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The Wicklow Way self-guided walking tour
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Highlights

  • Exploring the amazing ruins of Glendalough’s 6th century Monastic City
  • Walking through the majestic Glenmalure Glacial Valley
  • Experiencing the famous Irish hospitality at friendly hand-picked B&B’s
  • Taking a rest to soak in some of the best views Ireland has to offer
  • Sipping a pint of the ‘black stuff’ to reward your achievement

The Wicklow Way is Ireland’s oldest way-marked trail, pioneered by famous hill walker, J.B. Malone. This popular walk stretches from just south of Dublin, through the Wicklow Mountains and on to County Carlow, to reveal some of the most spectacular views in the Emerald Isle.

Hike past Ireland’s highest waterfall and discover why the tranquil Lough Tay has gained the name ‘Guinness Lake’. 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.

Your trip begins in the lively city of Dublin, packed full of centuries-old monuments, including Trinity College and Dublin Castle. A quick bus journey brings you to the traditional start of the walk at Marlay Park.

A choice of itineraries means if you’re short on time, you can opt to cover the highlights of the Wicklow Way and finish at Tinahely, or alternatively continue the full length of the Way through to the small village of Clonegal in County Carlow.

You will pass some of the most striking scenery, through the long glacial Glenmalure Valley and with luck giving you glimpses of the multitude of wildlife abundant in this area. The walk is testament to the achievements of the people that live here, with Glendalough being home to the 6th Century monastic city which was the seat of European learning for 6 centuries. With the magnificent Powerscourt and Guinness estates on route as well, the Wicklow Way will spoil you with sites of both natural and man-made beauty.

Some images courtesy of/copyright Failte Ireland

The Wicklow Way is a beautiful walk through County Wicklow filled with stunning scenery and amazing history.


Section 1: Dublin, Marlay Park to Enniskerry (Knockree) -21km

Arrive in lively Dublin, a great introduction to the Emerald Isle! Ireland’s charismatic capital boasts many landmarks and monuments dating back hundreds of years. Visit the castle and Trinity College, and sip a pint of the ‘black stuff’ in a traditional Irish pub.


The Wicklow Way officially starts at Marlay Park, on the southern edge of the city (an easy bus ride away). Walk through the park’s pleasant
wooded paths to the open hillsides of the
mountains and glens south of Dublin. Pass Glencullen Forest and continue on down towards Glencree. Picturesque Enniskerry is 4km off the trail and a good overnight option, with its beautiful Powerscourt House and Gardens. Ascent approx. 600m.


Section 2: Enniskerry to Roundwood - 20km

Start the day with a spectacular view over the Powerscourt waterfall (Ireland’s highest at 121m) and Deer Park. Soon you’ll embark on a steady ascent across the exposed shoulder of Djouce mountain and across the saddle onto White Hill.


In good weather you may wish to summit Djouce (725m) and you’ll see great views of Dublin Harbour, the Howth Peninsula in the north, Great Sugarloaf to the east and rolling hills to the south. Follow a raised walkway (to protect the fragile blanket bog) with more fantastic views to brooding Lough Tay as you descend into the Luggala Valley, home to the ‘Guinness’ estate. Ascent approx. 500m.



Section 3: Roundwood to Glendalough—12km

This section is characterised by easy walking with moderate gradients (up to 350m)   along quiet roads, forest track and mountain paths, edged by heather, gorse and spruce. You are in the very heart of the Wicklow uplands and at the intersection of four major glacial valleys (Avonmore, Glenmacnass, Glendasan and Glendalough).



Hike the north-eastern shoulder of Paddock Hill, descending to cross Glenmacnass  river. The path to Laragh (close to Glendalough) runs along part of an old mass path, heavily used by churchgoers and school children before the advent of motor vehicles. Friendly bed and breakfast or guest house accommodation awaits at Laragh, with the 6th century Monastic City of Glendalough close by (if you’ve time, it’s well worth adding an extra day at this point, as the area has so much to offer scenically and historically). Ascent approx. 350m.


Section 4: Glendalough to Glenmalure—14km

Set out across the floor of the Valley of the Saints. Reach the Lugduff Valley where you’ll pass by the mysterious green waterfall of Poulanass, before starting on a 4-5km uphill section of 400m to the shoulder of Mullacor, crossing the saddle on a well-placed boardwalk over the boggy ground.


With lovely panoramic vistas all around, head down into the Glenmalure Valley, admiring Wicklow’s highest mountain, Lugnaquilla. You will end this stage of the walk right in the heart of the lovely Glenmalure Valley. Ascent approx. 400m.



