We met at the car park beside the school since we were so early that the gates weren’t even open. It was 9am on Saturday 31st January and sure only mad eejits would be up and about this early in this weather. We had 16 scouts and 3 leaders today. We loaded up the cars, received directions and were off in convoy along the M1 and M50 from Balbriggan to Killakee. There had been some concern that the road up to Killakee would be impassable due to snow and ice, but Brendan took a spin up the day before to make sure we could get to the start point. When we arrived at Killakee, there was a mad rush to throw the first (but not last) snowball. Fiona stayed with the scouts while Brendan, Alan and the parents who gave lifts did a car drop to Johnny Fox’s, our finish point.
When Brendan and Alan returned, we headed off the road and up on to the Dublin Mountain Way at Pine Forest. It was a beautiful walk through the woods with plenty of snow on the ground. Everyone was in high spirits and there was plenty of chat. The trail through Pine Forest brought us back down to the road at Tibradden. Across the road was Zipit Adventures, a High Ropes Course. We walked right through it looking up at all of the bridges, swings and zip lines. We’ll definitely be back there.
We stopped for a quick break while we were still in the shelter of the trees before starting up the side of Tibradden Mountain. It was quite exposed and windy as we climbed up and we had to be careful about where we stepped due to the icy conditions. We stopped at the passage grave on top to take in the views of Wicklow to the South with a lot more snow than we had.
As we descended, we came to a sheltered area again and decided to stop for lunch. We ducked off the trail into the trees and broke out the Hot Chocolate, Sandwiches and other goodies. It was still bitterly cold so we didn’t hang about too long in case we cooled down too much. We picked up any rubbish and got back onto the trail. I small snowball fight broke out as turned left towards 2 Rock, with one of the girls ending up with snow in her hair (she doesn’t think hats look good on her so didn’t wear one).
Our route took us up along the side of Two Rock onto the Wicklow Way for a while and then up to Fairy Castle. This was probably the toughest part of the hike because it was so windy and exposed. One of the girls twisted her ankle when she slipped on some ice and needed it to be strapped up. It was all worth it though, when we got to Fairy Castle and had uninterrupted views back over Dublin with the Bluest of skies. This was figuratively and actually the high point of the hike. After a few photos, we headed on down the trail to Three Rock. It was there that we had a Snowman building competition. Boys against the girls. The girls won by a mile, sorry lads, and we picked up a new scout called Olaf.
We hiked on along the trail and in the woods (with Brendan spotting new mountain biking trails to try out) and eventually exited the woods about 1.5Km from Johnny Fox’s. We arrived bang on time and were very glad to see that our lifts were there waiting for us. All in we covered about 15Km in 5.5 hours. We all had a great day and would thoroughly recommend hiking this route to any other scout groups interested in it. 89th Bremore is a new Scout Group and this was our first real hike in the mountains. It gave everyone a flavour of what is out there and also of why we need to be prepared for all conditions. Some lessons were learned, but above all else, we had a blast.