Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Dooish - iPod Required
Date First Walked: November 13th 2009
Range: Derryveagh Mountains
Classification: Dillon, Hewitt, Mailyn
Height: 652 metres
My Dillon Count: 19
Having completed a very enjoyable walk of Muckish, I found myself quickly slipping back into a lazy state of mind back in the car and was in two minds as to whether or not to bother with Dooish. I took a drive out towards the mountain and decided that given that I was in the area and had some spare time on my hands, I might as well give it a go.
Compared to Errigal and Muckish, it's hard to get excited about climbing Dooish. The mountain stands at 652 metres, just a mere 14 metres lower than Muckish. However, from the R251, it appears merely as a hump along the ridge running from Maumlack to Saggartnadooish. From certain angles, Dooish looks quite like a dorsal fin rising gently from the surrounding sea of brown hills. In any case, it was deemed good enough by Paddy Dillon to qualify for inclusion in 'The Mountains of Ireland' so I was going to have to climb it at some stage.
To reach the base of the mountain, take the R251 towards Dunlewy. A few miles after the turn off for Falcarragh, you will see a pull-in point on a straight stretch of road which provides space for parking.
The walk is immediately hard-going over heavy boggy and tussocky ground and I found that the best approach is to keep to whatever high humps and bumps that can be found. There are a few streams to be crossed along the way and after passing under a power line, I had to remove my back-pack to squeeze through the strands of a deer fence. I'm not sure if this fence was to keep the deer in or out but having seen deer earlier in the day at the foot of Muckish, I saw a large group high on the slopes of Dooish which lies on the opposite side of the fence.
View from the upper slopes of Dooish
View across to the bulk of Muckish from close to the summit of Dooish
The direct line to Dooish is blocked by a small cliff so I picked a path up the east side of the mountain aiming for a gap above the col between Saggartnadooish and Dooish itself. I can only describe Dooish as something of a slog, the ground is boggy underfoot and very steep in places. Dooish is one of those mountains which makes you question your motives for hillwalking as it pulls and drags at your calf muscles with every step upwards. Around halfway up, I threw on my iPod partially to lift my mood but mainly to stop me from constantly reminding myself that I could by now be back at the hotel enjoying a hot shower.
Once more, I had the mountain to myself and I didn't see a single other walker during my time away frmo the car. The only brief company I had was higher up the mountain was I was suprised to see a field-mouse scurrying through some heather.
Eventually, the obvious slope leading to the summit came into view and after a short climb in a south-westerly direction, the boggy ground gave way to glorious rock and I reached the welcoming beehive cairn as Morrissey belted out 'Everyday is like Sunday' in my ear. I couldn't help myself but sing along. Despite it's relative lack of height and the fact that it's a short walk, reaching the summit of Dooish felt very rewarding for some reason.
At the beehive cairn marking the summit of Dooish
Summit cairn and shelter with Errigal and Mackoght in the background
The views from the summit are excellent running from Muckish to the north-east across to Aghla Beg then Aghla More and Errigal divided by Altan Lough and then on across the Glenveagh National Park. Not wanting to face back into the boggy ground I'd climbed up, I set off in a south-westerly direction swinging north at the col to take me back towards the road. Just off the summit is a small weather station of some kind with a data-logger attached, it's small turbine spinning frantically in the prevailing wind. There is some steep and slab-ridden ground to be encountered on the way down but with a bit of care, a route can be picked back down offering great views of Errigal all the way.
Small weather station just below the summit
Descending Dooish opens up views towards Errigal, Makoght, Altan Lough and Aghla More
View across to the Aghlas (More and Beg) on the descent
View from the lower slopes of Dooish
It's a short walk along the road (with great views to Errigal) back to the parking spot
All in all, a tougher climb than it looks mainly due to the steep and boggy ground which probably wasn't helped by heavy rain during the previous week. Despite this, it's a rewarding walk and a good way to get an alternative view of the surrounding hills. Just remember to bring the iPod!