Section 5: Glenmalure to Moyne— 21km


Hike through the southern upland section and into the undulating emerald hills of  southwest Wicklow on this longer stage. Cross the forestcloaked slopes of Slieve Maan, ascending around 400m over 6km, before reaching a Military Road and almost touching the summit of Carrickashane (508m).


Cross the River Ow at Iron Bridge (Aughavannagh), where peaty water falls over the rocks in rapids. From Iron Bridge the path’s nature changes from steeper inclines/ascents to gentler gradients that meander between low hills.


Section 6: Moyne to Shillelagh—21km

Grassy lanes dominate this section, with some track through beech woodland as you head towards the Georgian village of Tinahely, a short distance from the Way. Tinahely is known for its charming triangular market square and annual agricultural  show. In springtime admire the array of delicate wild flowers in the hedgerows that line the minor roads you’ll be following.


The path contours around the lower slopes of
Muskeagh Hill before arriving at Mullinacuff, the
the 100km mark of the Wicklow Way. It’s only fitting therefore, to reward yourself with a pint at Tallon’s Pub, also known as ‘The Dying Cow’ thanks to local folklore!


Quieter minor roads lead the 2km into Shillelagh. Shillelagh is famed for giving its name to the quintessential Irish stick hewn from an ash tree or hawthorn bush, and this craft is still practised in the village. From this point there is more road walking than the previous stages. Ascent approx. 500m.



Section 7: Shillelagh to Clonegal—19km


Raheenakit means ‘fort of the cat’, recalling the time before wildcats became extinct in Ireland. Pass through farmland, around Moylisha and Urelands Hills and cultivated forests on this final stage of the Way.
  


Pass over Wicklow Bridge (the Wicklow/Carlow boundary), with just a further 3km to the one-street village Clonegal, where you’ll find the terminus of the Way opposite the green. In addition to 400-year old Huntington Castle, Osbourne’s pub is a local attraction, with its bar counter made from old coffin lids (completion certificates for the walk may also be offered)!


It is a further 5.5km (a short taxi transfer is included) onwards to the largest of the Wicklow Way’s towns, Bunclody (just inside the northern border of County Wexford), with its welcoming bed and breakfast properties. From Bunclody you can depart with the twice-daily bus via Kildavn back to Dublin.



 

Accommodation

One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. We specifically choose the hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&B’s to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.


Below you will find a list of the accommodation we regularly use which will give you a good idea of the standard of accommodation we use.


Single Rooms

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Accommodation Location

We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in the itinerary, but because of limited availability we may have to accommodate you at an alternative location. Alternative details will be noted on your accommodation sheet.


Due the route taken by the Wicklow Way, it is often necessary to accommodate you sometimes up to a few kilometres walk away from the trail itself, as there is not always suitable accommodation close to the trail. Please take this into consideration when working out your daily walking distances. Details will again be given on your accommodation sheet.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs or restaurants.




 

 

 



Sunnindale Country House - Tinahely



Sunnindale Country House - Tinahely

The house has an elevated south facing aspect with panoramic views of woodlands and the Derry river which passes through the bottom of the garden.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Glenmalure Lodge - Glenmalure



Glenmalure Lodge - Glenmalure

The Lodge is situated in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains (The Garden of Ireland) in the longest glacial valley in these islands, making it the perfect holiday destination


 

 

 


 

 

 



Woodbrook - Glendalough



Woodbrook - Glendalough

A warm welcome and a great location in the Glendalough Valley await you at Woodbrook. The Monastic City of Glendalough is only 2 kilometres away and the house has all modern conveniences and all rooms are ensuite.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Tóchar Cottage - Roundwood



Tóchar Cottage - Roundwood

Tóchar Cottage, a friendly, family-run Bed and Breakfast, is two minutes walk from the centre of Roundwood village. Guests are greeted on arrival with complimentary tea or coffee and home-made scones.


 

 

 

Availablity

The Wicklow Way holiday is available from mid-March to mid-October. You can start your holiday on any date in the season.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs or restaurants.


Navigation & Maps

The Wicklow Way is well waymarked however you will also be supplied with the Rucksack Readers guidebook and detailled maps so you will have no problem following the route each day.


Grade & Terrain

This walk is graded moderate and includes daily of walks of between 12-21km following footpaths and some roadwalking and several ascents and descents along the way. You should have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this tour.


Baggage Transfers 

Daily door to door baggage transfer is included in the price of your trip. We ask you to keep your baggage to a minimum of 1 bag per person (maximum weight 20kg)


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hopsital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent / descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants) sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.






Getting to Dublin / from Wicklow



Dublin Airport is easily accessible from the UK with several low-cost airlines covering the route as well as scheduled international carriers. Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead to Dublin.


From the airport there is a good bus service into Dublin city centre.


