Wicklow Winter Wonderland – Without the Snow!

Signpost at Sally Gap on a Winter's Day, with War Hill and Djouce behind.
Signpost at Sally Gap on a Winter's Day, with War Hill and Djouce behind.

Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains can be either utterly miserable or utterly amazing depending on the day you catch it. Sunday 28th December 2008 was one of those utterly amazing days.

I had done far too much drinking, eating and socialising in the run up to Christmas. Now that the big day had passed, I was itching to get away from all the wine and food. I also needed some peace and quiet, and I knew I could get that the mountains.

I drove to Sally Gap. It took a while to get there from Dublin, inching my way along the narrow, icy roads that wind their way through Wicklow. Outside my windscreen, the sky was blue and the air seemed crisp. The winter sun cast a brown hue over the bog and heather. The long grass was already frozen stiff from the cold.

I decided to head to West Wicklow, a barren place with no tracks and potentially no people. I was right. Up on to Carrigvore, towards Gravale and Duff Hill, it was just me and myself in the mountains.

View of Wicklow Mountains from Gravale Summit Cairn.
View of Wicklow Mountains from Gravale Summit Cairn.

It was a distinctly winter’s day. The saddles, usually wet marshy muck, were frozen solid. The heather was low, hiding away from the winter chill. The lack of heather made indistinct the tiny tracks that usually lead from peak to peak. But the lack of tracks didn’t matter – the winter had beaten down the foliage underfoot, allowing me to take whichever route I wished between hills.

I hadn’t been here since my July 2008 Wicklow Round attempt. That day, I could see only 20-30 metres ahead. Today I could see as far as Lough Dan, some six kilometres away. It was good to see the mountains at their best and to enjoy them in fresh winter weather. And it was fun as ever to boot down the boggy slopes and to run free in the Wicklow wilds.


The Winter Sun over West Wicklow.
The Winter Sun over West Wicklow.

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3 thoughts on “Wicklow Winter Wonderland – Without the Snow!

  1. Cyprus has been really nice this last week – the first week it was pretty cold with a reasonable amount of rain but the last 7 days Mel and I have well and truly been working on our tans – the 7 day forecast looks good too.

    My knee held up well and there have been no more flat tire incidents so all is good 🙂

    Hopefully a few crispy, sunny days await our return…

  2. Hey there Ryan! Yeah, completely agree with you.

    Orienteering got cancelled today because of bad weather 😦 I decided to stay in and blog instead, and to put up those photos from December just to remind myself that Wicklow can be beautiful and have good weather sometimes!

    BTW you guys are doing brilliantly in Cyprus – hope that your knee has stopped bleeding, your tyres are still pumped up and that you bring a bit of sun back from the Sunshine Cup!

  3. I love it in the Wicklow Mountains when we get that sort of day. Crisp air, infinite views and ground that your not sinking down into. Also, there seems to be something very still in the air – no cars, no trace of human existance – just you and the hills 🙂

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