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The connoisseur's climb


Djouce Mountain

Djouce Mountain

Original illustration of Malone's route on Djouce

Original illustration of Malone's route on Djouce


Djouce Mountain

Map: OSI Discovery Series, Sheet 56

First published in the Evening Herald on August 25, 1960

A shapely form, magnificent setting and easy access make Djouce one of the grandest mountains in East Wicklow for ramblers.

The highest point on the important watershed between the Dargle River and the Annamoe Vartry systems, Djouce looks every bit of its 2,385 feet.

The surrounding roads are now almost all first-class, but I have planned this week's route for walkers, while motorists can easily link up with the run, by way of Enniskerry and the old Long Hill road.

Travellers on foot should take St Kevin's Bus as far as Ballinastoe Cross Roads and there head west from the main road, T61, to join the old mail-coach route, the original Long Hill road, now tarmac throughout, every bit as good as its busy neighbour.


Turn left to head south by the old road, and, about one hundred yards from the road junction, forest begins on your right-hand side, then you turn right to go up by a forest road.

You are now heading west through Ballinastoe townland, which, at six-and-a-half thousand acres, is one of the largest in Wicklow.

You fork left, and then keep straight ahead at a cross-roads in the forest, thus climbing steadily up the glen of the Stoney Pass River, now almost entirely given over to trees.

As you gradually rise to 1,500 feet, the road begins to trend left, around the headwaters of the river, and you fork right, to come to a gate by which you quit the forest, and turn right, working your way north-west and North, along a fire-stop.

This forest route up the Stoney Pass Glen gives beautiful glimpses back east to the sea, beyond the Vartry Reservoirs and the wide Calary Bog.

You now walk north to about the highest point of the fire-stop, and there turn left and push up to the crest of the heathery ridge joining White Hill (2,078 feet, the southern outlier of Djouce) to the Barr (about 1750 feet).


There is a pretty clear track running north here, across the saddle between these summits.

Keep to the ridge crest, and go north-east and north across White Hill (no cairn).

The ground here is pretty squelchy, covered by sedges and with some boggy pools, and the rusty remnants of wire fencing lead north-north-west up Djouce.

Always the view widens as you climb, and at about 2,100 feet you pass the site of Wicklow's strangest air-crash, the spot where a French plane carrying Girl Guides for a camping holiday in Powerscourt, struck the mountain, almost within sight of their goal, in August 1946.

When the small cairn at Djouce summit is reached, you see that here you have really two mountains in one.

Djouce lies on the junction of the granite and the mica-schist rock, and while the western parts are wet and sedgy, the drier, eastern shoulders carry heather, and have three rocky fangs out-cropping, known as the Three Stones of Djouce.

Westward from the cairn, all the solemn grandeur of central Wicklow is seen.

Go east to the Three Stones, and you see the whole coast of Leinster, from Wexford to the Mournes, and on extra clear days, Wales beyond all the details of Calary and the Sugar Loaf country.

This article has been edited and updated by Cormac Looney and Frank Tracy