Wonderful sleep in a comfortable bed and room. We awoke about 7:30 a.m. and were out for breakfast by 8:00 a.m. in Madge Kenny's solarium, a lovely room that looked out on her nasturtiums. Unfortunately, it was drizzling. We were also concerned that the B&B at Moyne had not returned Madge's call from the previous evening. She assumed that no one was there and suggested driving us to Moyne where we could start on the next stage to Glenmalure. We opted for this, after successfully booking ahead at the Glenmalure Inn.
After settling with Madge (€100) and delivering her grandson to the house next door, we were on our way through hilly countryside to Moyne. We suspected Madge thought we were a little old to carry our packs to Glenmalure since she delivered us a little further along the way where the Wicklow diverged from the road at a stile. Bon and I thanked her warmly and off we went in very cloudy weather starting about 9:50 a.m. Despite weather we could see across the valley and to the hills beyond.
We soon came to a dirt road that zigzagged a couple of times through a newly planted forest of spruce trees which allowed views of the valley. It mounted entering a forest and later descending to an old stone bridge (Ballytiege Bridge). Here we walked on a road next to some sheep and cow pastures, turning sharply to the right to descend to the Iron Bridge spanning the Ow River. There were views of the mountains on both sides of the river valley set off by the green pastures along the river.
From the river the trail mounted quite steeply for a long stretch up Carrickashane Mountain (I remember saying to Bon for the first of many times, “Don’t look up!”). We circled about half way round the mountain as a few short patches of blue sky opened above, but as we mounted to Flags Pass in mossy forest, the wind picked up and the rain started. At the top it was really blowing.
We then descended a muddy and damp trail out of the forest on to a road which crossed over a small gorge. The path ran along side the road in a sheep's pasture filled with heather. When we turned into the forest the rain came on in earnest. Entering a mossy wet boreen at the forest edge, we flushed a ring-necked pheasant.
The trail zigzagged a couple of times and just before going up Slieve Maan where we could see it would be wet and windy, we stopped deep in spruce woods for a damp picnic. The trees were full grown and about 6 to 8 feet apart; the ground was soft pine needles and almost no rain came through. We sat on my poncho and ate our bread and cheese. After about half an hour and we were back on the trail by about 2:15 p.m.
We were extremely cold after stopping and eating – particularly our hands. It must have been in the low 40's and rainy, but the walk uphill soon warmed us up.
The forests were more like Maine now – granite rocks began to appear and moss lined the road. After a long stretch the road turned into a wet boreen, with slippery rocks and tree roots. I was down on my rear end before I knew it, fortunately falling on my pack. The path changed back to a road and we passed through a gate by a roaring stream (Clohernagh Brook). We were now a little tired and zigzagged downhill several long legs to our destination of Glenmalure and the town of Drumgoff. Some sheep welcomed us on the final stretch where they were foraging ferns.
We passed the ruin of an old Irish stone house which I photographed. As we re-crossed the stream, the hills were hazy from the rain but the mixtures of muted greens and browns contrasted with the grassy greens of the valley.
We then passed a large stone ruin which had been an old English barracks. The Irish had fought the English successfully in these hills and to counter this, the English built a road and a series of barracks which were little used. The old barracks had a high wall around it with houses built at the rear edge next to the road.
It was raining again quite hard as we turned the corner for our inn, Glenmalure Lodge. We were wet when we arrived and glad to be out of the elements. A pleasant woman showed us to a comfortable room and sent up a pot of hot tea. We had covered about 13 and three-quarter miles – a hard going much of the way.
We had one of our nicest dinners ever - Bon and I conversed with a fellow at the bar over a Smithwicks and some wine and then settled in to a table for dinner, which we pulled right in front of a fireplace with cheery fire. Over some great burgers, we talked hiking and our enjoyment of it.
Our agreeable waitress talked about hurling and the women’s equivalent, Camogie (which she had played). A few men chatted at the bar eating and drinking as a soccer game played in the background on TV. Bon looked lovely – we both had rosy complexions from walking in the cold. We went up to the room by 9:30 p.m. – a very pleasant evening.
Copyright 2002 Donald R. Chauncey - All rights reserved