For some, finding the optimal route around the Wicklow Round is the best part of this newly founded Round. For others, just getting around is sufficient enough. For the latter, I thought it an idea to provide a written description of the route I used during my Round in May 2009. I’m not suggesting that this is the best route to use using the least distance or climb. But it was the one I was most comfortable with given the time and conditions.
The main map I used for the Wicklow Round route was the 1:30000 Harvey’s Map of the Wicklow Mountains. Around Carrawaystick, the 1:25000 Pat Healey’s map of Glendalough and Glenmalure was needed. Note that the bearings given in this description are using a magnetic deviation of 6 degrees west of grid north as of 2009.
Start – Kippure
Follow wide sandy track heading south until it peters out. Past what looks like a turning-circle, the track turns into a faint worn-path through the bog. Cross over the stream and follow this worn-path all the way to the summit following a 222 degree bearing. Parts of the path are very boggy and indistinct at times, making it very easy to lose at night.
Kippure – Carrigvore
With the mast on your left, bear left around the mast station and join the tarmac road. During daylight, at the third bend in the road (around 700 metres high), before the road veers decisively to the left, go around the metal barrier, and run a 148 degree bearing to the corner of the old military road. On the bearing, aim for where the two fences form a T-junction GR O 125 142. The initial descent is through uneven heather, then through grass before you hit the stream. From the fence to the road, you make your way through uneven heather, grass and bog. At night, it is best to take the tarmac road back to the Kippure service entrance (GR O 142 142), though this adds 2-5 minutes to your time.
Run the road to Sally Gap. Turn right at the Gap, and just past the junction, hop onto the hill and take a 226 degree bearing towards Carrigvore summit. In 2009, this was all through bog and burnt heather. Initially there is no distinct path, but then it becomes apparent to the left of a bog ditch. As the hill flattens out, go through a large rut in the bog on a bearing of 196 degrees. The summit is marked by a large flat stone on a height.
Carrigvore – Gravale
Continue on a 196 degree bearing following the same direction away from the summit as you approached it. A faint bog track that follows a ditch materialises. Descend using this to the saddle. Note that this whole west area of Wicklow (from Sally Gap to Table Mountain) is very prone to misty conditions. If misty, from Carrigvore summit, take a 238 degree bearing to the saddle and the start of Gravale. This descent is through uneven bog and heather.
Follow the distinct path up Gravale on a bearing of 276 degrees. As it flattens out at around 660 metres, you cross a very boggy area. Throughout the Round, be sure not to cross blanket bog areas (without vegetation) if it looks wet or you could be sucked in / lose a shoe. As the hill climbs again, follow the path (beside a tall bog ditch) on a bearing of 260 degrees to the summit cairn.
Gravale – Duff Hill
If conditions are misty, follow a 220 degree bearing to the foot of Duff Hill. If visibility is good, continue south through bog ditches (with rocks underfoot) and bear right after 1-2 minutes to find a narrow walkers path down through the bog. This path is hard to find, but worth following to avoid a rough descent through heather.
Look out for a small rock up on the Duff Hill ascent just right of the saddle – this is just about visible from Gravale. A small faint walkers’ path runs just below this rock and up onto Duff hill: it is worth following this to avoid a rough climb through grass and heather. The path’s bearing is 256 degrees. Continue on this path to cairn summit.
Duff Hill – Mullaghcleevaun East Top
From Duff Hill, head on a 245 degree bearing and follow a well trodden boggy, rocky path descent to the saddle between Duff Hill and Mullaghcleevaun East Top. At the saddle, there are two small ponds. Follow a bearing of 215 degrees to East Top. There are faint walkers’ paths that run from the saddle to around 760 metres through grass and bog. From there, blanket bog wipes out walkers trails until the summit cairn, so you need to make your own path. The summit is marked by a cairn.
