For Your Ice Only

For Your Ice Only

(by Gerry Moss – April 2013)
Winter conditions in the Ravens Glen, Glencee

It’s been an odd spell of cold weather. Usually, and frustratingly, when there are good conditions on the hills, the roads are in rag order, creating all kind of problems in getting to the mountains and often, by the time the roads are passable, conditions have deteriorated. But not this time. Freezing level seems to have come not much lower than the 400m mark, leaving the roads clear. One of the features of the current spell of cold weather is the amount of cloud cover – we have had very few, if any, clear starry nights along the east coast. The various mountain weather websites show this up well, with only a small variation between day and night temperatures, with the higher tops hovering around freezing level all the time. A bit more freeze and thaw would make snow conditions perfect.

The post by Tony and Dermot on Lough Bray conditions brought to mind another area close to home that sometimes provides a mornings sport. Many of our older members will be familiar with Ravens Glen and the short series of waterfalls known as O’Toole’s Buttermilk on the Ballyreagh Brook, but younger members may not be aware of this potential playground, as it only comes into condition every now and then (it was here that the late Frank Winder had his last outing on ice, on a bitterly cold day). Ravens Glen is the short glen dropping down towards Glencree from the eastern slopes of Tonduff mountain. Being only a short drive from Dublin it is often approachable when the roads to more remote areas are in a dangerous state and it can provide a good fallback on those occasions.

The glen, though short, is no pushover. It flattens out just before meeting the forest road and this flat stretch is invariably under water. Approach from directly above is dog rough too, and best avoided. The handiest approach is via a network of paths through the woods on the north side of the glen. These paths start from a small carpark about 500m north of Ballyreagh bridge. I paid a visit the other morning to see if anything was on, but the falls just missed the cut as will be seen from the photos below.

I was surprised to see that the Glen never made it into the Bouldering in Ireland guide, as there are several interesting boulders scattered about the area. Adjacent to the falls is a series of outcrops and buttresses know as O’Toole’s Rocks and these might provide a few rock routes after a period of dry weather

In good conditions the short waterfall immediately above the lowest patch of snow is usually frozen.

Almost, but not quite.