Our streak of cloudness warm mornings continues. The Irish probably consider this run of weather a heat wave and when you are walking along a shade-free road it is easy to agree with them. Today though we would have a fair bit of shade to help keep us feel a bit more comfortable as we walked from Shielstown Forest, where we left off the day before, to the lodge in Glenmalure some 18km away.
We started out by strolling along a forestry road that wound its way back and forth and steadily up through the managed forest of Shielstown Forest. Our understanding is most of the trees are Sitka spruce but no doubt other species are mixed in too. While you are walking a dirt road with forest to either side it is not a bad walk when you are walking in areas that do not show obvious signs of cutting. Of course, that never can last in a forest that is being actively logged and we saw evidence of clear cutting. We ascended gradually over a ocuple kilometers before gently descending a smaller forestry road with a stream running alongside. Easy walking as we crossed the stream and joined a minor road for a bit and continued to slowly descend working our way towards another river bridge crossing. This is easy walking but it is walking along country roads and so a bit dull.
We were at the 6km mark before we really hit a stretch of walk you could consider being on a path. A steeply ascending path that followed a powerline right-of-way up a hillside for 400-500 meters ascending easily 60 meters over that stretch. By now the shade had lessened and the climb brought out the sweat. It was warming up and I’ve no doubt that the temperature under the sun was pushing 80F by late morning.
More road walking through more managed forest. We passed a runner with a support van doing something for charity. Poof: he was gone. We kept ascending for the next 1.5-2km and around 11:20 we reached a lean-to shelter that sits in an open area a few hundred linear meters below the sumit of Carrickashane MountIn (sp) and would make a fine place for an emergency or, given it has a fire ring and maybe water, a decent campsite shelter. A good place to sit at the picnic table and have lunch. It is too bad the food provided for lunch was rather pathetic. No one ate even close to everything we had.
Up and over the mountain on a path that would lead us down a lovely spruce-needle covered trail for a time before joining yet another gravel and dirt road under blazing sunny skies. We continued down , joining a tarmac road for a short ways, before veering off on to a field path that would wind into a new managed forest and join another forestry road that would climb into the Slieve Mountain forest. Pleassant enough if a bit uninteresting. Still we found a spot for a snack just before leaving the shade to begin the final ascent of Slieve before dropping down into the valley of Glenmalure.
That is a descent that is emminantly forgettable. The first kilometer or so follows the forestry road through wretched looking clear-cut. Ugly. The forest re-asserts itself a bit but it is still not pretty. Here we made a mistake. We missed a turning and kept descending the forestry road to the Military Road. That road is a paved road that keeps descending into Glenmalure for kilometer after kilometer: 5km in all. Somehow we missed the official turn. Looking at the map though we aren’t all that certain our goof cost us any distance and the gradient may have been gentler though the footing grew tiresome. Sometimes the signage marking turns leaves something to be desired.
A bit before 15:00 we arrived at Glenmalure Lodge. I think we thought we would have a town to check out too but that doesn’t seem to be true. The lodge is a big place and clearly a gathering spot. We settled in and now after a few hours and an early dinner it is time to just take our ease and get ready for toorrow.
Stats: 17.75km distance with 490m ascent and 645m descent much of which climbs up and over Carrick-a-Shane and Slieve Mountain before descending into Glenmalure. Vast majority of the walk is forestry roads with a bit on paths. Had we not made our error the 5km final tarmac stretch would likley have followed more forestry road. Weather: clear skies all day with a high pushing 84F.
- Oveiew Map. Starting at Shielstown Forest ; ending Glenmalure Lodge.
- Mom and Dad at the highpoint in Shielstown Forest.
- A lean-to along the Wicklow way: lunch spot.
- What a few hundred years of human activity, with a focus of active forestry in the recent decades, can look like.