We haven’t hillwalked in a few weeks because of all the awful, wet weather we’ve been having in Ireland and were longing to get out again. We set off to Djouce Mountain (the D is silent, pronounced “jowse”) in Wicklow on Wednesday this week. To get to Djouce from where we parked, you walk on a boardwalk over White Hill, the southern “shoulder” of Djouce. The hill is on the Wicklow Way and therefore very popular; we met about 25 people walking over the space of a few hours so the boardwalk is necessary to protect the hill and vegetation from walker erosion. Boardwalking was new to me but it made the walk so easy it kind of felt like we were cheating. At the start of the boardwalk, we came across the J.B. Malone memorial (above right), overlooking Lough Tay to the south. J.B. Malone was the Father of hillwalking in Ireland and thanks to him, we have the Wicklow Way.
At the summit of White Hill, we noticed a bird flying ahead and landing on the boardwalk, guiding us along. There were several of these birds but I’ve never seen them before, and we only saw them on the hilltop. They were smaller than a blackbird, had yellow and white plummage, a faint orange bib under their beak and a black band across the bottom of their tails. If anyone knows what they were, drop me a line. Edit 22/5/12: The birds were Wheatears
Leaving the boardwalk we climbed Djouce easily enough on the east side of the mountain and took in the amazing views across Wicklow and Dublin. This was the highest summit for me so far, at 725m or 2,379ft, though the gain was only 260m. Djouce is the 90th highest summit in Ireland and my first of the “Top 100 summits” in Ireland. Unlike other summits, it doesn’t have a cairn as such, but it does have a trig stone and a small pile of rocks completed by other walkers. Here’s himself with the trig and Kippure in the background.
I added my own stone to the walker’s cairn before descending the north side, and walking around the base along the Wicklow Way back towards the boardwalk. This was my least favorite part of the walk, because I was nervous of the loose rocks on Djouce and then the narrow path and the slightly steep decline on White Hill. I wouldn’t say my fear of falling is irrational, like say, a fear of clowns or pigeons is irrational. There’s a real danger of falling and hurting yourself, especially when you’re starting to get a bit tired. So, inevitably, I whined a bit but stopped when we met a group of girls on their way up the mountain, one of whom was carrying a baby strapped to her front. :/
I’d highly recommend this walk to anyone new to the sport. The boardwalk makes the trip fairly easy and the views on a summer’s evening at sunset would be phenomenal. You don’t need gaiters and other equipment, but do bring some gloves and warm clothes as you’re a bit exposed on the mountain side. Here’s a blurry map with stats and climb details. Enjoy.