The Glendahurk Horseshoe, Mayo

Wilderness on the wild Atlantic way
The Glendahurk Horseshoe
Dark sky park, see dark sky Ireland.
Ballycroy National Park and wilderness area. .
     So me and a few pals from the Sligo Mountaineering Club, a very positive bunch of folks I've been actively involved with for the last number of years took off for one of our typical Sunday hikes. This time to the
Clew Bay on the wild Atlantic way
Croagh Patrick across Clew Bay
Glendahurk horseshoe which was a 1st for me, but had been on the to do list, sort of anyway. I'd not heard of the horseshoe but had definitely looked at the ridge walk at the back of it on a map before, and thought yes, that looks like fun. It didn't disappoint.
      To get there head to Newport and from there head for Achill Island, but just 8.5 km outside Newport is a small side road on your right. This will take you on a near straight road up toward the west flank of the route where you can park by an old farm building and a river, being careful not to block the road or any gates, Or if not enough room just open the gate on the bridge to park up by the picnic area, ready, steady, start hiking.
Some of the rare fauna you can expect to see on days like this.
Just choose whether to go clockwise or anticlockwise and prevailing weather and forecast will often decide which one to choose if prudent and wise. We're expecting rain, maybe heavy but are prepped for this. We've a good team with us,a few seasoned members. A nice moderate warm up hike and an easy gradual ascent. Conditions underfoot are terrific after a recent dry spell so not too mushy and great visibility. Air show on across the bay today, thought we might have seen some of the planes turning, but nothing there to be seen or heard from our particular location. Strong winds but so maybe some of em are grounded.
`Rugged Landscape
      Still,we'd our own light show and I could really sit and watch the light and shadows chase each other across the landscape for hours while contemplating the many mysteries and intricacies of the universe, same as a lot of other folk I know.
     We find a nice spot, sheltered from the westerly wind, for a break as usual,  and we're off again, and not long till we find ourselves on that ridge I was so looking forward to. Right it's just a short wee stretch but these can be challenging enough and dangerous too if inexperienced. But a change is as good as a rest as they say and I just love getting my hands onto some rock for a bit, and some exposure. If carrying walking poles, it's usually best to put em away when on this terrain I find, it frees up your hands to allow you to grab better.
A gnarly looking stretch of the ridge
 Not every one is feels at home on this terrain, but the thing is not to rush it sometimes, and only move when feeling comfortable to do so. Remembering also that there's often two or three ways to get past an obstacle so slow down and look at it from different angles if possible. Knowing your own limitations and abilities to transfer your center of gravity and balance is good too. There's certain exercises you can do to improve this.A little flexibility helps of course, and this day I heard a wise hiker advise a teammate, who was having some difficulty, to remember to breath. I thought YES, why didn't I think of saying that. Sometimes folk tend to hold their breath for some reason when focusing on something difficult or are just plain distracted. So between the three of us we overcame this object and headed on to catch up with the rest.
I hope tha rock don’t roll
     The sights are just stunning and we can see rain on the horizons here and there, all around us in between the light flecked landscape, but still none came near us thankfully. We stop to take some snaps, and always conversing. politics, mechanics, holidays, flora and fauna surrounding us, dreams, Kerry men, always the banter going on, making plans for the future. Others a bit off to the side reflecting, in their own universe at times. A good way to spend the day.       Gotta keep moving but. Gather no moss like a rolling stone.
     So it's nearly all downhill from here, and this next spot is just that. Feels good not to be fighting against gravity for a bit on an easy slope, and we're going to get hit by a shower, can see it rolling towards us from across the bay so lots of time to
Real picture postcard landscape
grab waterproofs if opting to do so. I did, and it was just a splash really before it ended and the sun re-appeared, still you never know. We also discussed as we often do about weight carried in bags, necessities and whatnot, On this hike I chose not to carry water, everyone else was carrying one liter minimum, plus their flask of tea. The tea I had, and after checking the map and route, where to find a river, I'd a filter bottle with me to grab on the go if thirsty, and made sure as I always do to ensure I'm well hydrated before leaving the car. Lots of guys wouldn't agree with this, but it works for some. I recently tried it on the Glover challenge too in County Donegal and found it
A nice gradual descent before our last climb.
worked quite well. If you can carry less weight you'll not tire as quickly because you're using less energy to carry it. 
     We've one last hurdle to get by this day, and it's a 220m hurdle, till we're on the home straight and headed for the dinner in Grainne Uaille, a lovely pub doing great food in Newport, so I think thoughts of this spurred some on and we're over it in no time. I find my river to get a drink and we're homeward bound. Skipping down the meadow surround by natures wonders and delights. Will be back for longer maybe soon I hope. Into the cars and to Newport and The Graine Uaille pub, named after a famous pirate queen who was one of the last to hold out against the English rule in the 1700s. The food here's top notch and I go for the lasagne with all the trimmings, but who needs extra parmesan when it comes smothered in pesto, yum, and a pint of Guinness. Just what the doctor ordered after a long days' climbing.

 Elevation/descent- 1040m over 14k and 6hr 7min.
Milkwort, named as they believed cows grazing where this abounds, would have a higher milk yeild.
Hare tailed bog cotton.
This was soon polished off too. Lipsmckin good.