Crone to Djouce

Can you smell it? Do you have Scratch-and-Sniff™ installed on your computer?

Today’s early run/hike was from Crone Woods car park to the summit of Djouce and back. It was certainly less ambitious than last week’s instalment of the ‘Wicklow Way Recce Sessions’ with Gary, but that’s because Gary had better things to be doing today, and I was on my tod. But that’s fine, because it’s nice to do your own thing every now and again. And I will of course have to get used to being on my own on the trail for considerable periods of time in June.

Crone Woods was once part of the Powerscourt estate, and as legend goes, rebels used to hide out there in the late 1700s, and this led to the creation of the military roads which the British built to give them quicker access to the mountains. They dotted the landscape with barracks, too. As you may know from your history, the 1798 Rebellion was ultimately yet another glorious failure, but at least the country has its independence now for over a hundred years, and we haven’t given the Brits back their roads, either. Consider them reparation!

Neither Crone nor Djouce sound like Irish words, but as far as I know, Crone comes from the Irish word corrán, meaning sickle, and is yet another example of how Anglicised Irish words often lose their meaning and their charm. So I assume it refers to the shape of the topography. Djouce is a ham-fisted attempt at saying dioghais, which is a fortified height. It’s 725 metres high, making it the 74th highest peak in Ireland. Not necessarily something that you might put on your CV. If you’re in the mountain business…

That said, the route today from the car park at Crone Woods, whilst only about 7 kilometres, is largely up all the way. The only downhill stretch is a short drop into the Dargle Valley. So by the time you reach the point on the Way where the route splits, and you can either contour around the side of Djouce or take on the summit, you are already a little out of puff. That last push up the worn path to the top will put manners on you.

A panoramic from the Way, with the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain in the background

The day was beautiful. Blue skies as far as the eye could see, and hardly a breath of wind. The first leg winds up through the woods, which contain quite a few mature Scot’s Pine and some deciduous trees, which is good to see. The path then closes in, hemmed in on both sides by thick, blooming gorse, and the coconut scent is almost overpowering. As the trees thin and gaps appear, the views are teasingly revealed and then hidden again. The path winds higher, and soon you are overlooking Powerscourt Waterfall.

Powerscourt Waterfall with Djouce in the background
This photogenic tree deserves a better photo than this; another day, perhaps…

The Way then turns left at this point and drops down into the Glensoulan Valley, crossing the Dargle River. The Dargle and the Liffey both rise on the flanks of Tonduff, which can be seen to the north-east as you peer up the valley. But each river has a very different journey to the sea because of an ‘accident’ of geography. As the Dargle is essentially falling towards the sea at all stages of its journey, it’s about 19 kilometres all told from its birth in the blanket bogs of Tonduff to its meeting with the sea at Bray Harbour.

The Dargle River above the waterfall
The view looking down into the Glensoulan Valley, with Djouce looking on from above

The Liffey, on the other hand, has a journey for which the word ‘circuitous’ may have been created. Consider a brief shower of rain over Tonduff; one half falls to the south, and pools together in the peat and heather, forming into a small stream which gathers strength before plunging over a cliff-face, creating Ireland’s highest waterfall, before foaming and racing away towards the Irish Sea, whilst the other drop of rain lands on the north side, and joins contributions from Kippure, and so begins a journey that takes 132 kilometres before gracing the capital city with its presence. Not that we treat it with the respect it deserves. Alas, no. But it expends considerable time on its journey as a youngster and rowdy teen heading east, into the midlands and away from the sea. It’s not until it passes through Newbridge in Co. Kildare that it has the good sense to begin curving north-eastwards. At Leixlip, it heads east, flows through a valley of its own making, and finally meets the sea. Ireland’s second-longest river, the Barrow, has a similar tale to tell, but that’s for another blog.

From the top of Djouce
The summit of Djouce; Howth Head hides behind the trig point, and no, I couldn’t be arsed to straighten up the photo!

The climb out of the valley doesn’t really end; it’s just business as usual. It will only stop when you reach the top of Djouce. But on a day like today, it is glorious. There are quite a few folk out and about, from the casual rambler to the serious hiker, and everything in between. From the top, the views are stunning. The pictures, needless to say, do not do it justice. I have a sneaky look at PeakFinder on the iPhone, and try and get a sense of the various peaks around me. I am not very familiar with the Wicklow Mountains, so this whole Wicklow Way project, and the various training sessions with the local hill running folk, have been a great education.

The beard grows…

I suspect, on a really clear day, that you would see the Mournes in Northern Ireland, and some of the higher peaks in Snowdonia, in Wales. And many more things besides. Even on such a fine day as this, it appears there is still a light dusting of snow on Mullaghcleevaun and Lugnaquilla from last week’s very brief flurry that bypassed all but the hardiest and highest of mountain dwellers.

A Raven circles overhead, croaking away like an 80-a-day smoker. It lands on a rock nearby and continues giving about us malingerers on its mountain. I take out the GoPro and start recording, walking ever closer and pausing each time it prepares to take off. I get closer than I ever have to one in the wild. Eventually it takes off. Hopefully the footage is okay. It’s a great experience. I chew on a protein bar and turn for home. I know this is going to be much easier, despite the climb out of the Dargle Valley.

The route is getting ever-busier, and the car park is full when I arrive. There is a little van at the gates, and I get a hot chocolate and pack of crisps. Heaven. Then it’s home again, and back to lowland life once more.

A couple of items for the Way have arrived; the poncho is just an emergency thing, and I hope it stays unwrapped, but the water filter bottle could be a godsend, allowing me to drink from streams along the way
There are always dogs!
And finally, if you have never experienced the joy of being Rickrolled, well, I feel for you, I really do!

11 thoughts on “Crone to Djouce

    1. I’ve learned from experience many moons ago; never, ever pause the family’s favourite TV show to tell them anything. Even aliens landing on the lawn. Let ’em wait! But you’re a good man for trying. Maybe one day they’ll listen 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Terrific, as ever. I think the practice on the scowl is starting to pay off – which is a good thing as you may well need it for the Wicklow Way. Hadn’t realised that, at 21, Rick Astley looked too young for his voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The beard is, indeed, growing. And yes, a drop-dead gorgeous day. As for the stunning pics — since reading Eoghan Daltun’s marvelous “An Irish Atlantic Rainforest”, they reveal the Irish landscape to me in a whole new way. Thanks twice over 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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