The Island of Ireland is a Mosaic of many different landscape types, including Mountain and upland regions, the most fertile farmland in the world, raised bogs, diverse forests, open moorland, 6 National parks, many lakes, rivers and waterfalls deep valleys and rugged cliffs.
Co. Wicklow is a microcosm of the rest of Ireland the most spectacular, just south of Dublin, which despite its proximity to the capital contains many kilometres of wonderfully unspoilt mountain trails of which The Wicklow Way is the best known. In fact the Wicklow Way was the first way marked trail in Ireland having been formally established in 1980.
The Wicklow Way is now part of a network of long-distance self-guided walking trails, throughout Ireland. The Wicklow Way combines easy accessibility with a wide variety of scenic experiences, some of them in truly remote upland areas. They include mountains, upland lakes, steep-sided glacial valleys, fast flowing mountain streams, forests and farmland. The Wicklow Way route is now the most westerly section of the E8 footpath which extends across much of Europe.
The Wicklow Way begins in Dublin's southern suburb of Rathfarnham and travels in a south-south-westerly direction across the Dublin and Wicklow uplands, then through the rolling hill country of southwest County Wicklow to finish in the small, County Carlow village of Clonegal 127 kilometres later.
A combination of suburban parkland, forest trails, wild and scenic mountain landscape and finally rolling countryside offers a wonderfully varied, 6 to 10 day experience for a hill-walker of average fitness. En route the Wicklow Way passes mountain lakes, ruined buildings - stark reminders of previous widespread human habitation - occasional memorials to historic events of past centuries and extensive remains of the early Christian monastic settlement in the beautiful Glendalough valley.
Anyone setting out to walk a long distance trail such as the Wicklow Way is embarking on a serious test of physical endurance and requires very careful and detailed planning.
Our Wicklow way walking holiday takes care of all necessary details and planning, including airport transfers, pick up and drop off each day, full board accommodation and all meals to make this a most enjoyable experience and can be spread over 6 to 10 days, the following itinerary completes the walk in 7 walking days with an average of 12 miles or 18km per day.
Marley Park to Cuttlestown
Distance: 21km | Ascent: 600m | Time: 7hrs
We drive you to Marley Park; the Wicklow Way begins at the car park adjacent to Marley House, with its courtyard of interesting craft workshops and a coffee shop. The trail wanders through the delightful surroundings of this fine suburban public park, before passing under the M50 motorway to begin the walk's first ascent southwards towards the Dublin and Wicklow mountains and the first of several forest vistas.
Passing Kilmashogue, Fairy Castle (536m), Two Rock and Tibradden mountains the trail descends to reach the Glencullen road at Ballybrack after 9 km, the route then turns south to cross the Glencullen River. The hike then begins the ascent towards Prince William's Seat (555m) followed by a zigzag descent towards the Enniskerry to Glencree road at about 17km, directly north of Knockree Hill.
This area is known as Cuttlestown, the point where todays walk ends and where our transport will be waiting for you.
Those wishing to explore a little off-trail can visit the picturesque village of Enniskerry, and Powerscourt House and Gardens time permitting.
Cuttlestown, Djouce to Loughdan
Distance: 18km | Ascent: 500m | Time: 6.5hrs
After breakfast we leave you at yesterday’s finishing point (30 minutes’ drive).
The walk starts at Cuttlestown on the Glencree to Enniskerry road and heads towards Knockree following quite country roads and some forest track, to arrive at crone wood forest car park, from here the route zig zags uphill trough woodland giving occasional glimpses of the Great Sugar loaf Mountain to the east, at ride rock the path narrows between a railing and a dramatic rocky outcrop.
A wonderful view opens out before you, with Djouce Mountain as the backdrop to Powerscourt Deer-park, its waterfall is the highest in Ireland 121meters, The path, which is rocky and narrow in places, follows along a cliff overlooking the Valley for some 500 meters, a spectacular sight. You soon come in view of another valley Glensoulan and the upper dargle river, which feeds the Powerscourt Waterfall.
