Footfalls Wicklow Walking Festival

Co. Wicklow ‘The Garden of Ireland’, is renowned worldwide for its scenic beauty, offering a variety of walking challenges – from woodlands and rolling hills to wild craggy mountain climbs. The county lies just south of Dublin on the East Coast of Ireland. It is home to the largest area of unbroken high raised ground in Ireland, covering almost the same area as that of Mont Blanc, approximately 50km long by 40km wide.

For 2011, Footfalls Wicklow Walking Festival will run from Friday the 28th until Monday the 31st of October.

The Festival will be based in the Brockagh Resource Centre. The Centre is situated in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, on the road between the village of Laragh and Glendalough.
The weekend offers you a choice of:
• 3-night walks
• A selection of day walks from challenging, moderate and easy.

All walks are led by experienced walking leaders who will enhance your day with information on local history flora and fauna. The weekend will include:
• Photography walk with professional photographer, Tim Thornton;
• Yoga walk with Hilde Eiselen from Yoga Tree Ireland;
• My Rhythms dancing and walking with Sherron St Clair from Laragh;
• Traditional music and song at the end of the day in the local pubs.

Most of the walks take us through the National Park
( The Park covers approximately 90,000ha, in the central uplands of Wicklow. The park manages and protects some of Europe’s oldest peat boglands, heather covered mountains, broad-leafed and coniferous woodlands, playing host to most of Ireland’s native mammal species. Large herds of silka and red/silka hybrid deer, foxes, badgers, hares and birds of prey.

Please note: Walks may be changed on the day depending on weather conditions or the fitness level of the group at the leader’s discretion.

A look at the Festival Weekend

Friday, October 28th

Night Hike B: Brockagh Mountain
Level: Moderate (10km – 310m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Centre at 7.30pm, departing at 8.00pm sharp.
Route: Leaving from the Centre the walk takes us into Brockagh Forest and onto the summit of Brockagh Mountain (470m).
Our return journey takes us down to join the Wicklow Way that leads us back to the Brockagh Centre.
Important: All who partake in this walk must carry a torch/flashlight; failing to do so will eliminate you from participating in the walk.

Night Hike C: Glendalough & Green Road Area
Level: Easy (8.5km – 140m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Centre at 8.00pm departs 8.30pm sharp.
Route: Leaving from the Brockagh Centre, the walk takes us along the Wicklow Way and into the valley of Glendalough to follow the Board Walk to the Upper Lake.
From here we continue past Pollanass Waterfall, through Derrybawn Forest and down to join what is known locally as, the Green Road.
This walk is suitable for beginners.
Important: All who partake in this walk must carry a torch/flashlight; failing to do so will eliminate you from participating in the walk.

Saturday October 29th

Walk A: Lugnaquillia
Level: Strenuous (20km – 810m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 08.30am, depart centre at 09.00am.
From the Resource Centre you will be bussed to the beginning of your walk, which is in the valley of Glenmalure (Baravore Carpark).
Route: The walk takes us into the Fraughan Rock Glen and out onto Cannow Mountain (625m) following the spur of Lugnaquilla that overlooks the North Prison and onto the summit (925m) the highest mountain in Leinster.
The descent route takes us down via Carrigasleggaun (794m) and Carrawaystick Mountain (676m). From here we join a trail that takes us into Slieve Maan Forest, where we link up with the Wicklow Way to finish the day at the lively Glenmalure Lodge.

Walk B: Ballard & the Vale of Clara Nature Reserve
Level: Moderate (17km – 420m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 09.30am, departing at 10am.
Route: From the Resource Centre we will walk through the village of Laragh and into Ballard forest, where we will start an easy ascent onto the town land of Ballard. Here we will have great views back over Laragh Village and the surrounding countryside.
Our route then skirts the side of Trooperstown Hill before descending into Ballylug Forest to follow an old Mass Path that will lead us down into the Vale of Clara, where we will have lunch on the banks of the Avonmore River.
Our onward journey takes us into Clara Nature Reserve; an area that contains the largest area of semi-natural woodland in the county and is potentially one of the largest stands of native hardwoods in the country. The reserve is home to many species of birds such as tree creeper, woodcock, blackcap and long-eared owl.
Continuing on the trail leads us back onto the eastern side of Trooperstown and down into Trooperstown Woods, where we will be picked up by bus and taken back to the Brockagh Centre.

