I went for an evening stroll on Saturday as I wanted to catch the sunset over Glen Imaal. I opted for The Sugar Loaf Mountain in West Wicklow, another regular haunt of mine!
A cloudy start to the walk, but I was led to believe that after a shower or two, the sky would clear and the sun would pop out. I was not misled, thank you yr.no!!!
As I spend so much of my free time in the outdoors, I always find it curious to see the slow transformation of the seasons. Out with the old and in with the new, so to speak!
Of course, anybody who knows me well will be all too aware (due to my repeated declaration!) that winter is my favourite season of all. A nice bright winters day, with snow on the mountains is difficult to beat in my opinion.
The Sugar Loaf in West Wicklow (also known as Black Mountain) is one of three mountains in Wicklow that bear the name ‘Sugar Loaf’. They are called the Sugar Loaf (or loaves) due to their conical nature and resemblance to sugarloaf sugar.
The West Wicklow Sugar Loaf is the superior ‘Sugar Loaf’ by my reckoning, largely because of the seclusion it offers, which appeals to me greatly. But also because of the view it offers of Glen Imaal and Lugnaquilla.
Though West Wicklow is often seen as somewhat unspectacular compared to East Wicklow, I think West Wicklow is more interesting from a personal point of view. Most of the trails here are ‘off the beaten track’, and whilst the hordes swarm to the likes of The Great Sugar Loaf and Djouce Mountain, on any given sunny Sunday – you will probably only see veteran walkers (if you see anyone at all) in the isolated summits of West Wicklow.
Well I can safely say the gorse is alive and well on the lower slopes of the mountain!
I have been searching for some time now for the optimal view point of the North Prison of Lugnaquilla. The North Prison is a glacial corrie, carved out by a slow moving river of ice thousands of years ago. Lugnaquilla itself is a bulky mountain and Wicklow’s highest (I think I might have said that before!). It has a large plateau-type summit area, bounded on two sides by steep glacial corries called “North Prison” and “South Prison”. I have established the optimal viewing point for The South Prison, so that adventure is done for now, until Winter when the mountains in Wicklow come alive.
I am not sure why it is called a ‘Prison’ though, but my suspicion would be because shepherds might have trapped their sheep within the walls of these cliffs…. I’d love to be corrected on this if I am wrong :-), and please do feel free to correct me in the comments section below if I am indeed incorrect.
As is fairly typical for the Wicklow mountains, there is a lot more to the mountain than the summit, and superior views can be had on the southern slopes overlooking Glen Imaal and Lugnaquilla itself.
I quite often would spend hours at a chosen location, waiting for the light to be ‘right’. I am notoriously fussy, so much so, that I am rarely 100% happy with my work. I also have no qualms about visiting a location 1,000 times if need be.
At the end of the day when the Sun has sunk too low and it’s time to leave, I always find it very difficult to leave. Increasingly so as a matter of fact -probably because I am finding that I get to go out less than I would like due to various ailments. I just enjoy being out too much!
Lugnaquilla and the North Prison being suppressed by cloud.
But this day I dragged myself away, not wanting to do the descent in the pitch black. Steep descents with a backpack full of heavy camera gear/lenses/tripod coupled with bad knees and a side dish of Anterior Tibialis pain (see my page about pains!) is something I wanted to avoid that evening.
Though higher than the other two Sugar Loaves (the Little Sugar Loaf and the Great Sugar Loaf), the slopes are a bit gentler on this mountain. Still, it is steep though, and descent is tough on my sub-standard arthritic knees!
Anyway, there are always interesting things to see on the way back down.
And the colours can come alive at this time of day.
I do quite often end up walking under the light of the Moon, it’s a wonderful experience and I’d recommend it!
If you like what you see here please feel free to take a look at my site where you can see lots more of my work!
For a larger shot of the North Prison and Glen Imaal, please visit my page here.
Thanks for reading!