Lovely Leitrim

(by Gerry Moss, October 2010)
A day-trip to the gritstone crag of Cloch an tSagairt.

With the Met men promising gloom and doom for the East coast, and a cool northeasterly wind to boot, it seemed like a good time to introduce Joe to the delights of Lovely Leitrim. This is a much neglected county but, along with its neighbouring county, Cavan, it does boast of some gritstone crags.

Gritstone is a wonderful medium for climbers, as anyone who has climbed in the Peak Disrict can verify, but unlike the crags in that area, which have become highly polished on the more popular routes, the gritstone crags of Cavan and Leitrim are still as nature made them, and a delight to climb on. Leitrim has the advantage over Cavan inasmuch as the crags of Cloch an tSagairt and Carrignahasta face south and catch any sun that is going, whereas the Playbank, which is just across the county boundary, on the back of the same hill, faces northwest and is cool at the best of times, and slow to dry after rain.

So, for Joe’s first visit, Cloch an tSagairt was the target. What with the greatly improved network of roads leading out of Dublin, making travel to other areas quite feasible, nowadays it is always worth while thinking outside the box. We left the Red Cow at 8am and were in Carrick-on-Shannon in jigtime. Developed during the 1990’s by Terry, Emily, Liam and myself, it is all of ten years since I was last at this crag, and there have been many changes to the forestry plantations on the final approach, but we eventually sussed things out. The crag is very reminiscent of similar low gritstone edges in the Peak District, and what it lacks in height it makes up for in quality.

It gives some good, steep, face climbs, often on small flat holds, with excellent friction and, in addition, there are some testing overhangs, calling for a resolute approach and a modicum of gung-ho.

All very enjoyable, and all against the background of lovely Lough Allen and the distant Sligo hills.

Joe was very pleased with our trip and vows to return.