Soon you reach a well-trodden green path, which leads to the shoulder of Djouce Mountain, passing an obvious path to the summit 725 meters. On a clear day this climb is well worth the effort, to avoid re tracing your steps head south and re-join the Wicklow way a little distance further on. The way rises gently to reach a saddle between Djouse and White hill, a short distance further on you enjoy views of Dublin harbour to Howth peninsula to the north, the great sugarloaf to the east and rolling hills to the south.
The summit of Djouse is where an Aeroplane crashed in thick fog on a August evening in 1946, the plane had 22 French girl guides and a crew 5 on board, despite the fact the plane was totally wrecked with passengers and crew scattered over a wide area in atrocious weather conditions, Lord Oranmore and Browne of Luggala estate, his staff and neighbours mounted a rescue operation and succeeded in bringing all 27 persons to safety, there were no fatalities, and none of the present day professional rescue aids or trained personal.
The walk now reaches a section of raised boardwalk for some 3 kilometres, put in place by the Wicklow Mountains National Park authorities to prevent erosion of the blanket bog and its vegetation, the finally descends to reach a Memorial to J. B. Malone, the person who planned and developed the original Wicklow Way, Irelands first long distance way marked walking route. You continue down the boardwalk towards the pier gates, all the while enjoying fine views of Luggala estate, Lough Tay and Lough Dan in the distance. Your walk ends at pier gates where you will find our bus waiting to take you back to Lough Dan House.
Pier Gates to Glendalough
Distance: 12km | Ascent: 350m | Time: 4hrs
Option 2 distance: 17km and 641m ascent
Following the first two stages of the Wicklow Way at around 20km each, stage three comes as a pleasant contrast with the trail being just 10-12km long. This will allow some time for exploring the very heart of the Wicklow uplands located at the junction of four major glacial valleys (Avonmore, Glenmacnass, Glendasen and Glendalough) this area has much to offer both scenically and historically and those who can spare an extra day to explore it will be richly rewarded.
Your walk today starts from where you finished yesterday, (10 minute drive) and you have two excellent options.
Regain the Wicklow Way at Pier gates to Oldbridge, continue hiking on the public road for a further 3km over Drummin, turning right at 40km onto a lane. This leads to the north-eastern shoulder of Paddock Hill.
The walking route continues over the hill and then descends to cross the Glenmacnass road. continuing to Glendalough remain on the route which immediately enters Brockagh Forest a spectacular mixture of native woodland and conifer plantation, This is followed by the hauntingly , monastery, our transport will collect you in the pub or at the visitors centre at a pre-arranged time.
This walk starts at Lough Dan house and finishes at Glendalough. Once again we start our walk with fine views of Loughdan as we make our way up the early slopes of Kanturk mountain and across a fine moorland of heather, alive to the strange sounds of nature from a variety of insects busy with their way of survival to hill birds including red grouse, snipe and plover to mention a few, you will also share your walk with sheep and deer at some point.
Those birds were once hunted extensively as a much south after game bird, however their numbers almost fell to extinction following changes to moor management practices including a forestation and extensive sheep farming in the 1950 to 1990 period, efforts are now being made to redress this and other upland problems.
You soon reach the numerous small hills of Kanturk and wind your way ahead looking out for a distinctive egg shaped granite rock, perched what appears precariously on top of a small hill and has been in this position since the last ice age, it is now your marker to easily find the path which leads on to brown mountain. From here you have perfect views of Lough Dan House to the east and to the west, Glenmacnass waterfall. Moving along the easily followed path and after a short sharp climb uphill you soon reach the summit of scar mountain 641 metres. This is a good place to have lunch where you can enjoy the immensity of the range of mountains to the north, west and south where they seem to extend to eternity, and to the east a complete contrast with low rolling hills which extend down to the coast. On a clear day the summit of Snowden in Wales can be seen from here towering above its neighbours, you now continue down the east face to re-join the Wicklow Way at Paddock hill and continue to Glendalough.
