At first sight, Ballycurragh seems no more promising that its forest-infested neighbours, Ballyteige and Carrickshane, but I found it a lot better than its reputation.
On the one hand, if you are only intent on bagging another top, it has got a lot easier of late. Starting at the forest entrance at ClBlTag Ldg (T075 823)
(unmarked on the OSI 1:50,000, but detectable on the Healy map), head upwards until you reach A (T073 820)
. Here the main forest track turns sharply right, into the forest interior, but to the left a relatively new track now goes straight to the top of the hill between the edge of the forest on the right and fenced pastureland on the left. I would be inclined to place the summit – a rather pretentious word here – just to the right of where the track meets a wall of forest at the top, but a small mound of stones about a hundred yards to the left of this, at D (T0567 8229)
, obviously enjoys greater favour (see photo).
If, on the other hand, you want to get the best from this 500+ hill, I would suggest a circuit that follows at first the Wicklow Way, starting either at E (T074 843)
(limited parking by the roadside) or higher up at C (T070 836)
(better parking) where the route enters the forest. The zigzagging forest trails on the OSI map are still accurate and allow one to plot the best course to the top without difficulty. I saved a GPS track of my walk and found, when later seen on the computer against the calibrated background of the scanned OSI map, that it followed the forest trails perfectly until it reached F (T063 828)
, approaching the top. Then, however, the track looped more widely around to the southwest. The forest trail now continues on beyond what is indicated on the OSI and soon begins to descend, so at some point there is nothing for it but to brave a prickly climb through the final few hundred metres of forest to the left. I branched off myself at G (T055 824)
When you emerge by the summit, just follow the track between forest edge and fence down to the road, as described above, turn left and walk the final two or three kilometres back to your starting point. All in all, the hike amounts to 11 or 12kms. It’s true that the view from the top of Ballycurragh is slightly disappointing, since it is really only clear to the SE, but the wider circuit of the mountain will not disappoint. It offers a fine view of Croaghanmoira to the NE and of Lugnaquillia South Prison to the NW from unusual angles. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/381/comment/3053/