Mullaghcleevaun East Top – Mullaghcleevaun
Follow a 290 degree bearing all the way to Mullaghcleevaun summit. Walkers’ paths are indistinct and there is blanket bog between the two summits that you need to go around if wet. Going underfoot is mainly grass. The summit has a trig pillar on top.
Mullaghcleevaun – Moanbane
This area is one of the easiest to get lost in if there are misty conditions. Be very careful here. Mullaghcleevaun to Billy Burn’s Gap has no walkers’ trails between them, and is through bog and heather that is badly uneven so the going can be very slow here. If visibility is low, follow a 269 degree bearing to Billy Byrne’s Gap and a 284 degree bearing up Moanbane. The ascent up Moanbane is through grass. The summit is marked by a small pond.
Moanbane – Silsean
Take a 226 degree bearing between these two summits. The descent is through bog and heather and there are no defined trails. The saddle up until Silsean is very boggy and requires some detours if wet. The summit is marked by a wooden post.
Silsean – Oakwood
This is one of the first places where there are major route choices. The following is one option. Take a 200 degree bearing from Silsean summit towards the forest corner at GR O 020 045. Follow the forest edge to tarmac road. Follow fence down to forest corner at GR O 027 029. Follow tarmac road to T-junction between Garryknock Bridge and Ballinagee Bridge. Cross over the road and follow grass / marshy track through the forest. Go through gate and cross stone wall straight ahead. Go to edge of King’s River. As of 2009, there was considerable gorse on the other side of the river. To avoid this gorse, follow the wire fence to your right until you get to a distinct tree (approximately 20 metres away). Cross river here and follow wall until you get to St. Kevin’s Way. Turn left and follow St. Kevin’s Way until you see a stone wall on both sides of the Way (approx. 150 metres). Turn right, up over a bank, and follow wall until you get to a wide forest track (at GR O 032 019) – this short cut can have a lot of ferns from June onwards. Follow forest track under pylons. When track starts to veer left, keep going straight through forest. A stone wall should be on your left, though this is destroyed / partially covered in places. A faint walkers’ track leads you up through the forest, up onto a forest track running perpendicular to you. Turn right and follow this track until you get to a turning circle (visible) on your left. After this circle, there is a flat stone. Go into the forest here and follow the forest ride up on to the start of Oakwood. Do not go into the forest earlier than this, as there is new plantation on the top part of the forest which is impossible to cross. Also, at the end of the forest ride, the fence is not intact unlike elsewhere where it is more difficult to cross.
Follow a 134 degree bearing towards the 599 metre spot height on Oakwood. The climb here is through thick heather and badly uneven bog and marsh. There are no walkers’ tracks on the direct line. From the 599 spot height, there is a faint path running to 619 metre summit, which is marked by a large stone.
Oakwood – Table Mountain
The terrain between Oakwood and Table Mountain is the worst on the Round. The area is very boggy. The bog is rutted into big ditches and bog stacks making it hard to run and difficult to navigate in. The ground can be very wet. There are no walkers’ paths. If the weather is at all bad, the area can become very misty and difficult to navigate in. You may also wish to change to Pat Healy’s 1:25000 map of Glendalough and Glenmalure that shows well the contours in the area (but not paths).
One way to navigate if it is misty is to do the following: Contour round the Glenreemore Brook valley at 620-630 metres. There is a faint path here that runs through the bog from Lough Firrib to Arts Cross, but it is very difficult to find. At the major crag T 142 988, follow a bearing of 284 degrees to Arts Cross (a wooden cross set in concrete) located at 638 metres height. Note that on the Harvey’s map, Arts Cross is not marked properly.
From Arts Cross, follow a bearing of 228 degrees to Three Lakes. You will not see the Lakes until you have arrived at them. Go to the small lake that is located to the west of the larger one. From there, take a 232 degree bearing to the top of Table Mountain. By going to the small lake and taking the bearing from there, you end up on better grassy terrain which is more runnable. From the larger lake, you end up in bog stacks. If you can see Table Mountain, there are vertical ditches that run down its front. Aim for the second one from the left to bring you out to the summit, marked by a cairn.
