When: 4-7 Sept

Present: Marion (organiser), Mark, Joanne, Steve L, Ian, Richard N, Sarah, Belinda, Will, Rhoda, Bob, Dave H, Nicola

Location: Kippure Estate, County Wicklow

The majority of the group met up at Heathrow on Thursday evening, for a trouble-free journey to Dublin. Marion and Mark were waiting for us at the airport, and once we’d picked up the hire cars we set off for the Wicklow mountains. A leisurely pub stop en route meant it was gone midnight by the time we reached our accommodation, two very nice self-catering houses which were positively luxurious for an NMC trip.

We were very glad of the shelter on Friday morning: when we saw the weather, the general consensus was “Thank God we’re not camping”. Apparently there was a mountain view from the estate, but all we could see was a large amount of cloud, even greater amounts of rain, and the raging torrents of the Liffey. Nevertheless, we got ourselves into the waterproofs and out of the house, and went to tackle the challenges of Russborough, with the assistance of a guide for the tricky parts. After a much-needed stop for sustenance, the return route turned out to be blocked by the aforementioned raging torrents, which meant a considerable detour (just the 10km or so).

Irish culture.

Upwards at Glendalough.

The bridge at the top.

Later in the day we drove back into Dublin, for dinner, a few drinks, and the opportunity to play tourist. Some visited the Guinness brewery and Dublin Castle, and those who went to see the Dara O’Briain live show learned a lot more about Irish culture, particularly the delights of the Tayto crisp. The journey back, in unrelentingly lousy weather, was a challenge for the designated drivers, especially Belinda who saw rather more of Dublin’s suburbs than she wanted.

Saturday morning was still wet, but at least the mountains were beginning to show themselves. Nicola remained resolutely positive that it would clear up, and her optimism seemed to be paying off as we reached Glendalough for a 10km circuit. Nonetheless, we all started out in full waterproofs – Bob staked a claim for the Sartorial Elegance award with his orange jacket, green trousers and scarlet gaiters making him look like a mixed-up traffic light. The walk started along the old miners’ track through the woods, and then progressed to a climb up the side of a stream (quite a large stream, after all the rain) into the Glenealo Valley by way of a steep path and some scrambling over boulders. Once at the top, the track continued on a boardwalk so we could avoid the peat bogs, and gave us some great views to the surrounding hills. We then returned via the impressive Poulanass waterfall, and warmed ourselves up with a coffee in the local hotel, who seemed happy to fit us in around a wedding reception.

On the boardwalk.

At the end of Saturday’s walk.

View from the houses.

In the evening we ate at a local Italian restaurant and celebrated Bob’s birthday (let’s just say his age now begins with a 5 and ends with a zero). Nice meal, although there was some debate over whether some of the wine was a little… faulty. Bob was probably expecting the singing, but was surprised by the cake, which we presented to him in the estate bar later on while gatecrashing our second wedding of the day.

Sunday morning dawned and we could hardly believe we were in the same place: sunshine, mountain views, the gentle flow of the Liffey. We packed up and drove to Howth, north of Dublin, for a coastal walk, fantastic ice cream, some seal-spotting, and plenty of opportunity for Rhoda to use her new camera. It was then an early dinner (fish and chips seemed popular) before going to the airport for that final Guinness for some, and a nasty shock for Richard when he realised he’d booked the flight that arrived at 8.15pm rather than the one that departed at that time. (He got onto the 8.15 flight, but unfortunately not for the price of a pint of Guinness.)

Bob blows his candles out.

Accommodation and transportation.

Group shot at Howth.

An excellent trip, which I probably can’t do justice to in a few paragraphs. Ireland 2008: ya had to be there…

Sarah Davies

Related Images:

This entry was posted in Reports. Bookmark the permalink.