Had a phone call from a good friend in Athy , Clifford Reid earlier in the day , asking that if the weather was with us , might we take a stroll up the hills in wicklow as it was due to be a full moon.
A quick text to Tin Norris to drag him along , and we had a crew.
The weather reports were being looked at with severe focus in the run up to leaving for the hills , and we said we'd take the trip over to Donard and see what the roads were like before heading up and making a final decision.
Well , the gods were with us last night , Cold as it was , -7 was forecast , the roads were passable and the snow was lightly falling and only in short bursts.
We parked up the car at a spot Clifford knew , and spent 10 minutes surveying the weather , a last listen to the weather forecast on the radio and decided to head on up.
We started off on forest track , with a few farmyard gates to traverse, one of them had a heavily pregnant sheep lying in a pool of water looking like she was ready to give birth, She looked uncomfortable ,so we gently moved her out of the water and watched her for another 5 minutes, She did not stir ,except fr urinating , which we wondered might her "water of broke" while we were still there. After about 5 minutes standing around in the cold , the ewe looked like nothing was going to be happening any time soon , and as she had not moved ,she looked like she had settled down for the evening. We moved on ,saying if we came back close to her on the route back to the car that we would look in on her.
For another 20 minutes or so we continued on forest trails , , we were walking in a clock wise direction around the hill's. When we came out of the forest and headed up to the ridge the snow really began to come down hard. Drifts were not that bad , we could still make out the ridge trail. As we moved along the trail , it was nice to see the lights of the towns below us and in the distance, the snow was beginning to ease off.
We got startled several times along the ridge by what we think were grouse. There were plenty of signs up to about some wildlife preserve or something, To be honest it was hard to make out what they really said as they were pasted in snow. But my god , there was some racket as the birds would become startled by the oncoming head torch's , they would fly up squawking and make there way to another part of the strange landscape . Normally they usual Moorish home now resembled something like you'd see on the lunar landscape. The moon was now beginning to make its presence know in between a few clouds and driving snow horizontally came across the land.
By now we were in the gentle assent towards Lowbawn , and this is where the Gods appeared to be on our side. The snow stopped and the clouds cleared .
This is where we entered heaven .
We turned off all our torch's , there was enough light to proceed by the full moon. We looked around and could make out the trees that grow on the run up the hill . Solitary soldiers , on guard 24/7 , black against the mountain line of Kadeen and Lugnaquilla . Mind you Lug was having a nasty time, a huge snow storm was covering her for most of the night , we really did not get to see much of Lug.
we stopped for a few minutes to take in the moonlight scenery , and Clifford whisperd out ,pointing to the top of Lowbawn . Across the top of Lowbawn was a heard of deer , in full gallop , rising clouds of powder snow behind them ,rushing from west to east. They must of being taking advantage of the lull in the weather to get to more shelter.
It was a sight I will never forget , 15 to 20 deer , silhouettes on the horizon , bathed in moonlight galloping about 100 meters in front of us.
We got over Lowbawn and continued towards Sugarloaf. Not the Sugarloaf of my childhood , near Bray , but the one near Donnard in West Wicklow.
Those Gods who provided us with that half a hour of clear sky's must of finished their tea break and got back to the business of Siberian storms. They sent the snow , loads of it , thankfully now it was at our backs and we only had to pick out way and avoid frozen bog holes. These can be fairly slippy when you can't tell if the drifting snow in front of you have a small frozen puddle in it. every thing was getting covered in snow at this point.
The decent from Sugarloaf is not for the faint hearted . Its steep ,
That steep decent from Sugarloaf really took it our of us. My legs really felt it, we were now homeward bound , and had talked about going up to see how the ewe was, we decided not to , there was not much we could do for her at 11:30pm at night , so fingers crossed she gave birth to one or two lambs and they are all doing well.
The walk we did is graded a easy , but as we did it at night , in the snow , in -7 to -10 , with a very steep snow covered decent at the end , I;d be inclined to upgrade that assessment of easy
We did manage to get a few photos taken that night , not sure what you will think of the quality , lets just say , "The gods were keeping something back for themselves" and we had not the best of conditions for photography.
Some of my stories and ramblings
Beekeeping as a Hobby - find out more here