A Week in Wicklow – Part 3: The Ways of Wicklow

The way of things to come

We had a very nice long sleep – a feature that would be present in most of our days in Ireland. We had spotted in our room an electronic pest control device and had heard some odd noises from above – we wondered if there may be rats, but these failed to materialise in any tangible way during the course of the week…phew.

On waking, I had a really intense stomach pain for a few hours. To the extent that we nearly headed to hospital. After a while it started to go though, and I took my mind off it by programming some Geocaches into GPS. We were learning as we went along with this – both about Geocaching and how to use the GPS, so it was a slow process. One key thing we discovered was that we could input the co-ordinates for the caches in longitude and latitude (as given on geocaching.com) and then get the GPS receiver to translate these into nice Irish Grid references for us on the map. This COULD be done by hand, but was much more accurate with the technology, and the Irish Grid references would prove invaluable in our hunting.

We then headed off to Wicklow Town. The Information Centre (and most things) were shut on Sunday. But we found a pharmacy and another Super Valu (with another Tesco nearby), that was open, which was what we needed.

As we came out of Super Valu the Irish rain came down, but – as expected, it had all but stopped by the time we got back to the car. It was on and off all day…all week! Light and heavy, wet and then dry again, blazing sunshine evaporating the surface water of recent showers in a shimmering cloud of steam.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

We took the back roads from Wicklow to Rathdrum for our first bit of solo Geocaching: the Maria’s Drum multi-cache (spoliers lie ahead if you’re a Geocacher who may one day go to Ireland).

Multi-caches have several parts and are usually treasure-hunt-like affairs, with places to explore and clues o solve to find the co-ordinates of the cache. The first two steps were easy and took in the local high street and a memorial park. We solved the clues and calculated the co-ordinates, but the third and final part was an unexpectedly long walk away.

We finally arrived at a small roadside shrine to the blessed virgin (I think). We followed the GPS, which, in the tree cover, wasn’t being particularly accurate. We followed the decoded clue. We rummaged in the trees, we searched the stone walls for little holes, and we hunted high and low, but to no avail.

We eventually gave up and headed back up to the town, disappointed; Geocaching isn’t supposed to be like this, it’s fun, and exciting, the trail, the search, the find!!! But no, we failed at the first attempt. Did we not look hard enough? Or was it not there? We’ve logged our “Not Found” and are waiting to see.

We did head back for another go on our way back out of Rathdrum in the car, but still couldn’t find it. We’re convinced the cache has been removed. I, personally, didn’t like rummaging around in a shrine to Mary – I’m a Christian, but I’m not into the reverance for Mary that catholics have, but I also appreciate that some people will have regarded that as a sacred site. Perhaps that’s why the cache was removed?

The Beach

We grabbed an ice cream…this would become another habit of our holiday…and then headed back to the cottage.

Dinner was followed by an attempted walk to the nearest beach. Our first attempt was via a farm and track but, despite the existence of a track on the map, we weren’t sure if we had a right of way across the field. So we abandoned the route.

The second attempt was via the road through the nearby “Missionary Sisters'” place, however, this was clearly signposted as private ground.

So we headed back down past the farm that we first tried, for a longer, on-road route. But we went too far along the road – which had confused me, because the map clearly showed a turning on the right towards the beach. It turned out that the path to the beach marked on the map as “other road”, was actually a gated, narrow, pedestrian path! Grrr.

Eventually we found the path, and got to the beach. It was nice and secluded – out own private bay for 20 minutes – but there was lots of litter. As we left, some bikers arrived at the end of the path. I suspect there’s a lot of fires and parties that go on on that little patch of sand, and we were probably fortunate to have a secluded stroll.

Finding our way

Ireland is “just over there”, and most people speak English, but Ireland can be quite different.

Wicklow is very scenic but feels tamed. We have OS maps but paths are not easily findable and some paths and even roads, seem to be private. It makes you realise how open and accessible the UK is and how good it is for countryside rambling.

We were still finding our way on the first day of our holiday.