Table Mountain – Camenabologue
Follow a 170 degree bearing between the two summits. From Table Mountain to the 694 metre spot height at the saddle, the ground is very boggy and rutted and there is no one distinct path. The saddle also has a sign warning people about the firing range below. Climbing Camenabologue, there is a distinct walkers’ track to the summit through bog stacks and grass, with the terrain becoming increasingly stony. The summit is marked by a cairn.
Camenabologue – Lugnacoille
Follow a 172 degree bearing down to the first saddle. This area is very marshy and it is easy to lose the path through the mud. Be careful not to lose shoes here. From there, follow the well worn path through the bog / rocks on a 136 degree bearing until the first major climb. Keep following the path, where it eventually peters out at a height of 840 metres as you reach Lugnacoille. From here, the mountain opens up into a flat grassy sloping plain with the North Prison visible to the right. Be very, very careful here in misty conditions as it is very easy to get lost due to the lack of features on the top of Lugnacoille.
Some walkers’ paths skirt below the summit to reach the path which heads west off the summit. Be sure not to get caught out on these as you can easily travel below and miss the summit. The summit itself is marked by a trig point pillar.
It is critical to climb Lugnacoille during daytime and not during darkness due to the danger posed by the cliffs surrounding this peak and the lack of features for navigation.
Lugnacoille – Corrigasleggaun
Follow a 50 degree bearing off Lugnacoille summit. As the ground begins to rise, take a 110 degree bearing to the 830 metre spot height. A well worn walkers’ path through the short grass leads you from Lugnacoille summit to this point. At the 830 metre spot height (GR T 044 919), there is a knee-height cairn where the path divides. Bear right on a 150 degree bearing towards the saddle at the base of Corrigasleuggan. The descent is through bog and grass. After the saddle, you step up onto a small bog bank at the start of the climb. Follow a 182 degree bearing from there to the cairn summit. There is a faint path to the top, but it is not a problem if you do not find it as the ascent is through short grass.
Corrigasleggaun – Carrawaystick
There are faint walker’s paths (not marked on maps) that head along the ridge to the fence at Carrawaystick, through bog stacks and grass. If you cannot find these, take a bearing of 122 degrees to the fence. It is advantageous to use these paths however as the bog stacks hide visibility and can make the run off Corrigasleggaun disorientating.There is no marker at Carrawaystick summit. The fence can be used as the marker for the summit.
You need to use Pal Healey’s Glendalough and Glenmalure map in order to find your way to off Carrawaystick. After the fence, head towards the plane crash memorial (knee height), then follow the edge of the bog stacks, keeping them to your right. Follow the faint walkers’ path through the bog, though it is very easy to lose this as the path jumps in and out of the bog ruts at times. Keep a bearing of 125 degrees. The path eventually leads you to the top of the descent at 650 metres, slightly to the right of the ridge. This path is around 2 metres wide and can be very wet and slippery under foot. If you do not find the path, you end up descending through thick heather. The path leads you down to a boggy flat section. Keep following the path until you see middle sized bog stacks on your left. The path takes a swift left turn and brings you through these bog stacks (sometimes the path is quite indistinct, so if you can’t see the path, just head towards the bog stacks). This will lead you down a very wet, boggy section to a wooden slate bridge and eventually to a break in the forest at GR T 076 898, which leads you straight on to the forest road.
Turn right and follow the forest road to the first T junction at GR T 078 897. Turn left and descend to the next junction at GR T081 898. Bear right and go through a gate. Follow this forest road east until you get to where the road intersects with the Wicklow Way. Bear left down the Wicklow Way (careful as the Way is not well marked here coming from this direction) and follow the rocky, muddy descent. At the forest road, keep going straight through a forest ride that has been recently made (lots of sticks and logs underfoot). You will come to another forest road. Go left along this road for around 150 metres, then go down through the felled forest to the Military road – careful, it is very rough underfoot here, so difficult to find a good place to descend through. Follow the tarmac road to Drumgoff.
