About five years ago I brought Ruth for a hike to the top of the Knockmealdown Mountains in my home land. She absolutely loved it so we decided to go on a few mountain hikes when we were home for Christmas . I spent a lot of my childhood herding sheep on the mountains for my grandad but there were still a few of the paths that I had yet to do.
The path we chose was one I had known about for ages but had only walked the first secton.
It begins with an old dirt road that leads you right down to the old glacier lake of Bay Lough. Now, there are soooooo many stories about Bay Lough. These mostly revolve around the legend of Petticoat Loose. As with a lot of legends, there are many different versions and I know many people will say that my version is wrong but it's the one I grew up with ... so:
'Years and years ago there was a dance held in the local in a town just down from the mountains. As it was a big occasion, most of the community was in attendance, all having the craic, dancing and singing. At the dance was a local girl - a farmer’s daughter. She, like the others, was having a brilliant night drinking and dancing.
'Fairly well into the night, her dress became caught in a nail on the floor while dancing. Not knowing this the girl continued dance causing the nail the rip the dress from her leaving her standing the middle of the dance floor wearing only her undergarments. The whole hall erupted into laughter. The girl, mortified, ran out of the hall and into the dark night in the direction of the mountain. In her frantic efforts to get away from everyone she became lost. As she ran on the mucky path she lost her footing, causing her to slip and fall down a hill into Bay Lough. The sheer shock of the cold water rendered her unable to swim to safety and she began to drown. In her screams for help, she cursed the local people of her village for this. She claimed that she would have revenge on any man or woman to come near the lake.'
There is a specific date in the year when Petticoat Loose, as she became known as, rises from the lake at night and drags anyone foolish enough to be near the lake into it. Now, for the life of me, I can't remember the date.
Other versions of the story claim that Petticoat Loose was, in fact, a witch. This is why she was able to place the curse. Another is that she was banished to the lake by the locals for being a witch and the only way to she can escape is the build a chair using sand at the bottom of the lake, grain by grain. As there is no definitive story and everyone claiming theirs is the right one, I would say that it will be a legend that will last.
After you pass the lake the path splits into two. We took the left path which leads up and around the lake, giving you spectacular views of the lake and valley below.
The plan was to follow the path for a while until we met a small mountain waterfall. That was the plan! Unfortunately I got the directions to this waterfall from my brother, who forgot to tell us that the waterfall was at the second mountain stream, not the first. Due to this information cock up we arrived at the first stream thinking we were at the right place. The stream was all but a trickle with no sign of a waterfall anywhere. We put "a lack of rainfall" as the reason for the missing waterfall and began our hike back to the car. Of course we found out later that this was not the case.
It was not a total waste though as the heavy frost allowed for some amazing photo opportunities.
ar an rothar
endurance cyclist, adventurer and usually hungry