Go Walk: Lough Bray, Co Wicklow

 

Lough Bray, Co Wicklow

Getting there: From Dublin take the R115 from Ballyboden
Start and finish: Quarry carpark adjacent to Lough Bray Upper
Distance and time: Traditional route 3.5km, 1.5hrs. Alternative route 5.5km, 2.25hrs
Suitability: Some mountaineering experience would be useful.
Map: EastWest Mapping, Dublin & North Wicklow Mountains
Refreshments: Glencree Centre and Enniskerry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plans were made in advance – head out early (8.30am) and get back early (3pm). Made packed lunches the night before, checked the weather forecast (dryish, light wind, broken cloud cover) and had everything ready for an early start. Woke up at 9.30am and made more contributions to the swear jar. A quick decision was reached to continue with our plans and to shorten the walk by an hour. Things were thrown together and we headed off. Once on the road we noticed that the mountains were blanketed in low, dark grey clouds and fine rain was being driven along by a stiff breeze. So much for the forecast.

Our available walking time was now down to two or two-and-a-half hours – desperate measures were needed. So, we headed off for the top of Glencree and parked at a disused quarry beside the Upper Lough Bray on the R115. The Dublin and Wicklow mountains have had their unfair share of theft from cars and the evidence here wasn’t encouraging – we were parked beside the burnt out remains of a car. The advice is to leave nothing in your car, leave the glovebox open and any underseat drawers exposed and empty.

Our more immediate concern was the weather. The hills were shrouded in cloud and rain was being driven along by a strong, bitterly cold wind and we had forgotten our gloves.

The walk starts opposite the quarry and an obvious, if mucky, path leads down towards the lake. Within minutes our hands were freezing as we followed the trail over a hillock to the right of the upper lake which gave us good, although cloud interrupted views over the lower lough. Our target was Eagle’s Crag which from a distance appears to be a short, serious undertaking. However, on closer inspection, there is a well-worn track which zigzags its way up to and to the left of a prominent rock buttress. Our exertions meant that cold hands were quickly forgotten and the fleeting views down into Lough Bray Lower with it’s beautifully located cottage made the effort worthwhile.

We had a short stop near the top of the crag in as sheltered a position that we could find before continuing with our walk. The wind was strengthening and visibility was reducing. The next couple of kilometres should have taken us around the lip of the corrie above the upper lake, however I was unhappy with the exposure in the conditions and decided on a more cautious approach. We headed for a point halfway along the service road to the Kippure masts and kept well away from the more exposed route.

This worked out perfectly and it left us with a 3.5km road walk back to the car, noting another burnt-out vehicle along the way. A day best described as “a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.

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