Luggala estate reopens to walkers for first time since March

‘Responsible walkers’ welcome but owner says further closures will be likely in future

Access to the uplands of Luggala estate has reopened in time for National Walking Day. File photograph: Eric Luke

Access to the uplands of Luggala estate has reopened in time for National Walking Day. File photograph: Eric Luke

 

The owner of the Luggala estate in the Wicklow mountains has reopened access routes to the uplands for “responsible walkers” for the first time since March.

The reopening is in time for National Walking Day, which last year saw 3.6 million people take some form of walk on the day.

The pedestrian gate, alongside the main gate to the estate from the Roundwood to Sally Gap Road was closed in March citing restrictions related to Covid-19.

Over subsequent months filming of the television hit series Vikings and farming were also cited as reasons for keeping the gate closed. The estate also complained of vandalism to trees and unauthorised intrusion to private parts of the estate, near the former hunting lodge made famous by the late Garech Browne and his mother Oonagh Guinness.

Hill-walking groups have not claimed right of way around or across the estate but for decades were permitted to access Lough Dan and Oldbridge from the pedestrian gate. The gate also provided access to Knocknacloghoge and Fancy Mountain as well as other wilderness areas.

In a letter to hill walkers and mountaineers on Wednesday, the estate said “Luggala Estate Management is pleased to welcome responsible walking groups to Luggala once again.”

The letter said a film company which had spent months in the valley had completed its filming schedule and “we can now allow access to Lough Dan, Knocknacloghoge and Fancy Mountain”.

It stipulated that in line with current Government Covid-19 guidelines, walking groups must be no more than 15 people and social distancing of two metres must be maintained while walking on the estate.

The walkers have also been asked to provide a name and contact number for Covid-19 contact-tracing purposes for each group entering the estate.The records will be maintained for 14 days only, the letter said.

Walking groups planning to access the estate were also told they could email in advance contact details and the day of their planned walk to info@luggala.ie.

The estate further asked that those accessing the uplands respect that Luggala is a designated special protection area for birds and a special area of conservation.

As reported in The Irish Times last week the estate has reserved the right to close off access and the letter from the estate office reminded walkers “there will be times when it will be necessary to restrict access” in future. The notice added “ we reserve the right to refuse admission to any individual or group”.

National Walking Day on September 27th takes place during European Week of Sport, which runs until the 30th.