Walk C: Monastic Settlement & The Glendalough Lakes Area
Level: Easy to moderate (12.5km – 400m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 10am, depart centre at 10.30am.
Route: From the Centre at Laragh, we follow the Wicklow Way into the valley of Glendalough, where we will do a short tour of the 6th Century Monastic Settlement. From there, we continue into the valley of Glendasan, over the side of Camaderry Mountain and make a short descent to the lakes in Glendalough for lunch.
After lunch we continue our walk up by Pollanass Waterfall and into Lugduff and Derrybawn Forest, where we will follow a forest trail that will give us some spectacular views back over the valley, its two lakes, Monastic City and imposing Round Tower.
We return via the Green Road to Glendalough and back to the Brockagh Resource Centre. This walk is suitable for beginners.

Walk D: Night Walk:
Level: Easy (8km – 150m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 7.30pm, depart centre at 7.45 pm.
Route: This is a very easy walk where we will hopefully get very close to some of Glendalough’s wild deer and goats, using our head torches and a poachers approach.
This will be rutting (mating) season, so we will be able to listen to the roar or the stags as they patrol there territorial boundaries, in an attempt to ward off marauding young stags. We will also visit the Glendalough Monastic City, some of the old churches and graveyard, scary ah!

Other Events for Saturday the, 29th

Digital Photography Walk: Brockagh Forest & the Glendalough Valley Area (Distance: 5 Km-150m ascents)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre starts at 11.30 am,
Details: Have you ever taken that magical picture and gone home only to find you have destroyed the whole moment by having the wrong setting on your camera, or only capturing half the picture, sure we have all done it!
Today is your chance to rectify and develop your photography skills by taking a walk with professional photographer, Tim Thornton.
Tim is a native of Co. Wicklow and has being a professional photographer for most of his working life; he is also a member SWPP “Society of Wedding and Portrait Photography“. Tim’s style of working with his clients is in a relaxed and friendly manner, to help you capture that magical image.
“Helping you capture the memories of life”

My Rhythms dance with Sherron St Clair
My Rhythms is a sacred space in which you can be yourself in authentic movement, sound and dance. A series of Rhythms that invite you to feel grounded, focused, let of steam, explore your unique Rhythm, ending with inner calm and reflection…
This moving meditation connects body, mind and spirit and is for everyone, all shapes, sizes and abilities.
You are all welcome. So whatever shape you are in, be that physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, bring it ALL to the dance and Be Moved…Shift happens…*
For further info, contact Sherron on 0868788311*
Details: Starts at the Brockagh Resource Centre at 8.30pm for a group warm up

Traditional Irish Music
Details: The Glendalough Hotel will host an evening of traditional Irish music, starting at 9pm.
Return transport from your local B&B to the hotel for anyone who has participated in the walking festival is free of charge. Please contact one of the festival organisers.

Sunday October 30th

Walk A: Wicklow Way
Level: Moderate to Strenuous (26km – 950m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 08.30am, depart centre at 09.00am
Route: Depart Brockagh Centre by bus for the Iron Bridge in Aughavannagh, which is the starting point for our walk along the Wicklow Way.
This was Ireland’s first way marked trail, pioneered by J.B. Malone back in the 1960s. The way takes us through Mucklagh Forest and contours Carrickashane Mountain before crossing the Aughavannagh River to enter Slieve Maan Forest and out on the old Military Road in the valley of Glenmalure.
The next section takes us up onto the side of Mullacor, through Lugduff and down into the valley of Glendalough to finish back at the Brockagh Centre.
Overall you will be offered some stunning views along the way, such as down into the Drumgoff, Glenmalure and Glendalough Valleys, across to Lugnaquilla and surrounding mountains.

Walk B: Wicklow Way, Scarr & Kanturk Mountain
Level: Moderate (16.5km – 690m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 09. 30am, depart centre at 10.00am.
Route: Depart the centre to follow the Wicklow Way through Brockagh Forest, over the Glenmacnass River, onto Paddock Hill. From here we follow the spur to the summit of Scarr Mountain (641m)
On a clear day the views from this point are simply breath-taking. You can enjoy views towards the Irish Sea, and back inland to our highest mountain, Lugnaquillia.
Our descent route takes us north west to Kanturk (523m) and along the spur of Brown Mountain, where you will be offered some stunning views down over Lough Dan, Wicklow’s largest lake.
The day finishes at Old Bridge, where you will be transported back to the Brockagh Centre.

