Carton House – The red route.

Last year when we went to Carton House for Easter i was extremely sick the full time we were there from my Arthritis medication. We decided to go back this year when we could really enjoy it.

They have two walking routes of the grounds and both are truly beautiful and so peaceful. This post is about the red route. We completed this route already last year but i could only walk a few steps at a time and was in a lot of pain so couldn’t enjoy it properly so we decided to do it again this year on Easter morning.

We got up early and after a gorgeous breakfast in the Linden Tree restaurant we went out for a morning stroll. The weather was perfect for it, the sun was beaming and warming, as it was still early morning it was a comfortable temperature and not too hot.

Coming through the golf house courtyard and under the archway you will see a little wooden sign post up ahead. If you take a left at the sign post and follow the path around it starts to take you on a gentle uphill walk through the golf course. As you get to the top of the hill you will see on the left a little white shack that has toilets in and a vending machine out front for some cold drinks or snacks which was very welcome on such a warm day!

We stopped off for drinks and then kept following the path along to Tyrconnel Tower. The tower was built by Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnel who was the viceroy between 1687 & 1689 and was actually born at Carton House. The tower, the trees, the freshly cut grass & the sunshine really made this walk one to remember, but i’ll let the pictures do the talking…

After the tower, the walk comes down towards some forest on the left hand side and if you keep walking that opens up to the river running through the grounds. We actually took a little detour off the red route here just to walk down to the river & the little bridge crossing. We were the only people in sight and it was so serene and quiet. It was actually at this point where i thought, You know what? This is why people play golf. Imagine waking up early and coming out on to a golf course as beautiful as this one. The T for this hole was up on the ridge beside the walking trail, and the hole was across the other side of the river and bridge, it was just the most beautiful and tranquil setting. I can imagine it to be almost like a meditation, being out in that setting in nature, nobody else around you, focusing on making the shot. The only sounds are the wind, the birds & your own breath. Maybe i’ll take up golf one day, who knows?

We made our way back on to the route and under the cover of some trees for the last part of the trail. I remember this part of the trail being very muddy last year but the weather wasn’t as good as it was this year. Still though there were muddy patches even though we had a very dry few days so i’d recommend wearing shoes you can easily wipe down just in case. The path winds slowly back down through the trees and then after after a few minutes comes out beside the lake and boathouse.

Fun fact about the lake at Carton House. Queen Victoria actually came to stay at Carton House, twice, many years ago. After her first visit, she had a dream that she was in a boat out on a lake at Carton House. There was no lake at Carton House during this time, so they actually built a lake especially for the Queen before her second visit, to make her dream come true.

This walk took us around hour to complete as we were really taking our time and just enjoying a gentle stroll around in the sunshine. It could be done in half an hour if you were walking at a regular pace as it the route is only 3km. If you only have time for one of the walking trails at Carton House i’d recommend making it this one, you won’t be disappointed.

Map of the walking trails from the Carton House brochure & website –

Capture

Ticknock – Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday we made an impromptu stop at Ticknock on our way home from Maynooth. We were away at Carton House hotel for the Easter break & on our way back home we were driving right past Ticknock & Stuey had the idea to finish off our weekend with a hike since the weather was so good. We stopped off at Chopped for a smoothie and Subway for a sandwich to refuel, then made our way over to the gorgeous forest recreation area.

The car park for the forest winds up past a little wooden cafe, all the way up and around bringing you right to the entrance of the hiking routes. We parked up and made our way to the starting point, it was very easy to find and had big wooden sign posts with maps of the area and different routes. We decided to do the green route which is 5.5km long & loops back to the starting point. We didn’t opt for the longer yellow route as we had already completed a 3km walk of Carton House grounds after breakfast, but we will definitely be back to complete the yellow route another day.

21 degrees out, not a cloud in sight & a 45-50 minute steady paced incline to start the hike was tough. Especially as this was already our second walk of the day. The route was easy enough to follow, the forest was very beautiful & the sun was beaming, it was tough going but we really enjoyed it. The first part of the trail was actually a road through the forest that leads you up to the top where the satellite towers are. When you get up to that point the view is absolutely incredible, with views right across Dublin from Howth all the way down to Dun Laoghaire. City views, sea views, mountain views & mountain air. What more could you ask for?

We got a little bit confused at this point as the sign post at the top had an arrow pointing to the right for the green route, but the way it was positioned (to the left of a path going straight on) really made us wonder if we were supposed to go straight and not right. On the other side of the sign post we could see a different coloured arrow, which pointed up the straight road, so we decided if they were both to go straight on then both arrows would be positioned the same and they weren’t. The situation was confused even further by the fact that when we turned right there was another sign (just in marker) saying walkers this way and an arrow directing all to go straight ahead instead of right. We decided to ignore the sign in marker and we took the right turn as logic suggested this was the way. The right turn took us to the end of a wide pathway and we could see a gate at the end with another signpost so then we knew we had made the right choice. Thinking back i really should have took a picture of this, but i hope i explained it well enough !

