As we approached the turn-off to Orbost House, both summits were still in cloud, but with the forecasts set to improve we pressed on. Very heavy rain the previous two days was going to make things tough, we knew, but as yet we had not counted on the strength of the wind. We decided to the follow the suggested clockwise route, although in hindsight would reverse it for the next time.
Parking by the gate, we headed through it and then wondered where to strike left to follow the ravine line. Answer is at the newish deer fence, leaving it to the left, which takes you through boggy ground to a muddy point where the valley flattens and a swing gate into the fenced-off ravine area. Leaving that to our left, we headed up the small stream and then struck diagonally left, climbing on rough ground to find a faint path, on and up to the ridge. While this is a rough walk throughout, there are visible routes in places to guide the way and sticking to the high ground is the best guiding principle. This was a slog though and my advice would be to be conscious about recent rainfall before attempting this walk. Once we gained the ridge, the strength of the wind became apparent and any hat not secured by a strap was soon off, spinning and bouncing across the bog. Our ridiculously sumptuous breakfast was burning off fast as we fought for higher ground against sucking mud, the gradient and a steady 40 mph wind from the west. The conditions made us feel heroic at first and then became rather trying. After two hours or so, we were with almost touching distance of the southern table, with its foreboding buttress rising above us like the prow of a great ship. The gradient increased sharply and a particularly strong gust had one of our party sprawling on the grass, which was funny on this terrain, but raised some concerns about the steep and rocky ground above, not helped by the table cloth of cloud, which had still not cleared. We pressed on, but confidence was wobbling for the less experienced in the group and so after gaining the base of the buttress, we decided to call it quits and retrace our steps. As Luck would have it, an hour into our return, the cloud lifted and the sun came out. Grrrr! But it was till an epic few hours in the hills with great views across the island and out to sea. Such a beautiful spot. We will definitely return and do it properly, but be more mindful of the right weather. The reason for wanting to share this non-completion was just that. This is a must-do walk, but one to do in decent viz and being mindful of exposure to the wind. It really does whack in across the Atlantic. Perhaps because these hills are low we adjusted our normal risk assessment and rules of the road, but wrongly so. We’ll be back - and you should go. Have fun.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.