Duration: 5 Days / 4 Nights From £545
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Trip created by Dawn Rainbolt
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Ireland is a small island that packs a bundle. Most people head straight to the west coast, leaving the east coast somewhat overlooked. The Wicklow Way, Ireland’s premier long distance trail, meanders through Wicklow Mountains National Park in Ireland’s Ancient East.
Starting from Dublin’s bustling city centre, the Wicklow Way tracks through glorious mountain valleys, lush forests, crystal clear lakes and heathery uplands. On the cultural end, visit ancient monastic sites, historic estates, famine villages and the so-called ‘Guinness Lake.’ Covering about 70 kilometres, this walking trip is perfect for a short break, exploring some of Ireland’s forgotten backcountry of the Wicklow Mountains, before landing back in the vibrant Irish capital.
Relax in a perfect combination of cosy village B&Bs before finishing up with a night in a deluxe eco-lodge. Focus on the trail and its jaw-dropping views as transport to and from Dublin, luggage transfers and private transfers to the trailhead are all prearranged where required. By choosing a self guided trip, enjoy the flexibility of walking at your own pace.
This trip takes place in Ireland. Interested in other adventures on the Emerald Isle? Check out these trips from Wilderness Ireland.
You will be met in Dublin and transferred to Ireland’s highest pub, Johnny Fox’s, where you’ll have the chance to pick up some lunch before walking to the start point of your first day on the Wicklow Way. Tracking through woodlands before reaching open hillside blanketed in rich purple heather, today’s walk is a perfect introduction to things to come. Your first stunning views open out before you as you walk along the shoulder of the hill known as Prince William’s Seat. Cross the county boundary between Dublin and Wicklow somewhere along the way as you head further into the rich wilds of the Wicklow Mountains. After your first day’s walk, arrive back at your B&B where you’ll find your bags waiting for you.
Hike details: 11km / 7 miles | 300m ascent
Back on the trail, you’ll follow forest tracks until you reach the outskirts of the Powerscourt Estate. Drink in the stunning, panoramic views of Powerscourt’s famous waterfall, the tallest in Ireland. History buffs might like to learn about Powerscourt’s association with Charles Parnell, a vocal advocate for Irish home rule in the late 1800s. The official Wicklow Way trail itself winds below Djouce Hill, but if weather conditions and energy levels allow, a detour to the summit is well worth it. Enjoy expansive views of the heathery hills as you descend into the sweeping Luggala Valley towards glittering Lough Tay – nicknamed the “Guinness Lake.” Ancestral home of the Guinness family, this valley and the house on the shore of the lake have profound associations with many of Ireland’s literary and artistic greats. This evening you’ll leave the trail to spend the night in the wee traditional village of Roundwood. (B)
Hike details: 18km / 11 miles | 500m ascent
Until the terrible Great Famine of the 1840s, this part of Wicklow was heavily populated and farmed. As you walk keep an eye out for the remains of the tiny cottages and the ridges of long-abandoned potato fields dotting the green countryside. Upon approaching the village of Laragh, you will reach the junction with the final section of St Kevin’s Way, an ancient pilgrimage route or mass path that brought worshippers to the shrine of St Kevin at Glendalough. Though slightly off the trail, we recommended allowing the time to explore the jewel in the Wicklow Way’s crown: the ancient monastic site of Glendalough. Early medieval Ireland was Europe’s centre of culture with scholars travelling from all over to study at the country’s great monastic centres. Glendalough was one of the biggest and most famous of all. Today offers the best scenery of the trip as you crest the hills above Gledalough’s Upper and Lower lakes at the junction of four glaciated valleys. (B)
It is possible to split today into 2 days, spending the night near Glendalough.
Hike details: 26 km / 16 miles | 750m ascent
Leaving behind the peaks of the Wicklow Mountains, today you will meander through brilliant forest tracks criss crossing the rolling landscape of south Wicklow. Offering views over the emerald farmlands of Ireland’s Ancient East, this is the quietest part of the trail and chances are you will have it to yourself. Finish up at the Iron Bridge, one of the Wicklow Way’s most remote sports. You will be met here at Iron Bridge on the River Ow and transferred to the eco-lodge where you can relax in luxury. Access to the geo-thermally-powered thermal suite is included – a perfect opportunity to soak your tired legs at the end of the trail. There are also a few dining options on site including Ireland’s finest organic certified restaurant where you will feast on ingredients foraged in the hills through which you hiked. (B)
Hike details: 14km/ 8.5 miles | 200 m ascent
*Please note that spa treatments are not included and should be booked in advance
This morning, you will be transferred back to Dublin (city or airport) after check out. You may choose to return home, or carry on your stay. (B)
This self guided hiking trip features accommodations chosen for their excellent location, service and comfort along or near the Wicklow Way. On some days you will walk directly to your accommodation (this may add additional distance to the hike lengths above) and on others you will be met at the trailhead and transferred to your accommodation.
This trip also includes a stay at a Deluxe-grade eco lodge, in addition to classic-grade comfortable and characterful lodging in B&Bs, family-run hotels or guesthouses, both in towns as well as in rural communities.
Accommodation is a choice of double or twin rooms, which are en-suite with a shower. Single rooms may be available at additional cost.
Each morning, enjoy a homemade breakfast of your choice at your accommodation. You will be able to order a packed lunch to each on the trail at your accommodation each evening or pick it up at our recommended local cafe.
You will be met at your chosen location in Dublin City or at Dublin Airport on the morning of your first day, and transferred to Johnny Fox’s pub, a short walk from Wicklow Way trailhead.
You will be collected and transferred to Dublin City or Dublin Airport before 12.00pm on the final day of your trip. Extended stays at the eco-lodge or in Dublin City can be arranged.
It is possible to separate days 3 and 4 into two shorter days and add an additional night onto your trip.
As founder of Wilderness Scotland Paul’s craving for adventure and knowledge of Scotland knows no bounds. His leadership has resulted in Wilderness Scotland twice being named as Best Green Tour Operator in the World at the World Travel Awards and ranked as No.1 Adventure Travel Company in Europe by National Geographic. Paul’s commitment to excellence in all that he pursues becomes obvious in the routes we follow and the little touches included in this tripAsk Paul a Question
Blue Graded Self Guided Holidays 4-6
Self guided Blue graded walking holidays are suitable for fit and experienced hikers. Walking at a good pace you can expect to be out for 6-8 hours a day. You will be following a trail but should understand how to follow a hiking map with at least basic navigation skills. Daily distances will vary – typically up to 20km but may be longer occasionally, or often on the more challenging trips in the grade. Daily hike details are available in the itinerary.
Trail conditions will vary from well laid and maintained sections of gravel track to rough and rocky sections including muddy and wet areas. Short sections may be on tarmac.