Hiking unexpectedly to Lough Curra / Randonnée inattendue à Lough Curra

Glen of Aherlow, Tipperary, Ireland, Irlande, Galtee, Lough Curra, hiking, family, adventure, great outdoors, mountains, montagnes, plein air, randonnee, famille, father and son, père et fils

The mountains are calling and I must go.

John Muir

Indeed, the Galtee Mountains were calling, and we did go.

From our campsite in the Glen of Aherlow, Ireland’s highest inland mountain range loomed tantalizingly over the lush Tipperary countryside. Tantalizing, and out of reach. Although a walk was in order for our first camping weekend of the year, we were missing a few essentials to go on a proper family hike – water bottles, sufficient food, Brian’s backpack, and our trusty MSR® stove to cook noddles by the trail.

Lisvernane’s Dolmen Loop Walk was a possible option. The woodland trails in the nearby Nature Park were another. But we decided nonetheless to drive to the trail head for the Lough Curra walks. Just to check it out.

Little did we know we would make it all the way to Lough Curra, the highest of five glacial lakes in the Galtees. 


Les montagnes m’appellent, et je dois partir.

John Muir

En effet, les monts Galtee nous appelaient, et nous sommes partis.

De notre camping dans le Glen of Aherlow, les sommets du massif culminant de l’Irlande intérieure dominaient la campagne verdoyante de Tipperary. Si proches, et pourtant inaccessibles. Certes, notre premier weekend en camping de l’année aurait été incomplet sans balade dans les environs, mais il nous manquait quelques accessoires indispensables à une vraie randonnée familiale : gourdes, provisions, le sac à dos de Brian et notre fidèle réchaud MSR® pour faire cuire des nouilles instantanées. 

La boucle du Dolmen au départ de Lisvernane était une option. De même que les sentiers forestiers du Nature Park voisin. L’embarras du choix. Il fut décidé néanmoins d’aller en voiture jusqu’au départ du sentier pour Lough Curra. Juste pour voir.

Nous étions loin de penser atteindre Lough Curra, un des cinq lacs glaciaires des monts Galtee.

Instead of setting off with half-empty stomachs, we had the obligatory noodles at the back of the car, at the Glencush Boreen car park. This being the Glen of Aherlow’s Summer Walking Festival, countless hikers walked past us. One car continued on the wide forest road, which prompted us to drive further.

As luck would have it, this decision shortened our hike by some 3 kilometres (2 miles).


Au lieu de démarrer avec le ventre à moitié vide, nous avons mangé les nouilles à l’arrière de la voiture, sur le parking de Glencush Boreen. Le festival de randonnée du Glen of Aherlow ayant lieu ce weekend-là, une douzaine de marcheurs prirent le départ. Une voiture poursuivit son chemin sans s’arrêter au parking, ce qui nous poussa à rouler un peu plus loin, une fois notre pique-nique terminé. 

Au final, cette décision improviste nous épargna trois bons kilomètres de marche.

We went as far as the Saunders Lodge T-junction, where two vehicles were parked near a signpost which promisingly read Lough Curra shortcut.

‘Lough Curra? It’s about 40 minutes from here’, a walker assured us before heading off along the track.

As the rain started, then turned into a downpour, we changed into our hiking clothes and boots, sheltering under the boot door. Mermaid and Pebbles put on their brand new Puddlegear waterproofs for the first time.

Thankfully it was to be the last shower of the day. By the time we hit the trail, the rain had stopped.


Deux véhicules étaient stationnés au carrefour de Saunders Lodge, où un panneau prometteur annonçait : Raccourci de Lough Curra.

“Lough Curra ? Il faut compter une quarantaine de minutes”, nous assura un randonneur avant de s’éloigner sur le sentier.

Comme la pluie commençait à tomber, devenant battante au bout de quelques minutes, nous avons enfilé nos vêtements et chaussures de randonnée, à l’abri sous le coffre de la voiture. Sirène et Caillou portaient leurs nouveaux ensembles imperméables Puddlegear pour la première fois. 

Glen of Aherlow, Tipperary, Ireland, Irlande, Galtee, Lough Curra, hiking, family, adventure, great outdoors, mountains, montagnes, plein air, randonnee, famille, wood sorrel, clover, oseille, trèfle

Wood sorrel / Oseille des bois

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Four leaf clover / Trèfle à quatre feuilles

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Following two handy shortcuts built by Mountain Meitheal volunteers through the evergreen plantation, we climbed over a stile and emerged onto the open moorland of the mountain slopes. The trail went straight ahead up the grassy knoll.

Halfway up we had a first pit stop under the windswept canopy of an ancient hawthorn tree. Its branches were buzzing with bees gathering pollen from its fading white flowers.


