Just four of us met at Firgrove Hotel for the wet and misty morning promised by the Met Office. We headed to the high carpark on Monabrac, en route noting traffic heading for King’s Yard where IMRA mountain runners had a testing Galtees event. Setting-off at 10.25 in raingear we descended westwards from Monabrac to Pigeonrock river and then upstream bearing left of Knockaterriff. Ground conditions were still very firm after the prolonged drought and taking advantage of the low water level we crossed the stream and began a laborious ascent into the cloudbase and the unseen ridge which was reached about 11.45 and our first rest for a quick cuppa. Easier progress northward along the ridge in the mild wet misty conditions with a gentle SE tailwind until at 12.45 we had arrived at Temple Hill and a sheltered lunch stop in lee of the summit cairn at 785 metres. Still nothing visible of our surrounding hills and I decided against the direct but steep and slippery descent eastwards to the 600 metre col below Knockaterriff. Instead we descended northwards for five minutes then veering to our right but still descending over relatively easy ground of long grass and heather and avoiding occasional boulder patches. Still seeing no sign of the invisible col or other hills we halted after 40 minutes to review our situation and to admit that we were technically lost as we didn’t know our exact position. However we were certain we could only be on the eastern side of Templehill and by distance covered we had to be above the level of the col and Pigeonrock valley. We continued descending SE but more steeply and eventually could see the valley and stream appear out of the mist. A GPS confirmed our down valley position as just above our morning stream crossing. The remainder of our trek retraced the morning’s route and we were back at the car park at 3pm wet but surprisingly satisfied.
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