On what was sure to be one of Dublin’s final warm, sunny days of 2015, I joined the Kiltipper Ramblers hiking club in the Dublin Mountains for Ramble Aid 2015. This annual charity event pits hikers of all skill levels—led by experienced hillwalkers—against their choice of three different routes in the Dublin Mountains, beginning near the western suburb of Tallaght. My fellow Dodder Action enthusiasts and I chose the hike that would take us nearest to the very source of the urban river we love so much.
The Maureen’s Brook team began the hike at Glenasmole, quite near the reservoir from which we launched our Dodder trek from the mountains to the sea earlier this year. We followed a dirt road along the ridge, soaking up the autumn sunshine and watching the view of the reservoir and Dublin City in the distance getting better and better.
From the top of the first rise, we turned off the road and into the high bogland for which the Wicklow and Dublin Mountains are so famous. The purple flowers of the heather and bright yellow of the gorse was fading as autumn advanced, but there was still plenty of color to be seen on the gentle slopes all around.
Even though there has been little rain recently, these hilltop bogs were plenty…boggy. Going off-road, we carefully picked our way over the damp, peaty surface—stepping over holes and treacherous gullies and sticking to higher ground whenever we passed the perfect squares left behind by peat harvesting.
We pushed down a steep slope to cross the coffee-colored, peat-stained water of Maureen’s Brook—the namesake mountain stream of the hike—before pushing up the opposite rise for a well-deserved lunch break among the grazing sheep.
The slopes and ridges of the Dublin Mountains are littered with history. Chris, our knowledgeable leader, pointed out various marking and monuments along the route—among them a rock associated with the legendary Irish giant Finn McCool, a prehistoric human-made mound surrounded by what would have been a rudimentary defensive moat, and a dolmen, one of hundreds (thousands?) of table-like stone structures built as gravestones by Ireland’s earliest humans.
Everyone turned out in such great numbers not just to enjoy a great day in the hills, but to support Ramble Aid’s two chosen charities: LauraLynn Children’s Hospice and TeenLine Ireland—the teen crisis hotline. With over a hundred participants tackling the hills to meet new people, to get out and enjoy the outdoors on Dublin’s doorstep, and supporting these two important community resources, I think it’s fair to say that Ramble Aid 2015 was a rousing success.