Drumgoff – Mullacor
Follow the tarmac road to Coolalingo Bridge and take the first forest road to your left heading north. At the first junction, do not follow the Wicklow Way, but bear right to follow the forest trail. At the next junction, keep going straight and ignore the forest road to the right. Keep following the trail to the forest trail bend at GR T 098 932. At this bend, there is a small hut. Directly behind it, there is a break in the forest that leads you to the stream and open mountain. After the stream, turn left uphill and, on a bearing of 332 degrees, follow the forest edge through the grass and marsh. At the forest corner, follow the bank and the faint walker’s trail to the top (where there are a series of wooden posts and a bog ditch). The summit is 50 metres to your left through some very wet marsh / bog, and is usually not marked.
Mullacor – Derrybawn
The walkers’ path from Mullacore to Derrybawn is well worn through wet bog and grass, but can be very slippy and muddy. Be careful as there are some rocks also on the path on the descent. This area is not as prone to mist as West Wicklow. Take a bearing of 92 degrees down the initial descent. There is a minor ascent near the pond. Bear right of this pond as it is can be very wet and boggy around this area, and easy to lose a shoe. At the height of 555 metres, the path takes a 120 degree bearing, eventually hitting a stile and fence. Cross the stile and follow the fence, keeping it to your right, (very marshy and muddy area) until it gets to the saddle with Cullentragh Mountain. There is another stile in the fence here. Bear left and follow the path on a bearing of 38 degrees. After an initial descent, follow the Derrybawn ridge (there are minor ascents and descents all along this) on a 38 degree bearing. The path is well trodden and worn out of the bog and has many rocks along it. The summit itself is marked by a cairn.
Derrybawn – Camaderry (NW Top)
Bear left on the summit and follow the worn path down on a 294 degree bearing. Follow the main path as it bears to the left after an initial descent (there is a path that goes straight on at a plateau, but ignore this). The path is quite steep, very rocky and heavily eroded into the hillside. Be careful not to fall. Follow the path over a stile to the forest edge and continue to follow the path down through the forest. Cross straight over the forest track, and continue to follow the path through the forest to the second forest track. When you hit this track, you are now on the Wicklow Way. Turn left on this track, and then bear right over the river and two bridges. After the second bridge, bear right. Follow the forest track as it descends along the side of the river. Leave the track, and follow the stepped path that follows the river until you reach a barrier and tarmac. Cross the parking, and exit the parking at the main gate where the tarmac road is.
Cross the tarmac road, and take the walkers’ path (that starts of GR T 111 965) straight up the side of Camaderry at a bearing of 350 degrees. The path is well worn into the grass. Cross over the forest track and keep ascending through the forest – the path eventually weaves its way up onto open grass land.
At a height of 375 metres, the path bears left through some gorse bushes. It then follows a 270 degree bearing towards a ruined fence on the open mountain ridge. The path is very well worn by walkers and is through bog and stones. There is heather on either side of the path. After the fence, the path ascends in winding manner up to Camaderry SE Top following a bearing of 280 degrees, and then 294 degrees. If wet, this area is very muddy and slippery and the bog is badly rutted. There is a cairn at the summit.
Follow a 312 degree bearing to the start of the next gentle climb towards Camaderry NW Top. This path is wide and rocky, with bog masking the path slightly in parts, but footsteps are always visible. As the terrain climbs, follow a 326 degree bearing to the top. The summit is marked with a large stone formation.