To get from Dublin city centre to the start of the walk at Marlay Park you take a 20-mins bus journey.


Getting from Wicklow is relatively simple, taking either a bus or train to Dublin. A twice-daily Bus Eireann Expressway service runs from Bunclody to Dublin's city-centre bus station (Busáras) at Store Street.


A Wicklow Way Bus Service also operates along the route, transporting walkers from (amongst other locations) Tinahely to the nearest train station at Rathdrum, with Dublin then a 1h30 train ride away. See Irish Rail for timetables.


Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend taking out travel insurance to cover cancellation or curtailment of your trip.

 

Included

  • 6 or 9 Nights bed and breakfast accommodation in en suite rooms wherever possible.
  • Door to door baggage transfers.
  • A detailed info pack, route notes and map guide.
  • (9 Night itinerary only) Transfer from Clonegal to Bunclody.
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of any issues.

Excluded

  • Travel to the start or from the finish of the walk.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal Equipment.
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage.

Extras

  • Single Room Supplement.
  • Extra nights before, after or during your walk.
  • Transfer from Dublin city centre to Marlay Park.

Planning a long distance walking trip can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.

How fit do I need to be?

Our itineraries are graded moderate and are suitable for regular walkers. Most days offer between 6—8 hours of walking on good terrain which may include forest tracks, board walks and minor roads. The Way does not go any higher than 630m, so it is comparatively low-level, however is undulating. Overall, around 25% of the Wicklow Way consists of road walking, but in the southernmost section (past Tinahely) this rises to around 63%.

What about navigation?  

This route is well way-marked and much of it does follows a path. It is always advisable that you are know how to navigate with a map and compass although the Way is largely very straightforward to follow, especially with the map book and guidebook we provide. Our guide book follows the path in a north-south direction.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Wicklow Way is extremely popular especially over July/August. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans. 

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. 

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between late March and October offers a wonderful experience. 

Am I able to take my dog?

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.

Dogs

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers do not accept pets.

Availability

This walking holiday is best enjoyed between mid-March and mid-October. You can start on any date that suits your travel plans and you will find up to date availability on our website. The Wicklow Way is popular so it is best to book as far in advance as you are able to.

 

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
macs adventureThe Wicklow Way
 
4.4

(based on 7 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fun (7)
  • Great accommodations (6)
  • Well organised (5)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Holiday (7)
  • Trying something new (4)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Occasional traveller (4)

Reviewed by 7 customers

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

A great mountains, valleys, lochs (loughs?), forests escape!

By Glad not be to chained to the desk!

from Yorkshire

About Me Occasional Traveller

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Fun
  • Great Accommodations
  • Well Organised

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Holiday
    • Relaxation

    Comments about macs adventure The Wicklow Way:

    Ireland has mixed weather, though i was lucky with mostly sunny days. Even when it was wet i thoroughly enjoyed myself, and B&B mean you can always get dry at end of the day. Scenery was mountains, valleys, lochs, (lough's in Irish spelling), farms, cows, deers, sheep, horses, a peacock. The walking was challenging and sometimes I would be looking down as i ploughed on, and when eventually looking up, I repeatedly suddenly stopped, so beautiful were the views! It's a quiet walk on the trail, not like teh Camino De Santiago final stage say, and there are not cafe's and pubs (one or two only, apart from B&B where there is always a pub nearby) during the walking day, but that is nice in itself (although I wouldn't say the Camino suffers for this, it is all v tasteful and not overly commercial). You meet really nice folks from Europe and America/Canada - you can do this walk South to North to end up in Dublin, leaving the hardest walking till last, or the traditional North to South as I did, and because of that you occasionally cross people on the route heading the other way, which is always good since you can share experiences and tips. The way itself is extremely well marked, I think there was just one junction that wasn't marked, which ended in a dead end 10 mins later, so quickly got back on track. The accommodation is typically off route too, and can be tricky what with weddings and such in the summer time, especially on weekends - some B&B will negotiate to allow you to camp in their fields/gardens in these situations. The people are very friendly, the Guiness is excellent. You pass the house (from a hawkish height, not actually pass their front door) where the Guiness family live, in the most stunning location.
    The walk is challenging, you need proper hiking boots for going up and down the mountain shoulders/ off route peaks. Walking poles help when descending, especially if descending wet stones, but I didn't have these so just took it slow and carefully! Great!

     
    4.0

    Wicklow Way Walk

    By Empat Jalans

    from Exeter

    About Me Occasional Traveller

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Fun

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Holiday

      Comments about macs adventure The Wicklow Way:

      We all enjoyed ourselves but were fortunate to have nice dry weather every day.

       
      5.0

      The Wicklow Way with Mac's Adventures!