Empruntant deux coursières aménagées par des bénévoles de Mountain Meitheal dans la plantation de conifères, nous avons émergé sur les versants marécageux des monts Galtee. Le sentier montait tout droit jusqu’au sommet d’une petite butte.

A mi-chemin, la première pause casse-croûte s’effectua sous les branches sculptées par le vent d’une vieille aubépine. La canopée résonnait du bourdonnement constant des abeilles butinant les fleurs blanches fanées.

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Huffing and puffing we reached the large boulder at the top of the knoll. The steepest section of the hike was over.

All around, the rounded summits of the Galtees, polished by millennia of glacial erosion, soared, bleak and abrupt, above the mountain pastures, dotted with sheep grazing on the meagre grass. Down below, the lush fields and thick forests of the Glen of Aherlow stretched their rolling green patchwork into the distance.


Hors d’haleine, nous avons finalement atteint le gros rocher au sommet de la butte. La partie la plus escarpée de la randonnée était derrière nous.

Tout autour, les sommet arrondis des monts Galtee, polis par la glace pendant des millénaires, se dressaient, austères et abrupts, au-dessus des pâturages de montagnes, ponctués çà et là par des moutons broutant l’herbe rase. En contrebas, les champs verdoyants et les forêts épaisses du Glen of Aherlow déroulaient leur patchwork en camaïeu de verts.

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The Old Ice Road was used to draw turf from the mountain and also supposedly to draw ice to the great houses in the area.

From there the trail veers sharply to the left, along the Old Ice Road. The ancient track cuts flat across the mountain slope, before heading up haphazardly through glacial scree all the way to Lough Curra’s shore.

Playing hide-and-seek in this stark landscape of short grass and loose rocks is nearly impossible. The acorns kept themselves entertained with rushes, twisting and plaiting the tough stalks into stick characters, crosses, and even airplanes. 


L’ancienne route de glace était naguère utilisée pour la récolte de tourbe sur la montagne, mais aussi pour approvisionner en glace les maisons bourgeoises de la région.

De la butte, le sentier vire à gauche pour suivre l’ancienne route de glace. Cette sente coupe à plat le flanc de la montagne, avant de tracer un chemin incertain dans les éboulis glaciaires jusqu’au rivage de Lough Curra.

Jouer à cache-cache dans ce paysage austère d’herbe rase et de rocaille est quasiment impossible. Aussi les graines de chêne se sont-elles occupé avec des joncs, tressant et nouant les tiges dures pour en faire des personnages, des croix et même des avions.

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Always striding well ahead, Jedi reached Lough Curra first. Against a backdrop of tall rocky cliffs, its olive green waters, ruffled by the wind, shimmered in the short-lived sunny spells. The silence was deafening, only broken by the bleat of a sheep or the shriek of a bird. 

A tarn (or corrie loch) is a mountain lake or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier. It is formed when either rain or river water fills the cirque.

Wikipedia

At an altitude of 578 metres (1,896ft), Lough Curra is the highest of five corrie lakes in the Galtees. Bounded by the sheer cliffs of Galtymore (alt. 919m/3,018ft), it is dammed by a rough moraine through which the Clydagh River flows. Its depth was estimated at 35 metres (115ft) during a 2011 dive by the Blackwater Sub Aqua Club.

Lough Curra is only fed by rainwater, yet there is fish in its dark depths. Spotting small circles rippling on the surface, Brian wondered out loud where wildlife originally came from in a remote mountain lake such as this. As it turns out, this remains an unsolved mystery.

Spying a tiny beach, the acorns promptly forded the stream on stepping stones. There were gasps and squeals as they dipped their warm toes in the numbingly cold water – this is a glacial lake after all! 


Jedi, toujours en tête, arriva au lac le premier. Avec en toile de fond les hautes falaises du cirque, les eaux olive de Lough Curra, froissées par le vent, étincelaient au soleil des brèves éclaircies. Le silence était assourdissant, seulement brisé par le bêlement rauque d’un mouton ou le cri strident d’un oiseau.

Un lac glaciaire est un lac qui occupe un creux  résultant de l’érosion par un glacier. Un lac se forme quand le cirque se remplit d’eau de pluie ou de ruissellement. 

A une altitude de 578 mètres, Lough Curra est le plus élevé des cinq lacs glaciaires des monts Galtee. Cerné par les falaises du mont Galtymore (alt. 919 mètres), il est fermé par une moraine par laquelle la rivière Clydagh s’écoule. Sa profondeur a été estimée à 35 mètres environ par une équipe du club de plongée sous-marine Blackwater Sub Aqua Club.

