Our first trip of our week in Ireland and what a way to start the week. The rain (as forecast) was absolutely lashing down. It had been all night, and it was also blowing a small gale. Not a good day at all! Still, encouraged by the guidebook which said that Faunarooska does not flood easily we thought we would give this very pretty cave a shot.
The cave is found by parking at the start of the track leading north east at M138046 on Irish OS map 51. This is best reached by heading north on the main road out of Lisdoonvarna and taking the second road (a very discrete and not well marked junction) on the left along a mostly single track road for a few miles. Walk up the track, past the first gate and then past the next wall coming down the hill. Just after this is a gate into onto the fell on the right. Through this gate, bear right to join the wall about 50m back running up the fell. Follow this wall for about 200-300m up the fell. Shortly after the wall 'runs out' near the top of the fell the depression of Faunarooska with a surrounding fence is only 50m further ahead. It is very heavily overgrown.
Unfortunately, today, we did not take this route to the cave from the car, and instead (on Gary's memory from several years back) we turned right up the fell too early (at the first gate along the track) and ended up spending 45 minutes trudging up the peaty stream around the fell in waist height bracken and through bogs in the pouring rain before eventually locating the shakehole entrance. At least it worked up an appetite.
The entrance drops into a stream canyon which descends steeply. For a guide to this cave, see my description for our more successful trip later in the week. Unfortunately today our luck was out and water was crashing into the entrance. Further downstream where the first major inlet joins it was pouring in the inlet as well as from further inlets higher up creating a wall of water ahead. Terrifying! We turned around, wondering quite how successful the team in Cullaun Two (an active stream cave) would be getting on right now and returned to the hut to dry out.
Thankfully this weather only lasted for today and by the following morning all was settled and dry again. We managed a more successful trip to Faunarooska later in the week.
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