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Hiking Guide to Lugnaquilla via Fenton’s Pub

Updated: Sep 27

Many people have heard of Lugnaquilla, as Leinster's highest peak and Ireland's second-highest Provincial Peak I’d say it’s definitely one to tick off the list. Located between the Glen of Imaal to the west and Glenmalure to the east, Lugnaquilla (or Lug for short) is pretty easy to access and a must for any hiker in Ireland. Both challenging and rewarding there’s not much more you can look for from a hike. There are many routes up Lug, but for this article, we’re going to cover the trail starting off at Fenton’s pub in the Glen of Imaal.

Before starting your hike I’d recommend checking out the Irish Defence Force's website. The Glen of Imaal is an Irish military firing range and can be in use on the day you plan on hiking. Make sure before you set off keep an eye out for any red flags flying, that means the firing range is in use! Be sure to hit the road early as well. There are a few spaces in the car park but can fill up pretty quickly.

The hike begins after you walk past a statue of Michael Dwyer. A famous Irish Rebel who lead a guerrilla campaign in the Wicklow Mountains after the Irish 1798 Rebellion. After many years of fighting against the British military and the failed 1803 rebellion, Michael Dwyer was shipped off to New South Wales in Australia where he eventually became the Chief of Police in Liverpool, Sydney.

Once you passed the statue you’ll walk through the military range area. This part of the trail is 1.5km on paved roads. It’s usually fairly peaceful and quiet on the weekend with only the occasional hiker or sheep breaking the silence. At the end of the road is the climb up Camarahill, it’s a surprisingly steep portion of the hike at a gradient of just over 20%! Don’t be afraid to take your time on this section, I know I had to. On a clear day after you reach the top of Camarahill, you should get a view of the summit. Use this opportunity to take a few photos, and catch your breath before you set off again.

From here it’s just under 4km to the summit. The next 3km are fairly easy, so take in the view. To the south, you’ll see Ballineddan Mountain and Slievemaan. This is a lesser-known route up Lugnaquilla which we’ll cover in an upcoming post. If you look off to the north you’ll see the West Wicklow Sugarloaf and Lobawn. You might even see Table Mountain and Camenabologue.

Finally, all that’s left to do is reach the peak. The final 1km is very steep with the average gradient at 15%. This is even with the last couple of hundred meters being virtually flat! Just take your time and remember that it’s not for very long. After this portion of the climb, the trail levels out and all that’s left to do is walk to the summit. Be sure to take in the views of all of Wicklow, on a clear day you can even see the Irish coastline! Whenever you’re ready just turn back on the trail and follow it back down again.

Lugnaquilla is one of the few Irish Munros and the only Irish one outside of Munster. A Munro is a mountain in Scotland that is over 3000’. These peaks are famous for their ruggedness and beauty attracting many hikers to its slopes annually. The UK and Ireland also have mountains over 3000’ which are known as a Furth or in this case an Irish Munro. Its climate can bring a whole array of varied, difficult, and even dangerous weather. I would always recommend people have appropriate hiking clothing when walking in the Wicklow Mountains but in the case of Lugnaquilla, it’s an absolute necessity! With this in mind make sure you bring an appropriate rain jacket, trousers as well as warm equipment. The summit will be approximately 6 degrees Celsius colder than sea level!

Lugnaquilla is one of my favourite mountains. I love the views that it offers up of the Irish Sea and all of the surrounding peaks. I also enjoy the challenges it can provide. There’s been many times I’ve climbed it and been walking with little to no visibility for a few hours! To go through that, find the summit at the end, and make it safely back down brings me a great sense of accomplishment. I hope this article inspires you to give Lugnaquilla a go if you haven’t already, and if you’ve done it before it encourages you to climb it again. Who knows, maybe you’ll bump into us having a pint in Fenton’s when you’re finished!

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