Ireland’s Ice Age has left a wonderful legacy in Wicklow National Park with its unique topography. Aptly named the “Garden” of Ireland. Corrie lakes, U-shaped valleys, alpine heath and mountain cliffs captivate the visitor in a largely uninhabited landscape with vistas of the Irish Sea.
Discover the picturesque valleys of Glenmalure and the Glen of Immal. Hike in the rugged beauty of Lugnaquilla and experience the peace and tranquillity of Glendalough. This is home to a 6th century monastic settlement nestled in the valley of two lakes. In addition to this the warmth of the people, the cosy pubs, the charming villages and delicious organic food and you have just found your “perfect” Wicklow Way Hike!
You can enjoy these long distance walks travelling from North to South (starting in Dublin) or South to North (finishing in Dublin). From our experience, the former is the best option for the hikers experience.
Getting to the start of the Wicklow Way
If Wicklow is your chosen destination for a hike in Ireland then flying in to Dublin Airport is your best option. The airport is located just 15km from the city centre and is serviced but the Aircoach public bus. You could also jump in to a cab to your hotel and get there is around 20 minutes.
Dublin, the capital of Ireland offers a mix of old and new, with historic buildings dating to the 13th century, contrasting with state of the art infrastructure, and is a hive of activity.
If you have time on your arrival day, or have a day to spare, there is a multitude of things to do and sights to see. You can visit the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, Molly Malone. Take a hop on hop off bus tour, or even a bus tour on an amphibious bus!
If you would like to have a drink while learning about the literary history of Dublin you could take a Literary Pub Crawl.
We can also provide you with the trails for our Dublin City Treks. These walks take you around the historical locations of this modern European City and follow the trail of “Molly Malone” where she wheeled her wheelbarrow…. through Dublin’s fair city !!!
Starting the Wicklow Way Hike – Dublin to Enniskerry
This hiking trail starts in Marley Park in a southern suburb of the city. We will arrange for you to be transferred by taxi to the car park here to start. We recommend taking your time here to explore Marley House and Demesne – an 18th century Georgian House located on 12 acres of land – before setting off.
Your hike will take you through Marlay Park before rising to cross the Dublin Mountains, enjoying sea and mountain views.
As you cross into County Wicklow you will enter Wicklow Mountains National Park. Along the way you have the option to take a detour to visit Irelands highest Pub – Johnny Foxes – before descending into the Glencree Valley and following waymarked trails in to Enniskerry village.
For your evening dining there is some lovely dining options, such as the Enniskerry Inn and McGills at the Powerscourt Hotel.
Enniskerry to Roundwood Trail
The next part of the Wicklow Way continues across the Glencree Valley, around the shoulder of Djouce Mountain and over White Hill to finish in the lovely village of Roundwood.
This walk takes you past the impressive Powerscourt Waterfall before following forest trails to walk around Djouce Mountain. You will then reach the highest part of the route on White Hill.
As you descend you have glorious views of the spectacular glacial lakes of Lough Tay (aka Guinness Lake) and Lough Dan.
At the end of the route you will follow small country roads to your B&B, either at Oldbridge or Lough Dan.
Dining options for this night are best in Laragh – your hosts will usually transfer/ arrange for you to get there. The top dining options are Wicklow Heather Restaurant and Casey’s Bar & Bistro.
Roundwood to Laragh visiting Glendalough
Leaving the Roundwood area you will retrace your steps on the country roads to rejoin the Wicklow Way route.
This hike brings you around the perimeter of the Barton Estate before crossing Paddock Hill and descending along an old Mass Path to Laragh.
As the hike is less than 10km you will have time to visit Glendalough – home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the “Monastic City”.
Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th through 12th centuries. Despite attacks by Vikings over the years, Glendalough thrived as one of Ireland’s great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D. and the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin were united.
Close to the monastic city is the interactive centre. The centre features an audio visual and has a model of the monastic site on display. You will be welcomed by a friendly and knowledgeable staff where all your questions will be answered. Glendalough is one of the top attraction on Ireland’s Ancient East
Exploring Laragh and Glendalough
We highly recommend taking an extra day in Laragh to explore the environs of Glendalough in greater detail. You may wish to visit the buildings of the monastic city and the interpretative centre.
There are also numerous short, looped walks in the area. You can hike to Glenmacnas Waterfall, Glendasan Valley or to the ancient lead mines in Glendalough. Alternatively, you may wish to do the beautiful woodland walk beside the river in the Devil’s Glen.
There is a number of private bus companies offer transport from Glendalough, which makes it possible to do excursions to Avondale Forest, Rathdrum – the location of the home of Charles Stewart Parnell – or Avoca, the filming location for the 90s TV Ballykissangel, which gave Colin Farrell his acting debut!
Laragh to Glenmalure and back
From Laragh walk back into the valley of Glendalough before climbing to cross over into the valley of Glenmalure.
This walk follows an old “green road” to near the Upper Lake before climbing steeply beside Poulanass Waterfall and continuing to the pass of Borenacrow. You will have the option to climb Mullacor Mountain from the pass.
Descending into Glenmalure – with wonderful views of the valley and Lugnaquilla, which is the highest mountain in County Wicklow – you finish your walk at the Drumgoff/Glenmalure crossroads.
You will overnight nearby, with your dining option being the Glenmalure Lodge.
Following a restful night you will return to the crossroads where you finished yesterday. You will return back to Laragh today, crossing the mountains along a different route over the summit of Mullacor.
The trail continues along the mountain ridge to Cullentragh Mountain and Derrybawn Mountain, before descending to Glendalough. Enjoy your third, and final night, in Laragh before tomorrows departure.
Departing the Wicklow Way
To leave Laragh by public transport you have one option – St. Kevin’s bus – which departs Glendalough and Laragh at 07.00, 16.30 and 09.45 (peak season). The journey takes around 2 hours in the morning and 2.5 in the afternoon. From the city centre stops there is multiple options to get off and connect with the Aircoach to get the the airport or walk to your hotel in the city if you are not leaving Ireland.
You can also take a private taxi back to Dublin or the Airport, costing around €130.00 and getting you there in under an hour.