Walk C: Trooperstown Hill and the Two Glens
Level: Easy to moderate (12km – 490m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 10.00am, departing at 10.30am.
Route: From the Resource Centre, our walk takes us through the village of Laragh and into Ballard Forest and onto the town land of Ballard (Baile-ard), translated into English as ‘High Town or Village’. This area was once densely populated prior to the Great Famine of 1845-1849 and clear evidence of the small fields and potato furrows can still be seen to this day. From here, our walk takes us onto Trooperstown Hill, where on a clear day it is possible to see almost all the peaks in the Wicklow Mountain range. And if luck is on our side, we can see as far away as the Snowdonia Mountains National Park in Wales.
Our way travels down through Trooperstown Forest, over the Avonmore River and onto the side of Paddock Hill, where we will join the Wicklow Way. This scenic trail will lead us to the valley of Glenmacnass to the Brockagh Centre.

Other Events for Sunday, 30th

Nordic Walk: Brockagh Forest & the Glendalough Valley Area
(Distance: 7 Km-150m ascents)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre starts at 11.30 am,
Details: Nordic Walking is one of the most sociable and effective exercise techniques around. From the social walker enjoying the outdoors with others, to the elite athlete needing sports specific cross training, Nordic Walking (or Nordic Running) is suitable for everyone.
Nordic Walking works your upper and lower body at the same time, strengthening your back, legs and arms, and reducing neck and shoulder tension – all this while improving the health of your heart and lungs. And you can gain all these health benefits, and more, while Nordic Walking with your friends; exercise intensity is determined by upper body effort so people of differing fitness levels can walk and talk together, while working to their own level with Nordic Walking.
Trainer and guide for the day will be Michele Jameson from Roundwood.

Yoga Walk: the Glendalough Valley & Two Lakes
(Distance: 8 Km-150m ascents)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre starts at 11.30 am,
Yoga asanas or postures, when practised with care and attention, exercise all the muscles, lubricate the joints, strengthen the bones and massage the tissues of the body. No other exercise routine is so comprehensive and therefore so beneficial to our overall well-being.
Everyone can do Yoga. Small children quite naturally adopt the postures, but we lose the ability to move freely as we grow up and spend long periods of time sitting behind desks, in cars and on sofas. Our ancestors worked with their bodies, we work with our minds, which means that the intellectual centre becomes overactive while the physical body can be quite neglected. Sound familiar? Bad posture and/or slumping over work can cause pressure on the inner organs, causing sluggishness, congestion and malfunctioning.
When mind and body move out of balance, we start to suffer from stress. An over-active (racing) mind is one of the main causes of fatigue and illness. So many of us lack energy; Yoga can restore vital energy and leave one feeling calm, yet at the same time strong. One can take up Yoga at any age. Anyone from trendy teens to sprightly seniors benefit. Yoga is non-competitive — all that is necessary is to work wholeheartedly to the best of one’s ability.

Traditional Irish Social Night:
Details: The Vartry House, Roundwood, 9.30pm until 12, admission €5, payable to Vartry House on the night. Music by Fernando

Monday October 31st

Walk B: St. Kevin’s Way & Camaderry Mountain Area
Level: Moderate (18km – 620m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 09. 30am, depart centre at 10am.
Route: Commencing at the Brockagh Centre, the walk takes us into the valley of Glendasan and onto the slopes of Camaderry. This area is known for its large herd of Sika deer which at this time of the year is in the middle of the noisy rutting/mating season, which is fascinating to witness. Bring your binoculars for this one! Camaderry has two summits (677m and 698m) the views from both are simply breathtaking.
Our descent skirts around Turlough Hill, bringing us down to the Wicklow Gap, where we join the St. Kevin’s Way that will guide us back into the valley of Glendasan, through deserted lead mines and back to the Brockagh Centre.

Walk C: Mountain Meitheal
Level: Easy (2.5hrs, approximately, (11km – 310m ascent)
Registration: Brockagh Resource Centre at 11.30am, departing at 11.45am.
Details: Mountain Meitheal is a group of volunteers that undertake conservation and restoration projects on mountain and forest tracks. These projects attempt to counteract some of the pressures that are evident in our upland areas. Mountain Meitheal offers the opportunity to give something back by volunteering for work on our trails thereby protecting our fragile environment. There are three such projects in the Laragh area – all part of the Wicklow Way. Shay Walsh, Chairman of Mountain Meitheal will lead a walk taking in each of the projects. The walk will include the first Meitheal project, a specifically designed section of trail built to demonstrate the various methods of trail construction and a more recent project the construction of an Adirondack Shelter which provides simple shelter for hikers from storms or for overnight use. A detailed talk will be given as the walk progresses.
The walk will take two to two and a half hours and will be taken at an easy pace.
Cost: There is no charge for this walk but a donation to Mountain Meitheal would be appreciated.

For more details, see