I’ve hiked the Dublin Mountains Way twice. This is a very tough walk as it’s 42km in distance. When you attempt to complete the Dublin Mountain Way in one day, it ends up being a time challenge. Completing a marathon distance mountain hike means that you are somewhat timebound. As such, there are obviously some areas which you would like to devote more attention to but simply cannot. This was the motivation for returning to the Lead Mines Way and Scalp Lookout Trail. These are lovely walking trails and worthy of a few hours attention in their own right.
The Lead Mines Way is a 2.3km looped walk through the Carrickgollogan forest. While it’s short in distance, there are 2 lovely spurs off the circular trail which makes it well worthwhile. The first is the old lead mines chimney offering spectacular views over Dublin Bay and the second is a steep but quick ascent up Carrickgollogan Hill where you get lovely views over Dublin City, the Irish Sea and the Wicklow countryside.
The Scalp Lookout Trail is another short walk. It is one of the nicest forest walks available in Dublin though with the highlight being the Scalp Lookout Point in Barnaslingan Wood.
From the Barnaslingan car park you have the perfect base to take in the Lead Mines Way and Scalp Lookout trail in a nice figure of eight walk taking in both looped routes. I parked up in the Barnaslingan car park on a cold December afternoon to do just that.
Rising Towards the Chimney
The Lead Mines Way was first on the agenda and I left the Barnaslingan car park, crossed Barnaslingan Lane and walked up Murphy’s Lane. The nice thing about this route is that this is the only part of the walk that is along roadway. The Lead Mines Chimney is viewable from the outset and my first objective is to reach this landmark.
As I leave the road after a short climb, the first thought that occurs to me is how unusual it is not to be following the familiar “Yellow Man” directions. In this instance I am on the orange Lead Mines Way trail.
Crossing The Dublin Mountain Way
To be honest, I don’t really know why the Dublin Mountain Way does not directly take in the Lead Mine Chimney as it would be a nice addition to that route. Instead the Dublin Mountain Way snakes an alternative path through Carrickgollogan Woods. It seems feasible that the Dublin Mountain Way could do both as there are a number of places where the Dublin Mountain Way crosses the Lead Mines Way.
Phone Calls and Hail Stones
Anyway, I turn left at this fork and move upwards with the Chimney firmly in my view. Moving along the gravel pathway, I am enjoying the views to my left but reminded that while engrossed in nature that I am still very close to the city when I receive a phone call from my sister. The reception remains perfect for the duration of the call. However I am most definitely out in the elements and I need to cut the call short as a huge hailstorm shower erupts around me!
I keep ascending until I reach a muddy pathway to my left that brings me directly to the lead mines chimney itself. This is a remnant of mining in the area that began in 1807 and continued to be used up until 1913.
The structure itself is very impressive and it’s great to get up close to the chimney that dominates views from the surroundings.
The views from this point out on to Dublin Bay are really impressive also.
Despite the cold weather there are still a number of brave souls out in the elements. Three different dogs, also happy to be out for walks, come over to me to say hello.
I have a quick peak inside the chimney itself before setting off on my way again.
Back to the Trail
Leaving the spur to the chimney I go back via the muddy pathway. I then encounter the only confusing part of the trail. The orange direction markers here are somewhat ambiguous. To continue along the Lead Mines trail, you need to keep going straight ahead. It’s up a slight incline with the Chimney at your back. Then it’s a left turn and a nice pathway through the forest. (Tip: if you find yourself going downhill with a boundary ditch to open fields on your left then you have gone wrong).
The forest path arcs until I arrive at a T junction and I take a well signposted right turn. A horse and rider approach along the path as I move upwards.
Carrickgollogan quickly comes into view as I continue walking. There are a number of routes to take if you want to leave the Lead Mines Way and summit this peak. I would highly recommend that you do. My advice would be to keep following the orange directional markers until you meet a sign that also has the white (Mountain Access Trail) marker. Then follow these to the summit where you can retrace your steps and come back to the Lead Mines Way.
It’s a steep but short climb along a rocky pathway to the top. And definitely well worth the short detour.
The views from the top are spectacular. They take in the Irish Sea, Wicklow Mountains in the distance and the surrounding countryside and forestry.
Completing Loop One
After I rejoin the Lead Mines Trail, it’s a nice easy walk to complete the loop. From there it’s back to the car park and into Barnaslingan Woods. There are two looped walk options in Barnaslingan for those who wish to extend their walk. The blue Pine Loop Trail or the longer red Scalp Lookout Trail. Both of these options take in the Scalp Lookout which is the highlight of Barnaslingan.
Scalp Lookout Trail
I choose the longer Scalp Lookout Trail. And while the Lookout Point is the most spectacular viewpoint, this is a beautiful forest walk in it’s own right. The trail is easy to follow as long you keep an eye out for the many red directional markers. The route alternates between gravel pathway, rocky walkways and dirt paths. Plus some sections with no path at all as you walk through the trees. I spend about 30 minutes completing the Scalp Lookout Trail and it was well worth it.
This route taking in the Lead Mines Way and Scalp Lookout Trail (plus Carrickgollogan Hill) is an easy walk. Overall, it takes approximately two hours. It’s the ideal route for a Sunday afternoon in the outdoors.
There are some decent maps available of these walks via the Coillte website.