Annoyed at how the winter has dragged on? Well don’t just sit there – embrace your icy nemesis!
By Nicole Buckler
Rather than whining about how cold it is, and trying to give the radiator random sneaky hugs, how about embracing the big freeze by meeting it head on? (For the purposes of full disclosure, I type this from my warm office.)
Well, these crazy campers did…and they froze themselves on a blissful walk of beauty, fresh air, and probably frozen lungs. And they did this as the weather forecast said to avoid the Wicklow Gap at all costs. Well it takes more than a whiney warning from a fully qualified weather scientist to break an Irishman’s stride. Their walk had fantastic views and they had a great excuse for hot whiskeys after the fact. I don’t need any excuse to drink hot whiskes but these people obviously did.
Stephen Gentleman, Harry Forster and Marion Pierce decided to leave the warm sofa and murder a freezing mountain with their feet. Says Stephen, “For this walk we parked above Lough Tay and hiked up towards Djouce Mountain. I took these pictures on my phone with a not-at-all-special camera on it. I am not expecting any photographic awards on the back of them! Just pics of a good time.”
Djouce is the Anglicisation of the Irish Dioghais, meaning “fortified height”. It is a mountain in the northeastern section of the Wicklow Mountains. To the west it overlooks the highlands around the Sally Gap; to the east the Roundwood and the Calary Bog plateau. Other natural features include the River Dargle, which runs to the North. It is the source of the Liffey which runs through Dublin City. The south and east are heavily forested with Sitka Spruce plantations.
This is a hugely scenic walk, which must be Instagrammed at once, and the brilliant thing about this route is the ‘boardwalk’ that guides you. You won’t get lost in the Wickow Hills and have to convince a sheep to let you hug it to stay warm. The boardwalk is made from old railway sleepers, and wrapped in chicken wire to provide grip in icy conditions. It was originally built to keep people to one path and stop them damaging the hills randomly, and this has allowed the scrub and heather to regenerate. Although it is scenic and you can’t get lost once on the boardwalk, you could be plagued by gusty winds that threaten to blow your wig off should you be wearing one.
Along the way you can enjoy magnificent views of Dublin Bay, the Sugarloaf Mountain, and Wicklow Harbour. And when you get to the top, the trig rock is one hell of a picturesque place to take a snap. Remember the selfie stick, which can also be used as a weapon to fight off randy rutting deer. If you are lucky the clouds will come in low and you’ll feel like a wet seagull, flying above the billowing mass, looking for unattended chips.
While our troopers decided to ignore the cold go forth anyway, they couldn’t complete the course, as the weather closed in and started to be mean to them. Says Stephen, “About two-thirds of the way there we beat a dignified retreat as the conditions became pretty terrible, extremely windy and very icy underfoot. There are better ways to get in the newspaper than having to be rescued! We only saw a few other walkers up there; all seemed to be turning back as it was not worth the risk.” But it was entirely worth it for these great photos. “We probably spent 2.5 hours on that chilly little walk. We didn’t keep an eye on the temperature, but it was cold enough that I decided to pull my big woolly hat down over my face and cut eye holes in it balaclava-style so as not to freeze my face off!” Robbing a bank would have been the next logical move if there had have been any in the vcinity.
And after all of the walking where did our frozen walkers end up? “We headed in to the Coach House where we warmed our posteriors by the fire and enjoyed some fine fish soup and a nice atmosphere.”
Go on people, get out there in the cold and do good things for your body. I’m cheering you on from the midst of my warm Netflix binge.