Ireland is pocked with landscapes of all varieties, from mountains, to valleys, and mounds. In Wicklow County is one such area of spectacle. While it is very near to the capital city of Dublin, there are miles and miles of unspoiled mountain trails. The Wicklow Way is the most popular of these and for good reason. Of the trails that have been recognized as national treasures, Wicklow was the first in 1980.
Throughout the island nation, there is a vast network of walking trails that are both long-distance as well as self-guided. The Wicklow Way is perhaps one of the most popular of these walking trails due to its accessibility, not to mention the vast array of picturesque experiences, many of which are in distinctly remote mountainous areas. In addition to the mountains, lakes, and streams, you’ll see valleys cut from ages-past glaciers, densely-packed forests, and farmland. This “way-marked” trail is the most western route along the E8 Foot Path and extends through the majority of the European continent.
Beginning in Rathfarnham, Wicklow Way traverses to the south-south-west through the uplands of Wicklow, the rolling hills of the southern portion of County Wicklow, all the way to Clonegal nearly 250 miles away.
On the trail you’ll encounter parks in suburban areas, trails through forests, wild and untouched highland landscapes, and the rolling hills for which Ireland is so famous. For a trekker of an average fitness level, the entire trail takes approximately eight to ten days to traverse entirely. Along your journey you’ll encounter lakes encased by mountain peaks, ruins of various buildings that are reminders of human habitations throughout Ireland’s storied past, memorials of events that occurred centuries ago, and even what remains of a monastic community that once resided in Glendalough Valley. The sheer number of sites to see is incredible.
It is necessary to mention, however, that being in good physical shape for a walk along a trail such as the Wicklow Way is imperative. It is a good idea to read the advice given by previous trekkers as you plan your hike. If you’re not in the best physical shape, endurance training is a suggestion, as well, as the experience will be much more enjoyable. And don’t forget to bring your camera, because the photo opportunities are extensive!