Tomb mountain a treasure

 

Seefin mountain in Co Wicklow is a good option for walkers near Dublin and there’s lots to see on its summit, writes Sean Mac Connell

BY ALL accounts Fionn mac Cumhaill was a bit of a wild boy who ran around the country with a bunch of young friends doing what young men do. He surrounded himself with a group of peers who, on the face of it, seemed like a prehistoric bratpack.

These boyos covered a lot of territory because there are many references to Fionn and at least three mountains in Ireland named after places where he stayed or used as a base which would be the literal translation of Seefin, Suí Fionn, the seat or resting place of Fionn.

That apart, do yourself a favour and climb Seefin mountain in Co Wicklow which is only a stone’s throw from Dublin city and has a fine megalithic tomb on its top. Seefin and its companions, Seefingan and Seahan, are a grand target for a good day’s walking less than 20 miles from the capital but millennia away from the bustle of urban life.

To get there head for Kilbride military shooting range which lies under the shadow of the Corrig, Seefingan and Seefin itself. To get here go to Brigid Burke’s pub, now known as The Old Mill, and take the back road for Brittas, passing over the Dodder and up past the reservoir. When you pass the golf club watch out for a fork in the road at a place known as The Stone Cross.

Fork left there and drive 3km passing the barracks. Drive on a few more kilometres and watch out for a firebreak in the woods on your left which covers the flank of the mountain.

Many people climbing in this area find parking near Kippure bridge but, on my most recent visit, we found parking near this firebreak which we used as a path to the mountain top.

Seefin is 621 metres above you and its western side would appear to have been fortified at some stage with a high steep ramp which will force you to go right, picking up a path which will guide you to the top.

The last few hundred feet are a reasonable challenge and you will know at the end of the day you have been out for a walk, but it is a moderate rather than a hard climb.

On the top you will find a multitude of treasures, not least the fine views over the plains of the midlands and to the south and east the mountains of Wicklow. Behind, the masted top of Kippure is visible even in the worst conditions. The cairn on top is 24m across and 3m high with an amazing 7m passage which leads to the centre of the cairn.

The tomb has been ransacked and the massive capstone removed but you can get down into the burial chamber where there are at least five alcoves where more burials may have taken place.

I am told there is stone art on the side of the passage but I never ventured in there. Anyhow, I have a history of being careless with writing on stone.

On my last outing to Mullaghcleevaun, I said the monument on top commemorated An Óige members who had drowned in the lake there. Mea culpa, they did not die there but lost their lives in a swimming accident in Clogherhead, Co Louth and had I visited the monument on my last outing there, I would have remembered that.

Anyhow, when we hit the top of Seefin we decided to take in Seefingan (724m) as well and set out across the ridge above the army shooting range where it appears they were practising for world war three.

The ground between the two mountains is dirty, wet and unpleasant without gunfire thrown in as well, but we made the exposed top of Seefingan in fine time. There is another fine cairn of rocks but not as spectacular as Seefin.

However, the views from there match those of Seefin, especially to the east where you can gaze into the heart of the Wicklow Mountains in all their glory. It was tempting to try and finish off the day with a run to Kippure (757m) but I remembered the way there is very difficult because of the erosion and peathags.

On the return journey we kept to our left and followed a path well away from the ridge overlooking the firing range. We did not summit Seefin again but quartered around it picking up the path which led us to the firebreak and down to the car again. The journey took us just three-and-a-half hours and with the days getting shorter now, this is a handy walk for anyone who wants to have a decent day out in daylight.

Seefin, Co Wicklow

  • Map Ordnance SurveyDiscovery Series, Sheet 56.
  • Start/finishPark after passing the barracks at Kilbride. Look for a firebreak in the woods.
  • Get thereTake the R114 from the city passing The Old Mill pub and heading on the back road for Brittas. Head into the hills, passing the Bohernabreena Reservoir on your left, past the gold club and at the top of the hill on the pass take a left at the Stone Cross. Pass the military barracks on your left and look for parking along the roadside.
  • TimeFour hours.
  • Distance8.5km.
  • Total ascent724m.
  • SuitabilityA moderate climb but has some wet and boggy passages between the mountains. Have decent wet gear, hot food, map and compass. Stay off the rifle range which is marked.
  • Food/accommodationTallaght, Brittas and Blessington.