Going through the little gate you start up a narrow rocky path with the forest all along the right hand side. We had to stop under the shade of some trees here as the heat was exhausting us, this section really as tough going and we were both very tired at this point. After our little rest we kept going though and the trees to the right eventually thinned out until it was just mountain & views on either side. As soon as the cover from the trees was gone it was veryyyyy WINDY. Not just a little bit, but seriously windy. Luckily the sun was out and even with the wind it was very warm, i can imagine doing this walk on a regular day would be very cold because of the wind so if you ever try it make sure to take a windbreaker or extra layers.

We made it to the summit which is known as ‘fairy castle’ and is marked by a stone cairn. We didn’t stick around for long but just kept going following the route along. After the summit the path just gently slopes back down and around. First just through the open land at the top and then it turns right to go back down towards the forest. The walk back down was very pleasant and seemed to take no time at all. The path was a little rocky at the start of the descent but then evened out very quickly and wound back through the trees again. The trail eventually brings you back out on to the same road as the starting point, just a few meters down.

It took us around 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete the entire route. We definitely took our time on the way up but we more than made up for it on the way back down with a very fast pace. This was a beautiful hike, the forest and views were amazing and it was the perfect was to finish off our Easter weekend. I’m already looking forward to going back to Ticknock and doing the longer yellow route another time.

The Avonmore Way / Clara

Anyone ever bought a car with the intention of ‘this means i can start walking more’?

Living so close to the Wicklow mountains but not having a car to drive in and do the trail routes was always a pain point of mine. Now that we have a car and my leg is finally healing after my surgeries we couldn’t wait to get out in to the mountains for some exercise, fresh air & views. Stuey & I set the intention to complete ALL of the hiking/trail walks in the Wicklow mountains. How long will this take? I have no idea. How many trail walks are there? I also have no idea! Regardless, we will complete them ALL, however long it takes. Of all the intentions/goals i have ever set, i think i’m most exited about this one.

We set out on Sunday to do the Vale of Clara forest walk, but we ended up doing 1/2 of the avonmore way instead. It was very difficult to find the route’s for the vale of clara.. we drove down the R755 laragh to rathdrum direction, looking for that beautiful white church and bridge in so many photos. Driving in the same direction look for Clara Lara fun park on the left hand side, keep driving past the fun park and a few minutes later you will see a small sign on the left saying Clara RC Church and a very steep slope down. Take that left and drive down to the bottom of the steep bank. You have arrived in Clara!

What a beautiful & picturesque tiny little village. The river, arched bridge, church & nature make for some really breathtaking scenery. We didn’t drive over the bridge we actually parked just in front of the big house at the bottom of the bank. We were unable to find the starting routes for the Vale of Clara walks, however looking back on maps afterwards we should have walked over the bridge and took a right up that steep road to get to the start. Instead we went in to the gates of the church, around the back of the church building, and saw a stick with a yellow man & arrow on directing us on to the starting point for ‘The Avonmore Way’ trail.

We followed the Avonmore way route up a steep woodland path through the trees. The path was very clearly marked throughout so once one the Avonmore way route it is impossible to get lost. On our way up to Clara the rain was torrential however by pure luck as soon as we started on the route the sun came out and stayed with us for the entire walk. We were blessed with that ‘after rain earth smell’ & sunshine glistening through the trees all at once, it was truly beautiful.

We were laughing and strolling along seeing how high we could throw sticks and acorns when we spotted two wild deer up ahead. It was so unexpected. We stopped to watch them as we didn’t want to frighten them but after a minute or two they caught wind of us and leapt off in to the mossy forest, it was so magical. Seeing wild deer was not what we set out to do but it was sooo very welcome.

The forest walk itself was like something out of a fairytale, we kept stopping just to take it all in or to take a few photos. The green moss across the rocks & forest floor, the tiny little streams trickling & winding their way through the flora, the sun beaming down through the foliage and highlighting the little ponds on the forest floor. It really has to be seen to be believed, the beauty of this place is something else.

After some time walking through the forest the trail made it’s way out on to a tarmac road (unlike the grassy forest road we were previously on). We walked around to the white house overlooking the mountains and the view from the road up there was so worth the trip, nature is incredible. If we continued on the yellow marked route this would have took us another 2 hours and lead us towards Rathdrum. As we had the car parked down at Clara church we couldn’t walk 2 more hours to finish this trail and then 3 hours to get back, so we turned around at this point and followed our same route back down.

At the starting point of the trail we noticed a few little signs pointing to another path saying ‘our Lady’s statue’, so on our way back down we took a little de tour up this path and we were not disappointed. If you are visiting this area i would strongly recommend visiting the statue. The statue itself was very beautiful and was overlooking the Church and river. At night time the statue must be lit up as there was flood lights underneath, i would love to go back and see her at night one day. The view from up there was also so breathtaking, i’m so glad we decided to follow that little sign and wander up. There’s a little bench behind Mary so we sat down for a few minutes and just soaked up the sunshine and fresh mountain air. So peaceful and quiet, i never wanted to leave.

We’re definitely going to go back and do the full Avonmore way route, but we will wait until the summer when the days are longer and warmer since it would be a total of 6 hours there and back. We’ll also go back and take the right turn up the road past the church and do the original Vale of Clara walks (the ones we set out to do in the first place). I found the directions / explanations of how to find the VOC routes were not clear at all and very confusing so when we do those routes i’ll make sure to be as descriptive of possible to help you all find your way.

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