Often times when we think of the best hikes in Ireland I think it is fair to say we all think of Kerry, Mayo, Wicklow etc., Dublin normally is somewhat of an afterthought. However, before Dublin and national restrictions were re-introduced, a hike in the capital was ticked off our bucket list. Ticknock forest, with a view to completing the Fairy Castle Loop walking trail, was the destination we settled on.
With an ascent of 210 metres and an average duration of 90-120 minutes, we think it falls under the heading of moderate difficulty. Someone who was in severe difficulty was the lady three cars ahead of us in the car park. Her transmission was a bit temperamental to say the least and so it took some gusto and three passersby to get her car up the steep hill of the car park. Leaving the coffee until afterwards, we walked up the hill to the starting point of the trail.
Ireland being Ireland meant that we weren't blessed with picturesque weather, quite the opposite in fact.
Unperturbed, we pressed on ahead and we were grateful for the frequent signage as we passed 'Three Rock Mountain' which is very much as described. Up ahead was an entrance to the forest which was partly cordoned off for the mountain bikers of which there were many. Eventually we came to a sign which stated that the Fairy Castle cairn was a 25 minute 1.2 km jaunt away.
From here onwards the climb became more challenging as we were now off the smooth gravel track and were tasked with negotiating rocks and an abundance of heathers. A relatively steep climb but achievable within the suggested 25 minutes, we sadly were robbed of enjoying the view from the top as it was mist as far as the eye could see.
The only knock we had on this hike, no pun intended, was the lack of signs from the cairn back down to flat gravel land. To get across to the cairn you veer left from the upwards path you travel on. Once we had enough of the mist, we made our way back over to the trail we had walked up, this time choosing to turn left as opposed to going right and walking back down the way we came up.
Knowing that it is a loop trail we were relatively confident we were going the right way but a sign or two for reassurance would not go amiss. A T-junction of sorts is what greets you as you continue to descend from the Fairy Castle. Again a sign here would be advantageous, we assumed turning right would bring us back to the sign attached above, i.e. at the bottom of the Fairy Castle climb, so we turned left.
Once you are at the bottom of this trail you take a left turn followed then by a right turn. You will know when to take the right turn because the only other alternative is to take a left which brings you into the forest or a more extreme left which brings you up a narrow and hilly yellow stone trail. Finally then you arrive back close to where you started. Knowing that you have being at this juncture earlier, you know to turn left and walk downwards back towards the car park.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable hike even accounting for the miserable weather we had. If you have walked around Ticknock and know better routes to take or you just want to share your experience with us, please comment below. Here's hoping we get better weather for our next hike!