|Battling the wind on Maulin.
I think one of the best things about Dublin is that CountyWicklow
is right next door. “The Garden County,” full of rolling hills, sandy beaches, nice towns, and lots of outdoor activity potential, has been a major weekend destination for me over the years I’ve spent visiting and living in Dublin. Here are two recent weekends I spent there.
In the 1970s, Kev’s grandparents bought a holiday home in a little estate a couple of miles outside of Wicklow
Town. It has since passed to Kev’s parents, and it’s where Kev was lucky enough to spend his summers growing up. Tennis and golf facilities are in walking distance, as is a beach, and lots of fields and cows. I’ve been down there twice, the second time being two weekends ago.
We hung out in Wicklow Town for the afternoon, buying groceries to cook a feast and then sitting in the picture window of The CoffeeShop
having a pre-feast feast and reading the paper while it drizzled outside. I’d only ever driven through the town before, so we walked around for a little bit. Kev was very taken by some black swans (with scary red eyes!) that we found at the river, and he took about 50 photos while I hopped around in the cold. We walked around the grounds of a ruined abbey, now covered in plant life. I loved it so much – I used to think that if I were ever to get married in Ireland it would be at the Mount Usher Gardens (also in Wicklow!), but I changed my mind, definitively, on the spot.
Back at the house we struggled but eventually succeeded at lighting a fire – I love peat briquettes! – and getting the TV to work for some serious late-afternoon lounging. Kev made a fancy pasta sauce from scratch (tasty, but too much cream), and we ate dinner while watching Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny’s speech at his party's (Fine Gael) national conference. (Then for dessert I put on "The Forsyte Saga.") We overate, read our books, and were generally very cozy. Lovely.
Sunday dawned gray and misty, but we went out for a walk anyways. Whenever you go for a walk with Kev, you somehow end up off the path and clinging to the long grass on the side of a cliff overhanging the pounding ocean below. For example, here we are in that situation the first time I visited the Wicklow house, in August 2011:
Surprise surprise, it happened again. The trail was somehow gone after a while, so we spent an hour or so swimming through grass up to my chin, jumping back and forth over barbed wire, and eventually crawling under some bushes so as to cut across a golf course to get back to the road. Such is life.
Then this past Sunday we met up with a few friends to go ona hike,
parking at the Crone car park and, a couple hours later, ending at the top of Maulin. I think. When we described the walk to Kev’s mother she said it sounded like we went up Joust, a larger mountain in the area. Who knows, not me! I do know that I finally got to see the Powerscourt Waterfall (largest in Ireland), got to chat to some really nice people, and only received minimal nettle scratches (because we kept to the path on this
The girls we were with hike a lot more regularly than I do, and could keep up a faster pace than I could, and not a single break! Which was fine except for the very last stretch up to the top of Maulin – let’s just say my stride narrowed to about five inches per step. It was windy enough at the top that you could lean into it and it would support you sideways, and if you dropped anything it was whisked away for good. We stayed just long enough to gnaw on some sandwiches and Mars bars, then headed down.
On the way back, someone started calling the name of one of the people we were with; you can never go anywhere in Ireland without bumping into someone you know, and the same goes for sides of mountains as it does for the city center. It’s pretty amazing.
Muddy, hungry, tired – a great way to finish a Sunday afternoon in Wicklow, especially if you’re headed home to the big Sunday roast back in Dublin!