Walk for the Weekend: A short, simple and safe trail

This Co Wicklow mountain trail suits all abilities in all weathers

The sights got better  as I continued a slow climb on the forestry track to Ride Rock

The sights got better as I continued a slow climb on the forestry track to Ride Rock

 

There are some days when all we want is a short, simple and safe hill-walking experience; even the “hards” among us can sometimes happily pass up on getting out the boots, rucksacks, maps, gaiters, pull-ups, compasses, route cards, sandwiches, flasks, etc, of the heavy-duty hiker. And if you live in the capital, especially on the southside, the Maulin Mountain Trail out of Crone Woods carpark will normally save you all that fuss.

This very pleasant, well-marked trail of 5km and 350m of ascent, is on extraction tracks and prepared paths and is safely doable in light boots or, with care, good runners. And being in the north-east corner of the Wicklow Mountains, it is wonderfully sheltered when our wild south-westerlies blow. The trail will give ample opportunity to enjoy wooded Glencree Valley, the iconic Sugarloaf, Powerscourt Waterfall, Dublin Bay, Howth and Dublin’s intriguing islands. And on a good day, the Mountains of Mourne and the high tops of Snowdonia can adorn a distant horizon.

Added to all this visual delight were little path-side snacks of handfuls of purple fraughan berries

I came there with Oscar, my daughter’s great little Border Terrier, on a blowy imperfect August day. Normally, high-summer hiking doesn’t attract me. On this day, however, the few resident midges and flies took little from being in a wonderland of purple heather, foxgloves, vivid yellow furze and autumn-russet fraughan foliage. Added to all this visual delight were little path-side snacks of handfuls of purple fraughan berries.

Following the red signs for the trail in a clockwise direction, I was soon clear of the mature pines and admiring the oak woodlands of the floor of Glencree, the lead smelter tower of Carrickgollogan (not “lead mines”), the dramatic glacial overflow channel of the Scalp and of course the Errigal-like quartzite cone of the Sugarloaf. All these got better as I continued a slow climb on the forestry track to Ride Rock. This is a superb vantage point for viewing the Dargle River as it cascades dramatically out of quiet Glensoulan and into the wooded chasm of Powerscourt Deerpark. Note the little gap high up on the south-east corner of the Deerpark hollow. This is the outlet for ice-age meltwaters off Djouce and Maulin which, dammed by an ice front to the north, filled the hollow and overflowed out across the Calary Plateau.

I’ve done this very satisfying trail umpteen times, in snow, heat, rain and gales, and loved it

Nearby, a perfectly-positioned wooden bench (dedicated to the memory of Grace Dawson) allows a rest before the route swings west onto a very pleasant single-file path flanked by young pines, blooming heather and gorse. Further on, a hangout was shortened for Oscar and me by midges and flies attracted by human and canine sweat after the steepest section of the route. Soon we reached the gate/stile, which gives access to a selection of paths to the summit of Maulin, and took the long leisurely descent to the carpark at Crone. I’ve done this very satisfying trail umpteen times, in snow, heat, rain and gales, and loved it on this day just as much as ever.

Maulin Mountain Trail, Crone Forest Recreation Area, Co Wicklow.
Map:
OS Sheet 56 (excellent trail route map on panel in the carpark).
Start/Finish: Crone Car Park, 7km from Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.
Suitability and Effort: 5km, 350m of ascent; 2.5hrs; care required on steep sections and route-finding.

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