Walk for the weekend: Circuit of Lugduff Brook, Glendalough, Co Wicklow

The summit of Mullacor allows for the best view of Lugnaquilla

Lugduff Brook, Glendalough, Co Wicklow

Lugduff Brook, Glendalough, Co Wicklow

 

Much has been written of Glendalough: its history, geology and story and especially of its unique synthesis of ancient Irish spirituality and a wild place of stone and water. And of course, it is one of the most rewarding, and best facilitated locations for walking in Ireland.

This is a lovely, if substantial walk in the warm heart of Wicklow. It takes walkers into the high hills southwest and south of Glendalough, to the edge of spectacular Glenmalure. It starts in the Visitor Centre car park (€4), follows the “green road” to the wonderful wooden staircase of the Spink, swings left above Prezen Rock and under Lugduff, crosses ancient Bohernacrow, ascends Mullacor and swings left and north along the long arête of Derrybawn mountain; it descends from the summit on to the series of tracks that rejoin the “green road” back to the Visitor Centre car park.

Importantly, it follows clear paths all the way, and is easy going underfoot.

In my view, the summit of Mullacor allows for the best view of Lugnaquilla that there is

We came on an August day when a humid “warm sector” was feeding moist air up from the southwest, shrouding the highest and western-most of the hills in mist and drizzle. For us though on its eastern-most edge, the high Wicklow massif shredded the cloud cover, allowing the sun to warm body and spirit.

Myths of hermits

The initial section of the walk along the “green road” to the Spink was as in a multilingual and multinational procession of visitors, all primed and excited by exotic stories and myths of hermits and saints and Vikings, and of a love-struck 6th-century stalker of poor, put-upon St Kevin. Some lingered by the peaceful shores of the Lower Lake, unconcerned by the thought of the saint’s resident pet “Péist”, or serpent, whose job it was to protect his pious solitude at the Upper Lake.

Some hardier souls made it to the top of the Spink and were rewarded by the classic view of the chasm of the Upper Lake. Numbers had thinned out by the time we abandoned the boardwalk and struck south above the Prezen Rock and under Lugduff, all the time enjoying the clear path and the shelter of the mountain. Bohernacrow on the col between Lugduff and Mullacor came and went, the boardwalk there a welcome respite from some water-logged sections.

In my view, the summit of Mullacor allows for the best view of Lugnaquilla that there is. In its foreground, across deep Glenmalure, is the most spectacular wild glen in Wicklow – the Fraughan Rock Glen with its tiered glacial coums, one atop the other, probably the site of the last mountain glacier in Ireland.

Only a little less spectacular, the long arête out to Derrybawn summit gives easy going and lovely views to the north, east and west and of the reappearing Upper Lake of Glendalough. A clear path from the summit, trending west-northwest and requiring some care, brought us back down to the “green road” and eventually to the Visitor Centre car park.

Map: Ordnance Survey sheet 56 and panels in the car park

Start/Finish: Glendalough Visitor Centre (€4); alternative, Upper Lake car park

Effort: 13kms, nearly 700m of ascent; four-five hours

Suitability: clear paths/tracks; moderate fitness and knowledge of mountain navigation required.

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