. In the Nire Valley there are the two Sgilloge Loughs, the two Coumalocha Lakes and further on Lough Cuamfea. Over the mountain are a string of small lakes in Coumtay.

There are few defined tracks in the Comeraghs but a number of marked ways have been established in the Nire Valley area. There is a trail head at the Nire Carpark (S 277 128) and at Curraheen (S 307 154) that give access to these tracks.  A prepared path gives access to the

waterfall at Mahon Falls which is a very popular tourist attraction. Close to the Falls the local community have developed a pleasant walk in Crough (pronounced ‘crew’) Wood which is a beautiful oak and beech forest straddling the Mahon River. 

Much of the walking in the Comeraghs is in open ground and maybe, if you’re lucky you will find some sheep tracks to ease the trek.

The Mahon, the Clodiagh and the Nire rivers rise in close proximity to each in the plateau above Cuamshinguan. Other rivers that rise in the Comeraghs include the Glasha, the Glenary, the Colligan, the Dalligan and the Tay.

The Comeraghs contain much evidence of past civilizations with numerous standing stones, stone circles, barrows and fulacha fias. It is astonishing to think that we walk about in an area that was once a thriving community more than 4000 years ago. There are many remains of the built environment hidden in the hills ranging from the above archaeological finds, deserted villages in Glenary and in Corraun, an ex British Army Shooting Range on Long Hill, stone sheep enclosures, and two disused ugly MMD relay stations

The Comeraghs Mountains are a most under used amenity and it is possible to spend a weekend in the mountain without seeing another human being. The walk into the Falls and low level access to Cuamshinguan can be very popular especially at weekends.

Waterford is fortunate in having such rich and varied mountain range in its midst.

Accommodation

We will be based out of The Park Hotel for the entire weekend. The Hotel provides meeting room space as well as a large dining area for the Saturday night dinner and entertainment and a separate bar and restaurant area. We have booked a number of rooms for the Gathering. Please let the hotel know you are with the Mountaineering Ireland Autumn Gathering at the time of booking to avail of a special rate. Any unallocated rooms will be released back to the hotel so be sure to book early.

As always, Saturday is the main day of activities during the weekend with walking and an environmental workshops available to choose from. We limit numbers on most of our activities so please make your selection at the time of booking online. The member’s forum will take place in the Park Hotel at 18.30 on Saturday evening. We will go straight into dinner and entertainment at 20.00.

Sunday morning will see a range of 3 hour workshops and a walk on the greenway.

Again, please book your choice of workshop online as places are limited.

Note on booking:

To book click here

  1. Click on tickets
  2. Select a ticket
  3. Click on checkout
  4. Having filled in your details scroll down to see the Sunday walk options
  5. Scroll further down to see the workshop options and the Friday walk option. These are free but they need to be booked.

Please note that all maps given below are for illustration only and should NOT be used for navigation purposes.

Programme of Events

Friday October 18th

Why not start the weekend with a short informal walk with members of Kilmacthomas Walking Club. When registering online please select “additional options”  to let leaders know you will be attending. (See note on booking above.) You can meet members for lunch at the Coach House in Kilmacthomas for 1pm and from there they will hike up Croughan Hill.  Walk will start at 2:15

18:30 – Registration in the lobby area of The Park Hotel. There is a bar area/restaurant in the hotel to grab something to eat when you arrive.

19:30 – Opening of the Gathering by Paul Kellagher President of Mountaineering Ireland and a welcome by Con Murphy, Chairperson of Kilmacthomas Walking Club.

Guest Speaker

Mountaineering Ireland is delighted to announce that recently-elected Green Party MEP, Grace O’Sullivan will be our guest speaker

Saturday October 19th

Variety of walks and workshops departing from the Park Hotel. Please ensure you have walking gear for all weathers with you including hiking boots with good ankle support as the terrain on some of the walks is steep and can be challenging. Walkers should also take a packed lunch with them on all walks We have given an indication of the level of difficulty of each walk below, however, please read the description to choose one which is more appropriate for you. (See note on booking above.)

Choose from any one of the 9 walks numbered 1 – 8 and the Environment Walk indicated below:

08.45                     Assemble in the foyer of The Park Hotel Dungarvan for departure to the trailheads.

Please note that all maps given below are for illustration only and should NOT be used for navigation purposes.

18.30                           Mountaineering Member’s Forum – Dining Room The Park Hotel

The member’s forum is open to all MI members whether you are attending the entire weekend of activities or not. This is an open forum led by the Chairperson and CEO of Mountaineering Ireland. It is an opportunity to air any concerns or queries with the Board, staff and other members either individually or on behalf of your member club. It can also be used as an information sharing facility. Topics discussed are generally of interest to all individuals and clubs so we would encourage as many of those attending the Autumn Gathering as possible to come to the member’s forum and feedback to your member club afterwards.

20.00                          Dinner in dining room, The Park Hotel

Sunday October 20th

There will be a variety of workshops available from 10:00 to 13:00 on Sunday morning. Please choose from the options below and make sure to include them when booking online.

  1. OSI Mapping Discussion – The Park Hotel

This workshop will allow map enthusiast provide suggestions to some of OSi new adventure series maps. This is an opportunity to ensure that the maps cater for hillwalkers and Mountaineering Ireland will then feedback suggestions from our members to Ordnance Survey.

2.                         Access Discussion

                            The discussion will be led by Helen Lawless, Mountaineering Ireland’s Hillwalking, Access & Conservation Officer and will include discussion on current access concerns and future developments.

3.                                Club Training Workshop

This workshop will be a mixture of indoor learning and practical outdoor sessions. Initially we will look at some suggested models for in-club training and what resources are available from Mountaineering Ireland to support club training. The outdoor session will focus on practical tips for teaching navigation, movement and leadership along with how to introduce training into your regular walAs always, there is the option to walk or climb independently on Sunday morning.

There will be an organised walk from Durrow to Dungarvan along the Greenway which will leave the Park Hotel at 10am. and will include a chat from a local historian on the story behind the railway and its role in the social history of the area

13.00                          Gathering Ends