Up and over Black Mountain in the Cooleys
I had a morning training event in Dundalk at the end of March (yes, I’m way behind dates in posting here), the weather forecast was great, so of course I took my bike with me. By 2.30 I was at Ravensdale Park in the Cooley Mountains in glorious sunshine. I decided to do a little singletrack around the forest, then climb the 508 metre summit of Black Mountain to look for trails I’d been told about on a previous visit, then descend on an old track that runs down to Anaverna townland and back to Ravensdale. On my way I found the first primrose I’d seen this year.
There is some singletrack in the forest, some seems purpose built for mountain biking, I presume by a local club. But the climb following the Tain Way long distance walk is a long tough ascent on forest roads. The sheep here still have their winter coats and oddly enough don’t have any lambs – I saw dozens of lambs in Wicklow the previous Sunday. Maybe northern sheep are most distrustful of Spring? Whatever the reason, they looked very hot and bothered.
The summit of Black Mountain is heavily disfigured with modern masts. I prefer the more modest megalithic tomb called that marks the highest point at 508 metres. From the top, an old farm track runs east along the ridge and then descends down to the townland of Anavarna.
Once over the top, there are a choice of trails, many of which look impassible when boggy. I decided to loop back down to Ravensdale.
Although sunny, there was a haze over the hills making the horizon invisible. A gorse fire on one of the hills made it look like a smoking volcano.
On the way down, along a beautiful grassy trail, there is what I think is a 19th century set of fake megalithic tombs, probably a landlords folly.
The way back to the car took a lot longer than expected. I was having trouble changing gears when all of a sudden everything seized up. For the second time since I got the bike, the gear hanger had snapped (I suspect from a bang I gave the bike when loading onto the car). The chain got caught in the rear so I couldn’t even roll the bike. I had to carry it down, hide it in a ditch, then drive back to pick it up. Awkward, but still a very nice ride. There are lots more trails in the area worth exploring I think so I’ll be back.