Go Walk: a steep walk from Brandon Point to An Sas

See these Kerry slopes and settlement before they vanish

 

Go Walk: Brandon Point to An Sas, Co Kerry

Map: OSI Discovery Series. Sheet 70
Start and end: Brandon Point car park.
Grid reference: Q 526 174. There is also a small car park at Teer,which can be an alternative finish if you have two cars. Grid reference Q 507 146
Get there: From Tralee take the N86 Dingle road. At the fork for Camp keep right on the R560 through Cloghane and Brandon and on to Brandon Point. From Dingle the R560 will bring you to the Point via the Conor Pass.
Time: 4 hours Distance: 14km (10km if you finish at Teer).
Ascent: 550m
Suitability: Moderate. Rain gear, boots, gaiters, map and compass required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some time ago alarm spread among the climbing community when a report was circulated that there had been a major landslide on Mount Brandon. It subsequently turned out that the slippage had occurred at An Sas (Sauce Creek) which is some distance away. This news was scant consolation to me as this circular bay is one of my favourite places and I have often rambled around the rim of its 400m cliffs.

I like to ponder on the lives of the three 19th-century families who farmed on the steep slopes above the Boulder Clay Cliffs that encircle the Storm beach formed by the towering waves that roar into the bay during northerly storms. The last family didn’t leave until 1910. The old “Six-Inch” OS maps show eight fields and the cluster of cabins. Over the years I have observed the gradual obliteration of the evidence that such a unique settlement ever existed as the sea below and landslips above continued their inexorable onslaught on the site. On my last visit there was only half of one field left and when I got the news of the landslide, I headed west to see if the last traces had been swept away.

On this occasion I did not use my usual track but instead took the longer route from Brandon Point. A green road leads up on to the cliffs. I kept on this for a few hundred metres before swinging right on to the summit of An Buaicin (251m)

The view from here is tremendous with the slopes of Slieve Mish Mountains swooping down to the great scythe of Castlegregory and Fermoyle Beach and away to the north the elegant finger of Loop Head marks the entrance to the Shannon Estuary.

The direct route to An Sas involves dropping down into a deep river valley and then back up the steep slopes of Cnoc Duileibhe (311m) so I took the easier option and crossed the moorland to the south of the river and then turned north on to Sliabh Glas (324m), which provides the best viewing point for the soaring cliffs of this exceptional inlet. The scend of the sea is what gives An Sas its name – it means a trap with a noose and there is a saying among local fishermen that if you are swept in there you won’t get out. There was no sign of a major landslide on the slopes but as I walked northwards I could see it had occurred at the eastern entrance to the creek. I beat a judicious retreat and circled around to the western side to get a good view. Be careful on this slope as the ground drops away steeply about half way down. I did get a good view of the slippage, which must have been more than 200m wide. I then contoured back towards the head of the bog road which leads back to Brandon.

The remnants of the settlement endure as a reminder of a fight for survival against famine and the elements. Go there before it all disappears.

 

 

 

 

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