In the second of our weekly series documenting Adventure Travel’s favourite 100 hikes worldwide (first appearing in our 2012 special celebratory edition of Adventure Travel which marked its 100th issue), we look at Ireland’s wonderful Wicklow Way…
Wicklow Way is extremely accessible, starting in Marlay Park in South Dublin, just a short bus ride from the city centre. But despite being so near the country’s capital is goes through miles of unspoilt scenery in County Wicklow and then County Carlow, with the first couple of days on low-level terrain before reaching the mountains. At about 80 miles long you can do it with just a week off work too – many people complete the whole trail in about seven days.
The route takes you along forest tracks, mountain paths and quiet country roads and highlights include upland lakes, stunning steep-sided glacial valleys and plenty of panoramic views. You’ll even get views of Ireland’s highest waterfall, Powerscout, and a chance to traverse through Glenmalure, Ireland’s longest glacial valley. While the elevation may seem minimal, it’s important not to understimate the Wicklow Way – as they paths may not be steep, the distances can be long and tiring! You will still need a decent level of fitness to complete the entire trail.
Although people typically walk the Wicklow Way in the north to south direction (starting in Marlay Park), it is also possible to complete it the opposite way, starting in the village of Clonegal. Doing so will also mean you encounter some of the walk’s most impressive scenery towards the end.
It’s worth researching your accomodation in advance, as you may need to book and many of the options are not directly on the Wicklow Way. You can usually arrange for your accommodation provider to pick you up at the end of each day, and luggage transfers from one place to the other can also be arranged, all of which can be organised in advance.
Last week saw the first instalment of the world’s greatest hikes series with a look at the South Downs Way. Check it out here.