a day's hike to The most solitary spot in wicklow
TREK: In the latest instalment of our historic walks series, JB Malone finds utter solitude on Table Mountain
Maps: OSI Discovery Series: Sheet 56, EastWest Map: Lugnaquilla and Glendalough
First published in the Evening Herald on September 15, 1966
Table Mountain, one of the highest points on the watershed of the Liffey and the Slaney, is certain to preserve its position among the most solitary places in Wicklow, even though the ESB may build their storage power station within four miles of it.
Not everyone enjoys such utter solitude perhaps, but because Table is a watershed mountain, it offers something much more in the shape of a whole series of varied views over different glens, from the deep cleft of Glenmalure to the broad basin of Glen Imaal, from the lakes of the Liffey glen, to the brown wilderness of Glen bride, always provided that you have fair weather.
Remember that because of its height and its isolated position. Table Mountain is no place for solitary rambling, and must not be tackled by any party (large or small) who are not properly equipped with boots, rain gear, food, map and compass.
This mountain is under cloud three days out of five, and its north-east slopes merge rapidly into the flat table-top of the Faragutha mountains, where a trackless jumble of peat-bogs break suddenly down into boggy glens without a stick of shelter.
For walkers, bus timings make Table very definitely a 'fringe mountain', only to be reached in a day by an extra effort.
On Sundays, the only morning bus serving the area leaves you at Annalecky Cross Roads, with more than nine miles between you and the top (via Donard. Ballinclee. Knickeen. and the Stoney Road), and with another seven miles to bring you down to the evening bus at Valleymount.
There is, however, an almost 'fool proof' approach to Table Mountain from Baravore Car Park, at the head of Glenmalure, by way of the footbridge just upstream, and up the Stoney Road to the crest of the Black Banks pass.
This straightforward Baravore approach is the route recommended. The route heads directly north-west upwards from Baravore, initially alongside the Avonbeg river to the crest of the Black Banks pass, 2,283 feet, where you look down into the Glen of Imaal, and where Table Mountain (top 2302 feet) lies only about half-a-mile away, on your right, to northward.
The broken edge of the bog surrounds a wide, stoney area almost like a crater rim, partly cutting off the view of the plains, and making this among the most solitary spots in Wicklow.
I saw Galtymore once from here, the Comeraghs another time and Brandon by Inisteigue, and the Poulaphouca Lake clear in the north-west.
Return to Barravore Car Park by the same route.
This article has been edited and updated by Frank Tracy