Ireland day 0116. Saturday 22 January 2022- Sugarloaves

Ireland day 0116. Saturday 22 January 2022- Sugarloaves
Today’s summary Early train to Howth Junction then got lift to Kilmacanogue for Sugarloaves walk with DWC.   Excellent day walking.   Lift back to Malahide at end
Today’s weather Dry and bright with long sunny intervals after misty start.   Moderate breeze on tops, calm lower down.  About 7C
Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Sugarloaves as recorded

Whenever you get a clear view of the southern horizon from any slightly elevated spot of land almost anywhere to the north of Dublin, you can see a very distinctive triangular pimple interrupting the gradual incline from the sea to the Dublin Mountains. This pimple is in fact the Great Sugarloaf and it’s a wonderful little quartzite hill, which is almost perfectly conical. It’s part of the same geological formation as the nearby Bray Head hills and has two nearby sibling hills – both a bit lower than the Great Sugarloaf but in their own ways, just as appealing. The lower hills are the Little Sugarloaf (unsurprisingly) and Carrigoona and together with the Great Sugarloaf, the three encircle the small town of Kilmacanogue (pronounced “Kilma-Cannog”).

As soon as I saw the silhouette, I knew it was a hill I’d have to climb one day. So when the January programme from the Dublin Walking Club had “Sugarloaf Circuit” on the agenda for today, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to give it a go. Especially as one of the other walkers had offered to give me a lift from Kilbarrack this morning (essential while we are still waiting for the car!). So I caught an early train to the meeting point, and then we whizzed round the M50 and were at Kilmacanogue by 9 am. All a bit of a blur for me as I was barely awake by then, but the cold air in the car park soon woke me up.

The route today was roughly cloverleaf in shape (though I guess being in Ireland it was probably a shamrock), taking in the three peaks (in turn) of Little Sugarloaf, Great Sugarloaf, and Carigoona, one on each lobe of the trefoil. The walk was centred on Kilmacanogue but cleverly you manage to avoid retracing your steps almost completely. I won’t describe the walk in great detail, suffice it to say it was excellent. Probably the best day’s walking since we came to Ireland, in fact. I was only sorry that Val was still back in the UK so missed it. Still, I’ve got a record of the track so we can retrace it at our own pace on a future date.

The weather was perfect (again!) and because it’s been dry for the last few weeks, there wasn’t too much mud. The paths were mostly pretty good – and especially on the lower slopes of Great Sugarloaf, where the trail has recently been re-ballasted. I enjoyed the proper leg-stretch, and the scrambles over the bouldery rocky tops to get the summits and the 360 degree views which they afford. Simply stunning. The Great Sugarloaf – because of its proximity to Dublin, its striking profile and its lofty views – is a popular destination, so the scramble to the top – as well as being steep and slippy, is very busy. So you’re very unlikely ever to get the summit to yourself, but you still get an excellent sense of lofty achievement from the top. Little Sugarloaf and Carrigoona, by contrast, were pretty much deserted and in a way, were more enjoyable as a result.

We scooted round this mini Irish Three Peaks circuit and made pretty good time back to Kilmacanogue , reaching the car park just before it got dark. Pluck’s pub is just across the road so a few of us resisted the temptation to go straight home and popped in for a quick Guinness – which felt particularly well deserved today – before hitting the road. And today is “freedom day” in Ireland, where the 8pm Covid curfew on pub closing is being lifted, so everyone in the pub seemed to be in a particularly jolly mood this evening.

Well I think I am going to stop there, as I have run out of things to say and the fresh air and Guinness is beginning to make putting my feet up and having some dinner look like a pretty attractive option. Tomorrow I’m also going out with the club, but it’s a very much shorter amble, with a late start. So a bit of a lie-in beckons. Hoorah!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Rocky ascent of Little Sugarloaf.   The Great Sugarloaf was even steeper, longer and busier Sun came out as we got to the top, and dappled the fields below beautifully
Between the Litle and Great Sugarloaves, you get an excellent view through the V-shaped Glen O’the Downs.   It was formed by meltwater from decaying glaciers during the various ice ages.   Presumably the rivers found a weaker stratum of rock between the harder quartzite hillsides which flank the glen. On the top of the Great Sugarloaf.   A popular day trip from Dublin so quite busy on the summit today.   But an exhilarating scramble to get up, and fantastic views when you make it.
Looking north from the flanks of the Great Sugarloaf, with the Fairy Castle (a hill, in this case) being pointed out in the centre horizon. A real(!) fairy castle on the way up Carrigoona, towards the end of the walk.  Even though it looks ephemeral, it’s been there at least sixty years.
On the ascent of Little Sugarloaf, looking beyond Kilmacanogue to the Great Sugarloaf.   It’s a very distinctive peak, and being conical it looks pretty much the same no matter where you look at it from.   It was our next destination, after its Little sibling
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 16912 m
Max elevation: 480 m
Min elevation: 78 m
Total climbing: 856 m
Total descent: -855 m
Total time: 06:37:15
Download file: Sugar loaves DWC corrected.gpx

You can read earlier and later days’ blogs below

Previous day’s blog
Next day’s blog
Ireland home page