Lough Curra n’est alimenté que par les eaux de pluie, pourtant des poissons vivent dans ses eaux sombres. Repérant des cercles concentriques à la surface de l’eau, Brian se demanda comment la faune aquatique s’est implantée dans un lac de montagne aussi isolé. A dire vrai, cela reste un mystère.

A la vue d’une petite plage de cailloux, les graines de chêne traversèrent la rivière à gué. Il y eut des halètements et des gémissements comme leurs orteils bien chauds s’engourdissaient instantanément au contact de l’eau froide. Après tout, il s’agit d’un lac glaciaire !

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Seeking respite from the cold water, Pebbles and Squirrel stood on a large boulder. Binoculars in hand, they searched for the bird insistently calling from the far side of the lough.

Barefoot, Brian and Mermaid walked along the lake shore. No shoes needed. The soft wet grass felt like a warm rug underfoot. Indeed it was so spongy that the acorns had a foot bath in the mud, merrily treading and stomping on the squishy turf.   

‘I am the boss!’ Pebbles shouted.
Located as it is in a cirque, Lough Curra is the perfect place to experiment with acoustics. The acorns excitedly played with the echo of their own voices against the cliffs, noticing how it didn’t work when the wind blew.

We had the place to ourselves, and we spent well over an hour savouring the sensory delights of this unique spot.


S’offrant quelques minutes de répit, Ecureuil et Caillou grimpèrent sur un gros rocher plat. Jumelles à la main, ils cherchèrent l’oiseau qui appelait incessamment sur la rive opposée.

Pieds nus, Brian et Sirène s’éloignèrent sur le rivage. Nul besoin de chaussures. L’herbe douce et mouillée formait comme un tapis tiède sous les pieds. Le sol était si spongieux que les graines de chêne s’offrirent un bain de pied dans la boue, foulant joyeusement la tourbe moelleuse. 

“Je suis le boss !” cria Caillou.
Le cirque dans lequel se trouve Lough Curra est l’endroit idéal pour expérimenter avec l’acoustique. Les graines de chêne jouèrent longuement avec l’écho de leurs propres voix sur les falaises ; la réverbération sonore s’interrompait quand le vent soufflait.

Nous étions seuls sur les bords du lac, et nous avons passé plus d’une heure à savourer les plaisirs sensoriels de ce lieu unique.

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It was time to head back down again, before our meagre food supplies ran out. As more walkers came up to the lake shore, the acorns sauntered down the rocky trail.

With stomachs beginning to rumble, the descent was much quicker than the hike up. Still, Brian and Pebbles paused for a few minutes to enjoy the stunning views from the top of a large erratic boulder. Further down, all four acorns rolled about in the rushes lining the trail, trying to flatten them as best they could. Finally, on reaching the forest again, a game of hide-and-seek started – the day would not have been complete without it.


Finalement l’heure se fit de redescendre, avant que nos maigres victuailles ne s’épuisent. Comme d’autres marcheurs arrivaient au lac, les graines de chêne dévalèrent le sentier rocailleux.

Les estomacs commençaient à gronder, aussi la descente fut-elle beaucoup plus rapide que l’ascension. Brian et Caillou prirent néanmoins quelques minutes pour admirer la vue époustouflante du haut d’un rocher erratique. Plus bas, les graines de chêne se roulèrent dans les joncs pour les aplatir. Enfin, en entrant dans la forêt, une partie de cache-cache débuta, sans laquelle la journée aurait été incomplète.

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This adventure came about rather unexpectedly. Reaching wild, remote Lough Curra and enjoying barefoot its earthly delights filled us with unforgettable memories, and a sense of gratitude that overflowed well into the following days.  

Needless to say, we all had one of our best night sleeps under canvas after this awesome family hike! 


Cettte aventure s’est produite de façon inattendue. Monter jusqu’au sauvage Lough Curra et découvrir pieds nus ses charmes terre-à-terre nous a remplis de souvenirs inoubliables et d’un sentiment de profonde reconnaissance qui déborda sur les jours suivants.

Inutile de dire que nous avons ensuite passé une de nos meilleures nuits sous la toile après cette fantastique randonnée familiale !

Visitor information

Glen of Aherlow Fáilte
Tel. +353 062 56331
Email info@aherlow.com

The Glen of Aherlow, Tipperary’s most attractive and scenic holiday destination, is a lush valley where the River Aherlow runs between the Galtee Mountains and the wooded ridge of Slievenamuck. Bounded by the rural villages of Bansha and Galbally, the Glen was historically an important pass between Limerick and Tipperary.
The map for the Lough Curra walks is available online and almost everywhere in the area. The Glen hosts two annual Walking Festivals, during which experienced members of the Galtee Walking Club offer guided walks and hikes in the region.
The Glen also offers many opportunities for walking, rambling, horseriding, cycling and fishing. With a variety of prehistoric and early Christian sites, the Glen of Aherlow is also part of Ireland’s Ancient East.


