The name Wicklow comes from the Viking "Wykynlo" or "Viking's Loch" referring to the town of Wicklow, one of their favourite bases on the Irish coast. The Gaelic "Cill Mhantain" translates to the "Church of St. Mantan". From the border with county Dublin, the mountains cover the middle and west of the county, running south to the Wexford border. The highest point is Lugnaquilla at 926m. Rounded during the last Ice Age, the hills are smooth with granite bases and shiny schists poking through, to give them a wonderful silvery light. The Ice Age also produced wonderful deep valleys - Glenmacanass, Glenmalure, Glendalough, which run northwest to southeast, providing not only wonderful views but also plenty of legwork! Your tour starts outside Tinahely in south Wicklow and finishes at Enniskerry in the north. We have chosen the nicest sections of the route as well as great locations for each overnight stay. This area is famous for its old estates, romantic wooded valleys and stories of rebels. You will also have a chance to meet local people in the villages, where you are staying.
Day 1: Bunclody
Arrival to Dublin airport. AirLink bus to Busarus, central bus station in Dublin city. Bus Eireann regional service to Bunclody in north Co. Wexford. Bunclody is a pretty town on the banks of the river Slaney.
Day 2: Bunclody - Clonegal - Shillelagh
Your host will transfer you to Clonegal, the start of the Wicklow Way; walking is on country roads through Newry forest, Moilishe and Stookeen Hill, into the town land of Mungaculin. Your accommodation for the night will be in the 17th century village of Shillelagh origin of the Irish walking stick cut from the blackthorn tree, "The Shillelagh". Overnight at Strankelly on the Way, near Shillelagh village.
Walking: 23 km / 6 hours, + 120 m
Day 3: Shillelagh - Moyne
From Stranakelly, return to country roads past the market town of Tinahely. The Christianising of the area is associated with St. Finian from Co. Westmeath and you will pass his church. Tinahely on the banks of the river Derry was destroyed in the 1798 rebellion, subsequently rebuilt and found a new lease of life with the coming of the railway in 1865. This section of the Wicklow Way takes in some fantastic views back over the area that you have passed through, and the adjacent counties of Carlow and Wexford; it also passes through an old Ring Fort or Fairy Fort. Overnight in Moyne or nearby Aughrim (transfer provided). Evening meals will be available in your guesthouse tonight (payment on spot)
Walking: 18 km / 5 hours, + 100 m
Optional climb of Ballycumber Hill The Ballincumber route offers excellent views and a challenging climb: 20 km / 6 hours, + 400 m (total with the main route)
Day 4: Moyne - Drumgoff (Glenmalure). Optional route over Croaghanmoira Hill
Good climbing today through the pine forests of the Ow Valley. Drumgoff at the head of the picturesque Glenmalure Valley, provides a refreshing end to the day at the old coaching inn, Glenmalure Lodge. The area is renowned for its rebels and heroes during the 16th and 18th century Irish uprisings.
Walking: 21 km / 6 hours, + 500 m
The optional route over Croaghanmoira climbs to 664 m and affords glorious views of the Ow and Avonbeg river valleys. 21 km / 6 hours, + 850 m
Day 5: Drumgoff - Laragh. Optional descent via the Spink
Superb views, superb walking, superb 6th century monastic remains at Glendalough; today is one of the tour's highlights. Climbing through forest from Drumgoff, the Way opens to the flat saddle of Mullacor at 550m before crossing open moorland to the slopes of Derrybawn Mountain. The first view of Glendalough (An Gleann Dha Locha, the glen of the two lakes) is wonderful, deep wooded sides and the Glenalo River flowing through. From the valley, a short climb takes you northeast and then down the Glenmacnass Valley to Laragh village. An optional descent takes you to the cliffs above the lakes to descend through the wooded valley to rejoin the Wicklow Way at the Visitor Centre. Overnight in the village of Laragh.
Walking: 18 km / 6 hours, + 530 m
Optional route via the Spink: 20 km / 7 hours, + 600 m
Day 6: Laragh - Roundwood. Optional route via Scarr Mountain
A short day allows time to visit the monastic remains and Visitor Centre at Glendalough. The valley was also home to extensive mining of lead, copper and zinc during the 19th century. The Way climbs the gentle flank of Paddock Hill, descending to Oldbridge, the Avonmore River and the beautiful Lough Dan. An optional route on Scarr Mountain offers wonderful views of this lake. Today's section finishes in Roundwood, supposedly Ireland's highest village at 238 m. Overnight in the village of Roundwood.
Walking: 11 km / 3 hours, +290m
Optional route via Scarr Mountain: 15 km / 5 hours, + 520 m
Day 7: Roundwood - Glencree / Enniskerry
Wonderful walking; overlooking Lough Tay, Lough Dan and Luggala Estate of the Guinness Family. A raised path covers a long stretch of open moorland to the saddle between White Hill and Djouce Mountain. From here it is possible to see the coast as far as Howth Head in north Co. Dublin. Descending past the 120m fall of Powerscourt Waterfall, enter the peace of the Glencree River Valley and a lovely riverbank walk. Overnight near the village of Enniskerry.
Walking: 18 km / 5 hours, + 510 m
Day 8: Departure from Enniskerry
Your tour ends after breakfast
Practical information: ►Wicklow Way opened in 1981 and is a pleasure to walk, well signposted, with rougher sections of the track graded to prevent erosion. The central section is covered by the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The route follows on occasion the Military Road, constructed by the British in the early 19th century. The route doesn't pass through many towns or villages, so most of the day-to-day walking is remote. Approximately 20% of the route is on tarred roads. We offer the Wicklow Way from south to north. ►You will be staying in comfortable guesthouses and farmhouses, most rooms have en suite facilities. You can enjoy evening meals (18-25 EUR) in the guesthouses in some locations, but the hostess needs to be notified beforehand. Picnic lunches can be bought on spot (6-8 EUR per person) ►The most convenient airport for this tour is Dublin. Go to Connolly Train Station in the city center in order to take a train to Busarus and then a bus to Bunclody. At the end of the tour you can take the bus from Enniskery to Dublin and then AirLink Coach Service from Dublin center to the airport. Check the timetables here. Train journeys can be seen on www.irishrail.ie
Recommended travel period of the year: May - September
Nessesary equipment: waterproof hiking boots and walking socks (with a change of socks in rucksack), small rucksack/day pack, 1 x water bottle with 1 litre capacity, insect repellent, sun glasses, sun hat, sun block/cream, compass, torch, first-aid kit, waterproof jacket and trousers