For most, the long winter nights are spent sitting in by the fire. Some spend the time peering over maps planning walking routes for when the days get longer. For some however, the darkness of night presents an opportunity to see the hills in a different light. Throw in a full moon and the same familiar hills can take on a new magic all of their own. We caught up with Terry Lambert of Hilltop Treks after his latest Full Moon walk in the Wicklow Hills and found out what the typical night walk consisit of.
The last Full Moon walk was a great success with 50+ people partaking. We all met up on the 30th Jan in Enniskerry in Co. Wicklow. The group was gathered around the Clock tower in the centre of the village. The locals must have been scratching their heads to what was going on with such a group gathered on a dark evening in their small town.
When the full crew had assembled some of us boarded the bus and the others followed in their cars as we made our way towards the start of the walk at Curtlestown Woods.
Once we were all ready, head torches on and boots tied up we headed off into the dark woods. The trail went along part of the Wicklow way following a winding path which was slowly ascending. After about 1700 yards we turned a corner and hanging directly ahead and just above us, bright as a button, was a wonderful large silvery moon. The sky was clear with very few clouds; the ideal night for a Full Moon walk.
With the size of the group extra guides were on hand to encourage the slower ones and to help keep the group together. We had plenty of stops along our way with views right across the Irish Sea with glorious moon reflecting off it. There was a ferry coming in probably from Holyhead. With its decklights on it appeared to be floating in the midst of the sky.
We continued on leaving the Wicklow way trail and heading for the top of Prince William’s seat- named after a visit by King George IV in 1821 and his son William to these shores for a spot of hunting with Lord Powerscourt, the owner of much of this area at the time.
There was snow and ice still on the mountain after the fall we had 2 weeks earlier and we had to watch our footing. Once we were on top of Prince William’s seat we could see for miles around us in all directions. The Glencullen Valley, Maulin, the Sugarloaf all silhouetted by the nights sky and there was no need at all for our head torches.
We decided not to stop for our lunch here as it was chilly on top with such a clear sky. But we did get time to point out different constellations of stars, the Plough (Big Dipper), Orion and his unmistakable belt and of course the North star; all very important for our night navigation.
We then began our descent back down along the top of a forest and along a quite slippy trial so we all kept to its edges just we case we went on our ear. The trail was lit up for us with the moon hitting off it’s snow. Then we re-entered the woods and when we came back out we were right at the edge of the mountain looking over Glencullen. The shelter was a lot better here so we decided to have a bite to eat while we took in the the views below. Crisps and chocolate were shared round and cups of tea and coffee, a night time picnic with the moon for a spot light. When we had finished our lunch it was time to get back to the bus and into Enniskerry.
When we arrived back into Enniskerry some us then went into Nancy Murphy’s for a pint and where there were some platters of sandwiches laid on for us, thanks Keith. We all had time to catch up and see who we had been walking with all night.