Encounters with Water

Sounds of water lapping, squelching, splashing, glugging, flowing are trapped within my hiking boots
which trudged the Wicklow hills.
Heading to the Sally Gap, I don my newly polished boots. Leaving the forest tracks behind, we head
cross country towards Lugalla or Fancy Mountain.
“Watch out for bright green moss” said my companion.
Too late! My boots plunge ankle deep into the soft moist sphagnum moss. Used by soldiers during
World War 1, because of its moisture and antiseptic properties when injuries couldn’t otherwise be
treated. The sphagnum now soaked my socks from their abundant moisture.
On and up we climbed. Small streams flowed from unseen springs. Easy to hop over, but soft brown
boggy patches sucked in the unsuspecting boots. Pulling hard to extract them caused a ‘glug’ and a
heady odour of moist peat. My footwear was beginning to feel heavy.
From Lugalla Mountain, a corrie lake, Lough Tay can be seen sparkling below in the sunshine. Its
waters a brown colour from the many streams flowing in from the surrounding mountains. There are
only a couple of old houses here, allowing for a pollution free lake.
As we drop down to the valley, more areas of wet bog land are encountered. Some parts are so
saturated and deprived of oxygen, causing a most unpleasant odour which should be avoided. True
to form I lost my footing and fell soaking my clothes and already waterlogged boots with this
substance smelling like ‘rotten eggs’.
Following the Cloghoge River which flows from Lough Tay to Lough Dan, we were accompanied by
the lively calls of the Skylarks above and the cool water gurgling over rocks, long since deposited by
the glacier that once moved through this area.
There was the dreaded crossing at what are now the remnants of stepping stones. In this case,
mossy stones waiting to fell a weary traveller. The best that can be said is that the water cleaned
out my stinking socks and boots and added more weight to my poor burdened feet. It also washed
my trousers to the knees and my arms up to the elbows. However, it was all worth it as we rounded
the corner to be greeted by the beautiful Lough Dan, another glacial lake, whose tiny waves lapped
the shoreline.
What an idyllic spot to stop and eat and enjoy a flask of coffee. Boots and socks were laid on a rock
to dry in the sunshine so perhaps I wouldn’t carry that rotten egg smell for too long. A quick plunge
in this crystal clear lake was so refreshing. Our skin looked yellow under the water as these lakes are
fed from streams coming straight out of peaty mountains, giving the water that brown look.
Numerous splashes of trout plucking Maylfy from the surface showed how unpolluted these higher
lakes are.
The Wicklow Mountains are well known for the abundance of rainfall. This day was free from rain
but not from a good wetting.
The Avonmore River flows out of Lough Dan and meets the Avonbeg to become the Avoca River.
Thomas Moore, an Irish Poet and Bard immortalised this River in the Poem and Song ‘The Vale of
Avoca’. The Avoca River completes its journey into the Irish Sea at Arklow. I was glad to witness the
start of these streams and rivers and to inadvertently squeeze water from the mountains into them,
although I think I carried more of it home in my footwear, which to this day has watermarks
permanently imprinted from use in these wonderful interlinked Waterways.