Camaderry – Tonelagee
Follow the path leading down from the summit on a 274 degree bearing. The path is well worn through bog and rocks. At the saddle, the path becomes less distinct through bog stacks, and then reappears through the grass on the climb to Turlough hill (320 degree bearing). Footprints are visible if in doubt. At the Reservoir, bear right and follow the fence – there is a path that runs around on small hillocks on the fence exterior. On the north side of the reservoir, there is a large gate and tarmac road that runs at a 332 degree bearing (full road not marked on Harvey’s map). Take this and join the main tarmac service road. At the first major road bend at GR T 070 997, follow a walkers’ path that leads down to the tarmac road again (short-cut). Follow the road to Wicklow Gap.
At Wicklow Gap, turn right and cross over the road. There is a fence post marking the start of the walkers’ path up Tonelagee after about 100 metres. This path runs at a 32 degrees bearing up to a height of 750 metres through bog and grass. Go to the main path (worn through bog and grass) marked on the Harvey’s map that runs at a 77 degrees bearing. This leads directly to the summit which is marked by a trig point pillar.
Tonelagee – Scarr
Keeping going on a 77 degree bearing and descend to the saddle south of Lough Ouler. This is a steep descent which can be muddy and is very rocky in places. There are multiple paths off the summit. From the saddle, take a 64 degree bearing, and stay just north of the summit of the next minor hill. Be very, very careful navigating here as the path disappears and appears very easily as it passes through bog and marshy areas. At a height of 555 metres, the main path should appear (which is much more distinct) and run all the way to Glenmacnass carpark. If you miss this path, the terrain is terrible – through heather, grass and uneven bog. The final descent into the carpark is very steep, wet and slippery, so take care. Cross over the river and the road.
The start of the path up Scarr is marked by a fence post. It is a very narrow boggy path through grass and runs at a 96 degree bearing all the way to the main path found just south of Kanturk (it gets lost just before the saddle and then reappears again). This next path runs all the way to Scarr and it is well worn and visible. Follow the path south of Kanturk at 170 degree to a minor ascent (561 spot height), then to 129 degree bearing to the fence. After the fence, the ground ascends steeply and is very rocky. Turn right at the top and go to the summit, marked by a cairn.
Scarr – Knocknacloghoge
There are multiple options for travelling between Scarr and Knocknacloghoge. This is one: Retrace your route back to the saddle before Kanturk. Continue on the path in a 350 degrees bearing but, instead of going to Kanturk, descend through the heather to the forest edge at a 332 degree bearing. Turn right and follow the overgrown track along the forest edge. Where the forest changes direction, take the first forest ride (at 351 degrees bearing) down to the forest road. Turn right and follow forest track until it fades out. Turn left and take the forest ride down to the river. Turn right and follow the river to the copse – at times it is better to go just inside the forest because the path along the river is very eroded.
Cross the Inchavore River. Head east and cross over the wire fence. Then follow the fence up to the forest corner. The path marked on the Harvey’s map is very rutted and wet. Other deer paths are available just to the right side of this path, but can be covered and hidden in ferns from June onwards. At the fence corner, take a 42 degrees bearing to Knocknacloghoge summit. In 2009, the heather was still burnt here. After June, ferns can become very overgrown here. There is no clear path up the summit but the ground is mostly open and clear. The summit is on top of a rocky knoll.
Knocknacloghoge – Luggala
Take a 22 degrees bearing to the Cloghoge River. As you descend, keep an eye out for a trail that heads up Luggala and is only visible from afar. As of 2009, the descent off Knocknacloghoge was practically all burnt heather which, though runnable, is very sore on exposed shins. Cross the river. The path is found beside a bank and winds itself up Luggala through thick heather. At times, the path is hidden under the heather. There is no cairn at Luggala summit.