Glendalough to Glenmalure
Distance: 14km | Ascent: 400m | Time: 4.5hrs
Those who have the time to spare could profitably spend a whole day walking and exploring the Glendalough area as it has much to offer both scenically and historically.
The Wicklow Way crosses the main valley floor, just after the Visitors Centre, via a footbridge over the Glendasen River, and continues up-valley to Poulanass waterfall. Here the trail turns into the Lugduff valley and the start of a 4-5 km uphill trek of 400m to the shoulder of Mullacor (657m), crossing the boggy saddle between it and Lugduff on a boardwalk.
A descent of similar magnitude follows into the Glenmalure Valley. This provides panoramic views up the valley, along Lugduff ridge and then southwest to Art's Lough, Fraughan Rock Glen and Lugnaquilla (Wicklow's highest mountain) on the descent to the end of this stage at the Glenmalure Lodge at 62km. After a well-deserved pint we collect you at the Glenmalure Lodge.
Glenmalure to Moyne
Distance: 21km | Ascent: 550m | Time: 7hrs
This is a slightly longer stage of the Wicklow Way that takes the walking route through the southern upland section and into the rolling hills of southwest Wicklow. It finishes with views west to the flatter farmland of County Carlow.
Beginning with an ascending trek through the pleasantly forested slopes of Slieve- Maan, the trail reaches (and briefly stays on) the Military Road after yet another 400m ascent over a distance of some 6km. The walking path then circles the upper slopes of Carrickashane (508m) before descending to reach the Ow River valley at the Iron Bridge at approximately 75km from Marley Park.
A more gradual ascent then takes the trail across Ballyteigue Bridge before slicing south-westwards between Ballygobban Mountain (447m) and Sheilstown Hill (536m).
The stage finishes with a quiet road walk southwards to the tiny and once picturesque Georgian hamlet of Moyne at 84km this point marks the end of the mountain stages as the terrain changes to the quiet, leafy laneways and green roads of the gentle hill-country from here almost to the finish at Clonegal.
Moyne to Shillelagh
Distance: 21km | Ascent: 500m | Time: 7hrs
From Moyne, the Wicklow Way follows an easy walking path round the base of Ballycumber hill and Coolafunshoge to reach (and briefly follow) the road from Hackettstown to Tinahely at 95km. This makes an ideal stage-end for those who broke the journey at The Iron Bridge.
The colourful array of wild flowers along the hedgerows is a sheer delight from here to Clonegal as each jostles for a maximum share of sunshine.
A leafy green road contours the lower slopes of Muskeagh Hill and onwards to Mullinacuff and Stranakelly cross roads. Here Tallon's Pub, it's known to all as 'The Dying Cow', provides a perfect excuse for a thirst-slaking pint to celebrate crossing the 100km line at Mullinacuff.
A further 6km brings the Wicklow Way to the R725 road to Shillelagh. Taking care crossing this some-times busy road continue following the way to Boley Bridge where our transport will be waiting for you, after an short visit and perhaps a pint in the picturesque village of Shillelagh we set out for a relaxing and pleasant drive back to Lough Dan house for dinner and a well earned rest
Shillelagh to Clonegal
Distance: 19km | Ascent: 300m | Time: 6hrs
This stage of the Wicklow Way is in two sections; the early walk through Raheenakit Forest and around Stokeen, Moylisha and Urelands hills contrasts sharply with the final kilometres along the broad valley of the Derry River, from the Wicklow/Carlow boundary at Wicklow Bridge, into Clonegal.
Either Sean O'Duinn's or Osborne's (the latter might include a completion certificate with the price of your pint!) will prove a fitting location in which to celebrate your achievement of completing the 127km walk, as you await the arrival of your pre-arranged transport.
Alternatively if time permits we will give you a short visit to Huntington Castle and grounds which is located in the village.
We now return to Loughdan House for your final night, next morning we leave you in Dublin Airport or other location in the City centre.