En savoir plus

Glen of Aherlow Fáilte
Tel. +353 062 56331
Email info@aherlow.com

Le splendide Glen of Aherlow, Co Tipperary, est une vallée verdoyante qui s’étire entre les monts Galtee et le versant boisé de Slievenamuck. Délimité par les villages de Bansha et Galbally à chacune de ses extrémités, le Glen était jadis un important passage entre les comtés de Tipperary et Limerick. 
Le plan des deux randonnées de Lough Curra est disponible en ligne et dans la plupart des commerces de la région. Le Glen of Aherlow accueille deux festivals annuels de randonnée, durant lesquels des membres du club de randonnée proposent des marches guidées.
Avec ses nombreux sites préhistoriques et médiévaux, le Glen fait également partie des Terres ancestrales d’Irlande.

 

 

 

Potty AdventuresdiaryofanimperfectmumCountry Kids  ethannevelyn.com
Suitcases and Sandcastles

16 Responses to “Hiking unexpectedly to Lough Curra / Randonnée inattendue à Lough Curra

  • I’ve loved seeing all your wonderful Instagram posts from here this week. What incredible scenery, well worth the walk and how lucky to just miss the rain too. Your children have a great sense of adventure, I love how they created with the tough grasses at the top and made their own entertainment. I do think numbers helps with this, my own are pretty good with each other for ideas and company. I bet the water felt cold on their toes, but dipping them was a must!

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids
    Fiona Cambouropoulos recently posted…Special moments from the farm

    • Thank you Fiona for this lovely comment, and for featuring one of these pics on Instagram! I agree with you that numbers help re ideas and company – they never seem to get bored when out and about! Here’s to large families 😉

  • Gorgeous photos, the views must have been amazing from up there.
    The Princess and The Pickle recently posted…A year in photos: 18th June 2017

  • This is so wonderful – again!! It is so true that the best days out, the most unforgettable experiences, are often completely unplanned and spontaneous. The spirit shown by the Acorns was rewarded by reaching that beautiful lake, and I adore the way that you had it all to yourselves. It’s strange but our kids inevitably do exactly the same thing as yours upon reaching a place like that – off come the shoes and socks!!! Quite often we just continue our hikes barefoot (actually I have a post half-drafted about that somewhere…). And finally, of course, BRILLIANT photography. Love love love this – greetings from Luxembourg. #CountryKids
    Jonny (daisythebus) recently posted…Off the beaten track in Champagne

    • Thank you so much for this great comment, Jonny! I love reading about your wonderful off the beaten tracks travels, so this comment means a lot.
      I guess we reached the lake early enough in the day, hence having it all to ourselves. The acorns are drawn to the water, wherever we go, and it was a great bonus to walk barefoot on the squishy grass. We won’t forget about this place for a long time…

  • What a truly stunning area to explore, reminds me of the Lake District over here, beautiful #CountryKids

  • What a wonderful hike. The views are stunning. I love the photos of your four little acorns on the stepping stones and dipping their feet in the cold water! I can imagine it must have been freezing! #countrykids

  • Those pictures are just breathtaking! What stunning views.
    Motherof3 recently posted…Homeschooling Through the Alphabet: W is for Waiting

  • I love the quotes you use in your posts and that photo of the four leaved clovers is gorgeous. Ireland is certainly a wonderful place to explore. #CountryKids

  • The scenery is stunning your photos are amazing. I could have stopped for hours and taken it all in. Having never explored this area before its one we will have to put on our list for the future. Thank you for sharing xx #CountryKids

  • Unplanned adventures often turn out to be the best days out, there is nothing more thrilling than getting lost (within reason of course), especially for experiencing something new or unexpected. #adventurecalling
    Ashley Crombet-Beolens recently posted…Butterfly and Dragonfly Walk

  • Ok, I’m packing my bags.When do you go next?

  • How amazing is that place, stunning pictures and a perfect kids playground to play in. Rocks, water and hills! Perfect!

  • Bless they did look a little chilly in that water. I used to love having picnics in the boot of the car, although we never had noodles, just boring old sandwiches. What an absolutely fabulous outing, those hills are seriously impressive and your photos just stunning. Thank you for sharing at #familyfun
    Tammymum recently posted…Bringing The Outside In; Summer Kitchen Ideas For Any Kitchen

  • great pictures. Looks like an awesome adventure #familyfun

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