Luggala – Djouce
There are a number of options between these two summits. Here is one: Take ‘the cliff walk’ path straight off the summit at a 44 degree bearing. The path descends and skirts around the cliffs. In places, it is close to the edge. It can also be very boggy and it is rocky in places. As the path veers north, head to the end of the natural forest edge. Finding a safe place to cross the river can be difficult. If alone, heading further upstream may be necessary. Once you’ve crossed the stream, head for the forest corner south east of Sheepsbanks Bridge. By 2009, the forest had been felled, but the felled area is obvious. Cross the road, and follow the felled forest fence line, staying left of it. There is a very narrow path which is hard to find. At the forest corner, head due east. A wide boggy track opens up. At the forest ride, head up Djouce on a 60 degree bearing – there is a very narrow path through the grass from here. Initially the climb is marshy, but as it gets steeps, the climb is just on grass and a path is not necessary. Aim to the right of the rock on top. Follow the metal posts to the track that leads straight to Djouce summit. The summit is marked by a trig pillar.
Djouce – War Hill
Take the north most path as marked on the Harvey’s map at a 298 degree bearing. Follow this path to the saddle just above the coffin stone. This path is barely a path: it is very boggy, uneven and grassed over with no footprints. The saddle itself is very boggy and has bog stacks. Follow the worn trail to the summit on a 344 degree bearing. The summit is marked by a cairn.
War Hill – Tonduff North
Continue on the 344 degree bearing and a faint walkers’ path can be found that heads towards the 526 spot height close to the source of the Dargle River. By taking this and not going straight, better terrain is found. Going straight involves a trek through heather that gets noticeably higher from June onwards. As the path fades into marsh, head straight towards Tonduff South. Initially, the terrain is through marsh and involves stream crossings over streams surrounded by heather. Once the climb towards Tonduff South starts, the terrain becomes grass and easy to travel through.
At Tonduff South (marked by a boulder on top of a bog stack) head on a 12 degrees bearing to Tonduff North. The summit is a cairn on top of a bog stack.
Tonduff North – Prince William’s Seat
There are two routes to Prince William’s Seat – via Crone or the road via Glencree. In 2009, the second option via the road was followed.
From Tonduff North, you can travel straight to the road across Stonecutter’s Glen and Powerscourt Mountain. However, at this stage of the Round, given that the heather is noticeably high on the descent, it may be too rough a terrain for tired legs. Another option to take is to return to Tonduff South. From there, there is a faint walkers’ path down through the bog that leads to the marsh south west of the TS summit. The path then continues towards Stonecutter’s Glen. Instead of following this path, cross the bog ditches to reach the fence posts that run due south of the Glen, just above the Source of the River Liffey. This is a very wet and marshy area. Follow these fence posts to the short track at Liffey Head Bridge, and turn right on the road here. The road descends until close to Glencree. By taking this option, the distance is further than via Crone but the climb is less.
Follow the road to due west of Oldboley’s. Cut into the forest and follow the forest track until the crag (GR O 150 182). Just before the crag, there is a small bog path that climbs on the left. This path eventually runs to just below the boulders below Knocknagun. When the path fades out, climb up through the heather and bog to the marsh between the summits of Knocknagun and Prince William’s Seat. Join the path that connects these two summits and follow it to Prince William’s Seat. The summit is marked by a trig pillar.
Prince William’s Seat – Knocknagun
Return via the same path as you ascended, on a 288 degree bearing towards Knocknagun. The path is very badly rutted, can be boggy and is rocky in parts. Just before the ascent to Knocknagun, the marsh is very deep and wide in places and great care is needed not to lose a shoe in crossing several sections. Stay to the left of the ditch as you ascend Knocknagun. The summit is after the large rock edifice, but is not marked on the mountain.
Knocknagun – Finish
Heading straight to the finish is more direct distance-wise but involves very rough turf-cut terrain. Another option is to take a 256 degree bearing off the summit and to follow back the path to the crag, (the same path that was taken when travelling to Prince William’s Seat). Return to the road via the forest track. At the forest entrance, turn right and follow the tarmac road back to the finish.
NOTE: On Mountain Meitheal’s website, select ‘surveys’ for minute details about the mentioned Wicklow Mountain paths and photos.
2011 UPDATE: Want to read more about the Wicklow Round? Check out my book, “Mud, Sweat and Tears”.