Looking at the guidebook Lough Tay to Lough Dan at 6km seemed a short walk in comparison to the sections we completed up to now. Therefore we decided to complete Crone Wood to Lough Tay and carry on to Lough Dan thus completing two stages in one long walk. Big mistake!!
What the guidebook i think left out is the walk from Lough Tay to the start of next stage and also the extra couple kilometres from Oldbridge to Lough Dan, what we didn't consider was the altitude gain in the first 12 kilometres and the toll it took, in hindsight we could have left the next stage until another time. Especially considering we started in the afternoon and walked until nightfall :( no celebration pints for us!
Having said all that once completed the sense of achievement when we completed these stages was great and we slept well.
Crone Wood was a lovely start straight up the side of a hill through the forest, We had parked outside the main car park knowing it would be a late return. Lungs and leg muscles pumped we were delighted when we reached the path and a more level walk for a time. The walk from Crone Wood has some special views over Powerscourt Waterfall, and are not to be missed, especially on the higher sections.
We reached a high point having passed Powerscourt valley and then realised we needed to go back down before ascending again toward Djouce mountain in the distance. This gave us a chance to catch our breath and carefully descend to the picturesque valley and the intersecting river, at this point I wished I'd brought a tent to camp over as the scene was lovely and I can imagine at sunrise or sunset it would be epic!!
Above PowerscourtLooking out to Djouce across the valley, another climb ahead
With no tent and halfway to Lough Tay there was no turning back, we breathed in the clean mountain air and set off up the hillside again with the mighty Djouce in view. Lots of stops for water and ease tired legs followed. Passing some grazing sheep and two ultra runners heading North we finally reached Lough Tay and a well earned bite to eat. The view over Lough Tay is always incredible to me, dark peat water and white sandy beach, the home of the Guinness family with a lake to prove it. We sat beside the stone inscribed J.B. Malone, the man credited with devising the Wicklow Way walking route, and enjoyed a sandwich and a chocolate bar. Bliss.
With no going back and the daylight drifting away we got on our feet and started for the trail to Lough Dan and Oldbridge. We'd no choice now but to keep moving. The walk from the J.B. Malone stone to the pier gates follows some trails and at times unclear which way to turn, a couple of times we passed sections that would have left us walking along the road side, instead found ourselves travelling on a boardwalk through a dark forest trail. We found the road crossed over and started along the forest road which for the most part was quiet and not super interesting though maybe we were more concerned with reaching the car.
The guidebook there was to be a section of forest path up a small hill that promised a viewing point of Lough Dan. I hoped to find this as the sunset looked spectacular, unfortunately I did not and we carried on. At one point the Way veers off the gravel road and up and over a hill, I really wondered as it seemed to bring us through a thorny tight rocky trail when the road quite possibly is what we met on the other side. With tired minds and weary feet we trampled along the last few kilometres to the edge of a farmers field, past some sheep, and finally came to the road from Roundwood to Oldbridge, with our phones for flashlights we stayed tight to the edge of the road and pottered along until we finally set sight on the bridge and the hope of the car only a few hundred metres more. Too late for a pint at home we fell into our bed and slept till noon.
The next section we travel from Lough Dan to Glendalough, a lovely walk with forests, mountain shelters, pesky midges in the low areas, beautiful scenery of the surrounding mountains and lakes from the higher midge free zones.
Did I say I hate midges :)
Reaching Glendalough we'll have travelled 53 kilometres of our adventure, in only four outings, this includes 1610 metres of ascent. Not bad!!