An amazingly gorgeous weekend in Ireland and I was invited to join with some friends heading up Lugnaquilla. It’s the highest point in Leinster and so wonderfully accessible from Dublin. I biked out to Stillorgan and we drove down through Wicklow to Glenmalure to begin our ascent. The drive itself is a treat as you pass through some of the most scenic glens and passes. 50 minutes from Dublin we kitted up for the climb. After our outing to Scarr a couple weeks ago, doubling our summits was a heady goal (500m to 975m) – but we were ready for it.
The four of us set out before noon and the day couldn’t have been better for it. The ascent from Glenmalure is in stages; each one a very different experience. After setting of on a trail, we quickly took a shortcut up through a steeper wooded area. That set the tone for the day. Rejoining the trail, we came to our first steep portion marked by a lovely waterfall rushing down probably 75m of exposed rock. The going started to get a bit more challenging as we zigged and zagged amongst rockfalls heading for the first crest. A fine test. Breathing heavily enough we reached the break and were presented with a gently inclined meadow. This is certaily the beauty of hill; walking in Wicklow. The diversity of the landscape. The meadow was crossed by a series of rivulets than meandered, all converging on the watefall at the crest of the hill. The meadow took us towards the north and the gentle peaty surface was a bit of a relief for the knees. The downside is the sogginess and one stays quite aware of footfalls. The gorse had just faded from the bright yellow fragrance that we had a few weeks back, but there was a bright profusion of yellow and purple flowers blooming throughout the meadow to fill the hillside with a subtle and glorious hue. The meadow was surrounded by rockfalls on either side, one the north to Ben Lee and the south by Ben Dun. Both substantial peaks in their own right, and also obscuring our eventual goal of Lugnaquilla.
After an hour or two we eagerly took our first break and sustained ourselves with a light snack. Pushing on our leader decided to take a little more aggressive, steep and challenging incline. Very good for the heart I say. We skirted behind a huge outcropp between the ridge heading for Lug and the other peak at Ben Dun. This led us to one last big push before we reached the flat plateau that gradually led to the highest point on Lug.
At 976m by the iPhone, we had made it in around 3 hours and felt well satisfied with ourselves and deserving of our packed lunches. The sun was shining and the wind was a wee bit cold, but we feasted on a wonderful view.
The trip[ back down was taken at a far more leisurely pace and we were spared the harder decline that we could have sought. We set off along the expansive plateau at the crest of Lug and took a northernly jaunt down at a diagonal to meet the mountain meadow of earlier. Heading for the waterfall asa marker for the decline we actually ended up with a very knee testing descent alongside the waterfall and then crossed over the water at the foot. after the trail we braved the scrub once more and took the short cut off the beaten path arriving back at the car park thrilled with ourselves and exhilarated by a perfect excursion. All we can say now is onward and upward!
ps. Here is a beautiful stone marker at the base of our ascent commemorating those who fought in the 1798 uprising.