PLs & APLs go Hiking
Well it certainly has been a while since we last posted a blog to ley you all know what we have been up to. That doesn't mean that we haven't been doing anything. It simply means that we got a bit lazy and actual scouting took priority during the Covid Pandemic and following year as we tried our best to keep the lights on. Following a very successful Phoenix for us this past Summer, we have be reinvigorated and been running a busy program four our scouts with camps and training right from the kick off in September.
As a reward for our PLs & APLs for doing such a fantastic job already this year, we decided to bring them on a hike to have out next PLC. We met early on Saturday morning and hopped in the cars to drive to Wicklow. We were headed for Djouce. None of our scouts had been there before and we thought it would be a great route. We dropped a car at Djouce Woods and continued on down to Ballinastoe Woods to begin the walk. It was busy there with plenty of Mountain bikers and walkers. The rain started immediately and we had to stop after only 200m to put the rain gear on. Luckily, by the time we got out of the woods and up on the JB Malone route, the rain had stopped and we were treated to spectacular views of Lough Tay, Luggala and beyond.
The rain may have stopped, but the wind didn't. Lough Tay is a very popular spot as you can see. It is where they filmed the TV show Vikings, so it gets a lot of tourists. It is on the Wicklow Way as well so it is very popular with hikers and hillwalkers. We stopped for some obligatory photos and then continued along the boardwalk heading North.
The views along the route over White Hill are simply amazing. You can see down to Glendalough in the South, Lambay Island to the North, past Kippure to the planes of Kildare when looking West, and Killiney, Bray and the Wicklow coastline to the East. The boardwalk makes it easier to trek across the boggy terrain, but it is also there to protect the landscape and minimize the effect the many hikers have on it as well.
By the time we got to the summit, another bad of rain had come in so we took what shelter we could behind the rocks there. We didn't stay too long. Just time enough for a quick snack as it was very cold in the wind and rain.
We pretended that there was a whiteout so that we could use our map and compass skills to navigate our way down from the top of the mountain. It's always way better to use these skills in the real world rather than in the scout hall at a weekly meeting as it definitely gives a better understanding of the skills involved. The top part of the decent was very rocky and nobody fell on their ass, did they Sue? Trekking poles were a welcome addition to help those who were struggling on the rough terrain. Lower down, the path gets grassy and spongy underfoot, which makes for lots of fun running as fast as you can and trying to catch up to yourself before falling.
We took shelter from he wind in the woods at the top of the Red Road in Djouce Woods. Ultan had made banana bread for everyone the night before, and it was delicious. Thanks Ultan. We discussed what the next program cycle should be and it was decided it would be pioneering. We had a chat about Shield and how and when to start training for it. Everyone is getting excited for that. We also discussed repeating this hike later in the year with the whole scout section and making it an overnight expedition. There was a lot of enthusiasm for that suggestion. The PLs & APLs let us know that all was going well in the scout section, which is always nice to hear and that they were happy with the progress that we are making considering we have so many new scouts this year.
We cleared up after lunch - LEAVE NO TRACE - and continued on down the Red Road deeper into the woods. We met an elderly gent walking back up the trail. We had passed him earlier in the day while he was on his way down Djouce and we on our way up. He was not quite sure how to get back to his car so he was going to retrace his steps. We knew that he wasn't actually that far away and that it was on our route so he tagged along with us grateful for the assistance and for saving him having to climb all the way back up the mountain.
We took a few detours in the woods to find some Mountain Biking trails and try some of the jumps (without the bikes) for a bit of fun. We zig zagged our way along the trails and bushwhacked for a bit on some older overgrown trails before picking up the road again for the short walk to the Calvey Car park where Su had left her car. She brought Brendan and Lizzy back to Ballinastoe to pick up their cars to save us all walking for 5k along a boring road.
As we always say, a bad day on the hills is better than a good day in the office, and this was a great day on the hills. We'll keep you updated with more blog posts over the coming months just so that you can hear about what we have been getting up to. For now though, wrap up warm as January continues. See you all real soon.