A frosty morning.
I love these mornings the best, light winds, clear skies and widespread ground frost. It was due to cloud over later, and I was hoping it would.
Driving from my home to the hills on these frosty mornings, I am always mindful of the fact that the mountain roads are not treated for snow/ice so the best bet is to skirt the higher roads and avoid any potential nastiness in terms of getting the car stuck!
I had wanted to climb Lugnaquilla again this weekend, but a poor night of sleep coupled with the fact that I suspected it would be in complete whiteout for the day made me change my mind and so I opted to visit the Spinc walk at Glendalough and push on to Lugduff Gap. Plus, I have been to Lug a few times recently (see here and here).
This is a walk I have done many times, and I am surprised that it has not featured as a blog post yet. My bad, but here is one now :-).
Parking at the (paid) car park at the upper lake of Glendalough, I was (as is often the case) the first customer of the day for the toll booth!
There are so many trails in the Glendalough area, and I am happy to pay the toll to park my car here because it leaves me with the feeling that my car is safe and I can enjoy my time outdoors without worrying about returning to a smashed window from a car break in. It’s a sad state of affairs but parking in the Wicklow Mountains can be a bit dodgy due to break ins (it has happened no less than 4 times to me). I never leave valuables in my car of course. The thieves just take their chances.
Anyway, back to the walk! The Spinc (meaning ‘Pointed Hill’) and Lugduff (‘Black Hollow’) are well situated, the former giving wonderful views of the twin lakes (at some stage in the distant past – these two lakes were actually one lake) of Glendalough, and the latter revealing Lugnaquilla itself from potentially its most imposing aspect.
Nippy enough as I left the car, definitely a winter feeling in the air in the hills of Wicklow.
The start of the walk is a familiar journey, climbing besides the Poulanass Waterfall. I must have walked on this trail thousands of times, but it never gets boring. The Lugduff Brook is always pretty.
Pausing for a breather now. A tough climb ahead, ascending the ‘boardwalk of doom’ as I call it. Hundreds of wooden railway sleepers have been laid down here by the national park. I wanted to ‘de-layer’ a bit and take off my jacket as I wanted to minimise the sweat here. I knew it would be much colder up top. A soldier once said to me ‘if you are sweating, you are walking too fast’ – sound advice.
I turned around for a brief second, and look! A new friend!
Robbie the Robin!
I think he was after my sandwiches! But I needed those for myself :-). He was a friendly little fella, and was not at all concerned about my presence whatsoever.
Near the top now, and yes it’s frosty up here. The boardwalk I mentioned before does help make a rather nasty boggy hike a bit easier generally, but in ice/frost/snow it is actually quite detrimental I think. It becomes very slippery, and due to the nature of the structure itself heavy duty crampons are not a useful tool here.
However, I came prepared and I have faced this boardwalk in thick ice before. I have the perfect antidote – Trespass snow studs:
These are perfect for this scenario – just a simple attachment that you wrap around your shoe with small metal studs underneath. They really do help and they weigh nothing. You are no threat to me, treacherous boardwalk!
After the climb though, a delightful view of the lower lake of Glendalough is the reward. I was here not too long after sunrise, with the mountains behind me casting long shadows.
The lower slopes of Camaderry Mountain (I must do a post about this one soon, though I touched on it here) are beautiful in the early morning light, as is Scarr in the distance.
Climbing higher now, and the higher slopes of the Spinc (on the left) and Camaderry Mountain come into view (on the right) as well as the upper lake of Glendalough itself. J.B. Malone (the pioneer of The Wicklow Way) refers to Camaderry Mountain as The Proud Mountain – I can see why.
I didn’t want to linger here too long, as this was not my main objective for today. Reluctantly (miraculously!) I managed to drag myself away from this beautiful place and soldiered on. I liked the frost on this rock. Though not a mountain to me, it certainly bore the resemblance of one.
Ascending higher still, and the heather here is frozen. Time is a funny thing, it felt like only a few weeks ago that I was photographing purple heather at Cullentragh Mountain (see here), but this was 3 months ago! I must be getting old. Bleurgh.
Getting pretty cold now, but I was also getting hungry! This looked like a good spot to have lunch. It was sheltered at least, as the wind was picking up. And (out of frame) there was a dry enough rock to sit on. Ham & lettuce sandwiches never tasted so good let me tell you!
The Lugduff Gap is a high point on The Wicklow Way long distance walking route (I must do this walk one day, when my arthritis allows) and forms the saddle between Mullacor Mountain and Lugduff Mountain itself. An exposed section of the walk, but on a clear day the views are incredible, particularly looking over to Lugnaquilla and Fraughan Rock Glen.
Watching the skies, the cloud cover is increasing now. But I was happy about this (for once). The sun is in the south at this time of year, and I wanted to shoot south from Lugduff Gap, so a clear sky would have made this a contrasty and ugly affair.
I have reached the Lugduff Gap now, and the view over to Croaghanmoira Mountain (I have a post about this one here) is particularly mystical at this time.
A wonderful day to be outdoors, Wicklow is magical at this time of year. I created a timelapse of this, to capture the movement of the fog – you can see it here on my Facebook Page. It’s worth watching – it’s beautiful.
The view over to Lugnaquilla and Fraughan Rock Glen was equally satisfying, though different.
I was wrong, the whole time I was here (which was a while, due to the timelapse) not once did Lug fog over. It looks like it would have been a great day for a Lug walk! A more intimate view of Lugnaquilla and Fraughan Rock Glen. Cold up there, I’d say.
It was cold enough here!
Thank you for reading!
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