Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wicklow Way Day 1.Marley Park to Knockree

Overall distance 132 km & ascent 3,200m

Day 1: Distance 21km ascent 600m.Trail made up of park paths small section of public road but mostly on track.
                                  Grainne striding along the Wicklow Way day 1

Looking at down into Glencree. Typical WW signage on right. 

Though I always knew I'd do it one day the Wicklow Way wasn't on the top ten of my walking list at all. The raison d'etre for this walk was Grainne's determination to knock it off her 'Bucket list' As she was a complete novice she wanted someone to go with her and though I  can't quite remember doing it I must have said "yes" at some stage.
                                         'Just when did I agree to this?'

We started on Monday the 9th at the official starting point in Marley park Dublin. As I'm unfit and Grainne is fit but new to the game we took 7 days to walk to the route to it's official end at Clonegal. The trail could be walked in a vigorous 5 days or a 'Germanic' 3 but we took the 'doucement' approach. The Wicklow Way is very well signed throughout it's length with only one unclear turning on the 4th day. At the start there is an overlapping of the route with the Dublin Mountain Way and, as the graphic for both walks is a little yellow hiker, you have to be a little careful on day 1 to check which initials (WW or DMW) appears below the schematic. The path and markings are  maintained and repaired in fine order by the voluntary group Mountain Meitheal. In fact we found we could, barring seriously bad weather, have walked the whole way without using map or guide if we had wished (we  had maps and a compass in case of course- as should anyone walking the WW)We used Ordnance Survey of Ireland Discovery Series maps scale 1:50 000 numbers 56 and 62-didn't need no 63 as it only covers the last well signed few km of the route into Clonegal) The weather was pretty wet windy and blustery with occasional welcome 'breaks' in the weather. 
After a short stroll through the park (literally) it's pretty much straight up and over to Glencullen with another up and over down to Glencree and a short climb through Cuttlestown wood to Knockree. If you were camping Cuttlestown wood might be a good spot as camping by the Glencree river is policed due to littering caused by some parties of kids coming out from the city to 'party'
We stayed at the Youth Hostel which practically on the Way and it does have cooking facilities. The hostel is great and has coffee and tea facilities 24/7 and the staff were really warm and helpful. I'd advise against taking a taxi into Enniskerry (a steep 15 euro each way for a 5km journey) as we did and would cook up at the hostel. The rooms available for smaller parties are very comfortable with showers en suite. The hostel is seasonal and opens in April to September. We 'knocked off the 1st part of the next days route by walking the 'dog leg' down and along by the Glencree River.This is a lovely section and we enjoyed the (rare) evening sunlight after dinner. It also allowed us to head 'straight down' the hill from the hostel the next morning and avoid backtracking
This is a memorable start to the walk and gives you enough of a 'workout' to prepare you for the next three days.

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