A Week in Wicklow – Part 7: The Hills and Roads

To Walk or not to Walk, that is the question

Despite it being predictably unpredictable, We’ve been trying our best to closely watch the weather this week. Our aim has been to be outdoors as much as we can, and do some hill walking if possible. While we’ve certainly been to mountain height, we’ve still not really “climbed a mountain”, and so last night we planned a hike up Tonelagee (817m).

But when we awoke we decided that the forecast, was, and always had been, better for Friday than for Thursday, so we put off the big walk until tomorrow. So today was the backup plan…a trip up the military road, through Sally Gap, stopping off to do some shorter walks to pick up our last Geocaches.

Trooping and Paddock Hill

First stop, “Trooping” at the foot of Trooperstown Hill. Not much of a climb from the Trooperstown car park to get to this, but we did have to carefully pick our way through lots of spiky gorse and muddy, marshy ground. It was well worth it though, as we were treated to more great scenery, hidden away by a remote bit of river.

Then, back to the car and up to “Paddock Hill”. The recommended route is not from the south, as we did it, but there was a route on the map and we gave it a go. It was mostly easy, but we lost the path at one point and ended up in what’s best described as a graveyard for old fir trees. The cache was easily found on the summit to glorious views of the surrounding peaks (Scarr, Brockagh, Tonelagee) and some fierce, blustery winds.

Blown Away

Having bagged a minor peak (Paddock Hill is 357m and, I think, technically a mountain), we headed back to the car to find another place to park up and find some more. We headed up to the Wicklow Gap, which is quite a climb up to 476m in the car. We parked up and got out the car only to be nearly blown away. We toyed with picking up Turlough Hill, a walk up to the reservoir at 692m, but the path was on the exposed side of the hill and we decided that it would either be to cold or to dangerous to head up in such a strong wind.

So we opted to head down hill, and down wind, to “Wicklow Gold”. This was along St Kevin’s Way, which, apparently, was once paved, but is now mostly boggy marsh. This was another quick and easy one, though the walk back to the car – uphill and into the wind, while losing the path in some more boggy marshland – was not so pleasant.

Through the Gap

Weather was still not good so we decided to skip “Turlough Hill” and hit the military road.

I confess, I hadn’t paid much attention to the detail of the map for this drive. In my head it was a fairly main road and pretty straight. But the military had other ideas when building it – mostly their idea was to build a road through the mountains, following the contours, peaking at 524m and crossing a barren and spectacular landscape. The drive started well, and after a steady climb we got to take in Glenmacnass waterfall and to see Tonelagee a bit closer up.

Shortly after Glenmacnass though, the road got increasingly narrow, twisty and remote. We drove for quite some time across a flatish moorland, surrounded by some high peaks. It felt incredibly wild and it was exhilarating just being there. The light played off the cliffs and hillsides, shadows of the clouds brought a moody, atmospheric feel to the place, and there was no one – no one! – for miles. We were even treated to what felt like our own, personal rainbow.

If you come to Wicklow, take time out to head up the military road through the Sally Gap. I promise, it’s spectacular!

We headed back from Enniskerry on the N11, wilderness behind us, and a fun evening of learning old card games, and remembering some old ones – shed, slam, nines and so on.

One more full day to go – the forecast is still good for tomorrow, though I’m worried it will still be windy. We will pack, rise early, and head to Tonelagee for a short hike.