Wonderful Wicklow Walks: OSi’s Top Picks
As the days get longer and milder, we’ve picked five of our favourite Wicklow walking routes that range in difficulty, from easy for beginners to hard for more experienced walkers
To make things as easy as possible for you on your day out, we’ve included information on distance, duration and even parking availability so you can spend more time walking and less time researching.
The Sugar Loaf is perhaps one of the most well-known mountains in the country and definitely one of the most accessible in terms of walking routes.
Starting at the purpose built car park, located just off the L1031 at the foot of the mountain, the trek to the summit starts off as a relatively straight forward walk.
It’s near the top however, that some balancing with the hands and feet is needed to scale the turn just before the summit. Some less experienced climbers may need to turn back before they reach the top.
The Sugar Loaf is the perfect hike for ramblers who want to be able to get a good walk in, without taking up the whole day. On a clear day, there are panoramic views of the Irish Sea, Dublin City and the Wicklow Mountains on offer from the summit. Caution needs to be taken on windy days as there is virtually no shelter from the elements on the Sugar Loaf.
If you’re not driving, you can get to the Sugar Loaf from the village of Kilmacanogue which is well served by the Dublin Bus Route 145. Be sure to check timetables before you set off.
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
Type: Up and Back
Distance: 2.70 KM
Duration: 1 hr 30 mins
Start location: Sugar Loaf Car Park
End location: Same as start point
Parking: Sugar Loaf car park off the L1031
Co-ordinates: 53.144701 -6.154530
Never has a walk been more picturesque and so accessible at the same time. People all over the world hike for thousands of metres to get the kind of beautiful coastline views that can be witnessed on the cliff walk between Bray and Greystones.
Starting near Bray DART Station Car Park, the windy, but relatively flat walk, continues on for 6KM with only occasional small inclines.
Once you get to Greystones you can enjoy the vibrant village and try out some of the popular lunch spots such as the Happy Pear that have been bustling in recent years.
Should you overdo it on the culinary delights on offer in Greystones, you don’t have to walk back to Bray. The option to relax and take the DART back to Bray is always there.
Type: Non Loop
Duration: 2 hours
Start location: The Bray Head Inn / The Strand Road
End Location: Greystones Village
Parking: Bray Dart Station
Co-ordinates: 53.207710 -6.100942
Glendalough is a paradise for any walking enthusiast. It’s also the closet thing Leinster has to Yellowstone Park, with busloads of tourists arriving all year round to see the glacial valley and learn about the Early Medieval monastic settlement.
From the nine popular walking routes that Glendalough has to offer, we recommend the Derrybawn Woodland Trail. Marked as ‘the Orange Route’ on Glendalough literature, this trail starts with a steep incline and brings walkers near the Poulanass Waterfall.
From here, the next waypoint touches on the Derrybawn Mountain, where a constant border of larch and pine trees accompanies ramblers on their journey.
This route is slightly longer than some of the other paths at Glendalough, but it gives one of the best all-encompassing views of the Glendalough Valley. Be sure to keep an eye out for the native red squirrel on your travels.
Start location: Glendalough Research Centre
Parking: Glendalough Visitor Centre
Co-ordinates: 53.012625 -6.329883
The brilliant thing about Glendalough is that there are more than nine walking routes to choose from, meaning you could visit every weekend for a month and still have four or five trails left to discover.
One of the most popular walks in Glendalough, the trail to the Spinc delivers some of the most picturesque scenery that Ireland has to offer.
A steep and challenging start brings walkers by the Poulanass waterfall before joining a testing narrow boardwalk that continues to ascend through bog land.
The boardwalk offers walkers a view of the upper lake before it descends into the Glenealo valley.
As it’s a loop circuit, some people like to do the route in reverse and leave the longer part of the boardwalk until the end. As some walking enthusiasts might agree, it’s not always fun to start a hike navigating 600 wooden boards up a hill.
Start location: Glendalough Lower Lake Carpark
Parking: Glendalough Upper Lake Carpark
Co-ordinates: 53.012625 -6.329883
For those looking to cross the Wicklow Way off their bucket lists, and are willing to take on a sizeable chunk of the entire 130KM route in one day, Stage 1 from Marlay Park to Knockree will certainly do the trick. Starting in the park grounds, before following the Little Dargle River, Stage 1 leads towards Kilmashogue Mountain and Two Rock Mountain.
The route descends into a ridge near Tibradden Mountain and into the valley of Glencullen. When it reaches Prince William’s Seat Mountain the trail has officially left Co. Dublin.
Note that a lot of people doing the Wicklow way plan to stop in hostels or other accommodation between the stages. Stage 1 allows you to breakaway without full commitment to the entire route, if planned correctly.
For those not looking to backtrack by foot, head to Kilmacanogue village for the 45a bus. You can also start your journey with a bus to Marlay Park from Dublin City Centre.
Be sure to keep this walk in mind during the summer months. When there’s a concert on in the park, you can setup some amazing views of the festival from the surrounding hill walks. You can even hear a few notes coming from the mainstage as you set off on Stage 1.
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
Type: Point to point
Duration: 7 hrs
Start location: Marlay Park
End location: Knockree, Near Kilmacanogue
Parking: Marlay Park Car Park
Co-ordinates: 53.270696 -6.266034
Whatever your level of experience, make sure that you know how to stay safe. Read our Safety in the Outdoors tips before you head off on your next walk.
County Wicklow has also been mapped at the new, more detailed scale of 1:25,000 as part of the Adventure Series and they can be bought online also.