There is something mystical and magical about the place. It starts like many other tramps (as locals call walks or hikes:)) - inauspicious country road that takes you to the basic carpark surrounded by fields filled by cows and sandflies. Then the first couple of hours of the rather bleak walk.
But once the steep ascent starts the walk begins to slowly transform itself. The path gets narrower, with sheer drops – how on Earth do you bike here? After some more arduous climb you almost there: the REAL land of the hobbit begins.
As you get higher and deeper into the birch woods, the forest starts looking more and more like from a fairy tale: creepy, twisted, crooked and knurled branches take on eerie and somewhat uncomfortable shapes. With each step you expect to bump into a giant spider, a hobbit – or a Baba Jaga house, standing on a chicken foot. The silence is deafening...
The ground feels like walking on expensive memory foam: soft and spongy, encasing your feet with each step. It makes you feel connected with the little plants, floating slightly above the ground. This is probably WHY hobbits were barefoot!
A closer look shows teh diversity - and beaty - of these little soldiers of the local flora.
With the moisture comes the mist, adding an air of mystery to the already magical place. Light and shadows start to play with your imagination, shapes appear and disappear with each step.
The greens get even greener. The ground turns into a water bed, each footstep producing a range of wet, squishy sounds.
Kirwan track offers some of the best tramping to be had - especially in early spring or late winter, when you can expect 4 seasons in a day (or two). After rain the track can be muddy – especially the last part: although the route follows 4x4 track, you can expect huge pools of water that will slow your progress down.
Kirwan Hut is excellent: well maintained with great views. Montgomerie Hut has more ‘character’ – pretty simple and run-down. If you go in early spring / late winter you are likely to have the place to yourself (plus hobbits and Baba Jaga of course!). Definitely grater than most of the Great Walks.