      By Poppy and Yogi

      from Kentucky

      About Me Avid Adventurer, Hiker and backpacker, Occasional Traveller, World Traveller

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Fun
      • Great Accommodations
      • Great reputation-well earned!
      • Met lovely people hiking and at the B&B's
      • Well Organised

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Holiday
        • Love nature
        • Trying Something New

        Comments about macs adventure The Wicklow Way:

        The overall adventure was well organized and well worth the price. The maps provided were excellent and there was no need for a guide. The luggage service was efficient and our luggage was always waiting for us. The B&B's were just perfect for this kind of trip. The hosts were friendly and readily shared their homes, hospitality and experiences.
        Mac's Adventures was well respected by the B&B owners.
        I would choose Mac Adventures again.

         
        5.0

        Wicklow Way

        By Lisa

        from California

        About Me Occasional Traveller

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Fun
        • Great Accommodations
        • Well Organised

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Holiday
          • Relaxation
          • Trying Something New

          Comments about macs adventure The Wicklow Way:

          This is my second time using Macs Adventures and I am still thrilled with the services of the team and the experience itself. I will be returning!
          Thanks!

           
          4.0

          8 days of wonder on the Wicklow Way

          By Finna's mom

          from Vancouver B.C.

          About Me First-time Walking Vacay, Frequent Traveller

          Pros

          • Always Something New
          • Fun
          • Great Accommodations
          • Terrific Hosts
          • Well Organised

          Cons

          • Extensive Forestry

          Best Uses

          • Holiday
          • Kickstart Fitness Plan
          • Trying Something New

          Comments about macs adventure The Wicklow Way:

          There's lots of variation in this walk, from (literally) a stroll through a city park (the beginning of the Wicklow Way) to some rock scrambling in new parts of the Way. This makes for a consistently interesting and fun experience.

          Little known or talked about? there's a LOT of logging that goes on in these hills, and sometimes (approx 15% total distance) the Way serves as roads for forestry trucks. Two of seven walking days were through heavily forested areas -- neither attractive nor good walking.

          The spectacular parts of the Way make up for this, but it's a definite 'con'.

          Comfy beds, delightful hosts (from world class to Fawlty Towers, so fun), and evidence of the utmost care in planning made for an excellent vacation.

          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Beautiful season

          By Satoru

          from Sapporo

          Pros

          • Fun
          • Great Accommodations

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Holiday

            Comments about macs adventure The Wicklow Way:

            B&Bs were comfortable and friendly people, especially, Tinahely 's was amazing!

            (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Wet weather, warm hospitality

            By Don Braulio

            from Virginia, USA

            About Me World Traveller

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Fun
            • Great Accommodations
            • Once in a Lifetime Experience
            • Well Organised

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Holiday
              • Trying Something New

              Comments about macs adventure The Wicklow Way:

              The only reason I did not give this 5 stars was that we went too late in the year. I would not recommend this walk after the middle of September. Also due to forest harvesting, the walk was rerouted outside of Glendalough, adding significantly to the difficulty and length of that day, although it did afford us an amazing view down the length of the valley with the Round Tower at the apex. We walked some 9 hours, and given the shortening days just limped in to our B&B at the last light of day. Luckily due to the accuracy of the map provided I saw how we could leave the trail and save about 1 KM by a shortcut to the lodgings.
              The Lodgings. Ah, the lodgings. Madge at Sunnidale House and her daughter Sinead are both amazing cooks. Due to the bad weather on day one and our jet lag, we sat out the first day walk. After 2 days of their food (we also had dinner both nights) I had to waddle away regretfully on day 3. The Glenmalure Lodge was a good basic walker's lodge. Good pub grub, good prices and friendly staff.
              Ingrid at Glendalough was also a warm and very skilled host. We soon felt like family.
              Paddy and Nancy O'Brien were our next hosts in Roundwood. I was shivering a bit as my clothes were soaked through from rain and sweat, and in minutes he had a cozy fire in his woodburning stove. I sat with my boots off, feet drying by the fire with a warm cup of tea as Paddy explained the rules of Irish Hurling as we watched the All Irish National Championships. Paddy is a "Galway Man", but despite our best efforts, Kilkenny defeated Galway. I must return next year and try again.
              Our final day was challenging as we were tired, but the directions and map were again spot on. The view of Powerscourt waterfall was worth a hard day's slog. The last night B&B was quite nice, our hostess at Coolakey House just having won an award for the best B&B in that region, and she proudly displayed her well-earned crystal Waterford vase.
              So in summary: NOT the easy ramble we had anticipated, but lodgings more than compensated. We continue to be huge fans of Mac's Adventures, and look forward to our next adventure soon.

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