Did you know that you can join in free guided hikes in the Dublin Mountains? This great initiative is part of the Dublin Mountains Partnership and is perfect if you’re getting into hill walking or just enjoy the social aspect of walking with a group.
I heard about these walks some time last year, and since then I’ve been meaning to sign up for one. So finally I got around to it and joined in a group walk on New Year’s Day. I even managed to drag one of my brothers along too!
It was such a nice way to kick off the new year after the usual overindulgence at Christmas! The Dublin Mountains are so close to the city and offer heaps of recreational opportunities from walking and biking to orienteering and climbing. There are lots of beautiful forests to explore and stunning viewpoints along the way too. So if you’ve been meaning to get out there and explore more, sign up for a walk. You won’t regret it!
Dublin Mountains Partnership
The Dublin Mountains Partnership was established in 2008. Its purpose was to create an improved recreational experience for users of the Dublin Mountains. It’s a collaboration between a number of different organisations, outdoor recreation groups and volunteers and has been a great success.
Visitor numbers in the Dublin uplands have climbed to over 600,000 per year. In addition, last year Coillte, a member of the partnership, announced a project to gradually (over the next 30 – 40 years) convert their commercial forests in the Dublin Mountains to native and mixed woodlands, primarily for recreational use.
The main recreation sites in the Dublin Mountains are the Hell Fire Club, Massy’s Estate, Cruagh Wood, Tibradden Wood, Kilmashogue, Ticknock, Carrickgollogan and Barnaslingan. Some of the initiatives undertaken by the Dublin Mountains Partnership include new and upgraded trails as well as mapping and signage throughout these areas.
Volunteer Ranger Service
A group of volunteer rangers support the work of the Dublin Mountain Partnership and help in the management of the recreation sites. Among other things, the rangers help with conservation tasks and providing information and assistance to those visiting the Dublin Mountains. Another part of their role is leading the guided walks.
Signing Up for Free Guided Hikes
Signing up for the hikes is easy. Check the Dublin Mountains Partnership website for upcoming hikes each month. There is usually a contact email provided on the website for each one, though some may require registration via Eventbrite. If so, the link is provided. When booking via email you just need to provide your name and contact number to register. You are also asked to provide an emergency contact in the unlikely event any issues arise during the walk.
I got a return email to confirm our places on the walk and further information regarding the names of the guides, parking info, public transport details (if applicable for your walk), etc.
If you spot a walk you’d like to do, sign up sooner rather than later. Many of the walks get booked out and when they are the website is updated to let you know. If you have signed up and plans change, do get in touch with the contact and let them know. They may be able to offer the place to someone on a waiting list. It also means the group is not hanging around waiting for people who are not going to show up, which happened the morning of our walk!
Walks to Suit Everyone
There are lots of different types of walks organised, so keep an eye on the website for one that suits your interest. Some are family friendly or are suitable for people who wish to bring their dogs along. For those that don’t have their own means of transport, there are some that are within easy access of public transport. This will be noted on the website. Whether you’re looking for a long hilly walk or a shorter, flatter walk, you should find something to suit. Just keep checking back each month.
You don’t have to be super fit to join in. The walks are at a relaxed pace and we had several stops along the way so that everyone in the group could catch up. One ranger leads the hike while another stays at the back to make sure nobody goes astray! Denis and Tom, our two volunteer rangers for our walk, were really friendly and filled us in on anything interesting along the way.
We were very lucky and had a fab day for our walk, which made it all the better. The weather was so mild, the layers were stripped off once we got started. On the summit of Carrickgollogan our guide said it was the calmest he’d ever experienced it in the estimated 50 times he’s been up there.
Dublin Mountains Way
The route we took from Shankill to the Scalp is part of the Dublin Mountains Way, a national way marked trail. Stretching 42.6 km from Shankill to Tallaght (or vice versa!) the Dublin Mountains Way was a flagship project of the Dublin Mountain Partnership. It was officially opened in late 2010.
The entire route is waymarked so you can just follow the little yellow walking man symbol as you go. Thanks to the Dublin Mountain Partnership the signs and trails are well maintained so you should have few problems. In fact one of the Recreation Managers was along for our walk too, taking photos of anything that might need work and generally checking up on things. More information on the Dublin Mountains Way and PDF maps of the route can be found on the DMP website.
Still, I’m one of those people that can easily get myself confused and lost! So it was nice to know we were in good hands. I could just relax and enjoy the walk, the scenery and the company.
Even if you’re with a group, it’s important to make sure that you are well prepared. If you’re going on a longer hike make sure you’ve packed enough snacks and water. Appropriate walking shoes or boots and warm clothing and rain gear is essential. As always, the weather can change without much warning. Once you have those things sorted, you can tackle anything…well almost anything!
Thanks to the efforts of the Dublin Mountain Partnership and volunteer rangers, getting out into the Dublin Mountains is safer and more enjoyable than ever. So get those boots on and go and see for yourself!