The mountains of Wicklow can be deceptive to those who dismiss their relatively small size and rounded appearance. The combination of boggy and sometimes featureless terrain can create challenges for those exploring the hills. Across the mountains there are rough tracks made by both walkers and animals but waymarked trails are not common. To explore most of the mountains one must be self reliant in terms of navigation and safety. If you wish to follow a waymarked trail there are long and short distance options which are described in Recreation.
If venturing off into the hills please take note of the following:
Proper planning will reduce the chance of anything going wrong.
Choose a route to match your skills and ability and those who accompany you.
Equip yourselves adequately - good boots are essential; over 25% of injury attended to by Mountain Rescue personnel are related to lower leg injuries.
Always have a map and compass, more importantly know how to use them.
Remember mountains create their own weather systems - it's colder up there - allow 1 degree for every 100m climbed and it's windier up there too, about 2 to 3 times stronger than in the valleys - prepare for these conditions by carrying adequate clothing including hat and gloves.
The mountains are often covered by a low cloud base - don't expect good visibility to navigate by.
Mobile phones do not always get reception in the mountains - don't rely on them.
Mountain rivers are often subject to periodic flooding after heavy rain - this could mean the stream you crossed with ease earlier could be a raging torrent on your return. Do not take risks with flooded rivers - be aware of the weather and be flexible with your choice of route.
If you don't feel confident leading yourself - get the skills - contact a course provider in Mountain Skills.
In the event of something going wrong:
If lost - don't panic - try to work out where you are and figure out if you can help yourself out of the situation.
In a genuine emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue.
If you have a group - keep them safe and warm while waiting for help.
If you have an injured person keep them as warm and comfortable as possible. Treat any injuries to the best of your ability.
For more information on safety in the mountains consult the leaflet "Walk safely....in the Irish hills and countryside." from the Mountaineering Council.
*Remember if you are leading groups in the hills, especially children, you have extra responsibilities to ensure the safety of all your group. Leadership training courses in the form of Walking Group Leader and Mountain Leader are available nationally, contact www.mountaineering.ie for information on providers in your area.
Mountain Rescue is a voluntary service working under the auspices of the Gardaí. The Irish Mountain Rescue Association comprises eleven Mountain Rescue Teams (MRT) and one national search and rescue dog team (SARDA). Of these the Glen of Imaal Red Cross Team and the Dublin/Wicklow Team cover the Wicklow area with assistance from SARDA and the South Eastern MRT (SEMRA).
Mountain Rescue teams are made up of individuals who are highly trained in a number of specialist areas like 'first-responder', wilderness medical care, emergency medical technician, crag rescue, communications and search management.
Their service and skills are invaluable to the people living, working and recreating in the Wicklow Mountains. The Wicklow Mountains National Park works closely with MR teams in the provision of assistance to persons lost, stranded or injured in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. National Park staff are encouraged to train in search and rescue skills and several staff members are part of the Glen of Imaal Red Cross team.
To support MR or find out more information on MR in Wicklow:Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue Team
Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team