SE MERE HERUNDER
I've hiked in Scotland and the Faroe Islands before, and that's where I've had my best hiking experiences, so it was a no-brainer for me to say yes when I was given the opportunity to try the Wicklow Way in Ireland. I love the slightly raw nature with the grey rocks, green ferns and the soft moss that grows on almost every rock you pass - and combined with the sometimes changeable weather, I just think there is a very special atmosphere in these countries that you don't find in the same way under the southern sun. I can recommend the Wicklow Way to those who already have a penchant for the "colder" countries, where a rain shower or five doesn't mean much, and to those who love beautiful views, hospitable people and a country rich in culture and history.
By the way, I walked the Wicklow Way as a (female) solo traveller and it was absolutely amazing. At no point did I feel unsafe or nervous. Everyone I met was incredibly nice and it was easy to find my way.
I fly with SAS direct from Copenhagen to Dublin. When I arrive at the airports, my transfer is waiting for me in the arrivals hall, he has a sign with my name on it so it's super easy. He drives me to Tinahely (a journey of about an hour and a half) where I have my first night at Madelines Accommodation. The day before, I had received a text message with a code for the keypad that was on both the front door and the door to my room. Check in was therefore super easy. In Tinahely it is possible to buy snacks and lunch for the tour. It's not possible to buy lunch on the routes themselves and it will be a few days before I arrive in a town with shopping facilities again, so it's important to buy enough in Tinahely.
17km - 485m up and 416m down
I'd arranged for my transfer to pick me up at 8am so I could get an early start on my hike. However, this also meant that I wouldn't have time for breakfast. So I make a peanut butter sandwich - the same thing my lunch will consist of. My transfer takes me to The Dying Cow pub a short distance from Tinahely - this is where my first day on the Wicklow Way starts!
The ride is a mixture of tarmac and gravel paths, taking me through beautiful, idyllic Irish landscapes filled with ferns, stone fences and green hills with sheep grazing in the sun.
I spend the night at Kyle Farmhouse and in the evening I was driven back to Tinahely for dinner.
24km - 774m up and 874m down
Day 2 was relatively quiet and easy, which was good for getting the legs going. Today, however, things start to pick up and the route offers three peaks/climbs in my elevation profile, which I can track on my app. However, the climb also means that I start to get some more great views than I had on Day 2. However, much of the day also takes place in the shade of large conifers as I walk through green forests with moss on the rocks and small streams that set the soundtrack for the day's walk.
The last part of the walk was particularly special as I passed through a forest so beautiful and fairytale-like that it wasn't hard to understand why Ireland has so many stories about fairies and other magical creatures. The final stretch is a steep descent towards Glenmalure, where I can see my accommodation in the distance - so close, yet so far away. The last stretch is a bit hard on one of my knees, so I'm glad when I arrive at Glenmalure Lodge, where I can get a drink in the sun. This is also where I'll be staying overnight until tomorrow. You're not allowed to drink the water at the hotel, but that's no problem because they're happy to provide free bottled water at reception.
17km - 582m up and 580m down
Day 4 is absolutely amazing, and in many ways probably my favourite hiking day of the trip. I start the walk directly where I left off at Glenmalure Lodge. I have one big climb today before heading down towards Glendalough and then up again before finishing at the small town of Laragh. The route is steep right from the start, and I can feel that I've already walked quite a few kilometres the days before. Like the other days, there is also a lot of walking through forest, but every now and then the path opens up between the trees and I catch a glimpse of the beautiful view of the mountains. As I approach Glendalough,
I take a slight detour and get a beautiful view of Glendalough Upper Lake - it's also on the shores of Upper Lake that I choose to enjoy my lunch - a peanut butter sandwich and a can of Coke Zero. It's so nice to sit there with my hiking boots off, the sun at my back and a view of the beautiful lake. Once I've finished my lunch, I continue along the popular trails towards the visitor centre and onwards again towards Laragh. Glendalough has more tourists than I've seen at any other time so far. There's a visitor centre, several cafes and a few shops selling souvenirs - I even stop and buy a small magnet with a sheep - you are in Ireland, after all.
After a short break in Glendalough, I continued towards Laragh. The last climb on Day 4, and what a climb it was! It was sweaty and my legs were sore, but the views of Upper and Lower Lake were worth it! The rest of the ride is through cosy forest before arriving in Laragh, where I'll be staying at Riverside B&B. Laragh is a nice little town with a great restaurant, a small shop and an outdoor shop where I buy some bug spray - a great tip from here if you're considering a trip to the Irish countryside. During the summer there can be a lot of flies and midges, so it's nice to have some spray.
10km - 425m up and 281m down
Day 5 is the shortest route of the whole trip at 10km. It's a great ride, but compared to the day before, it can seem a little less impressive. It's also the first day it rained - a bit impressive that I've walked so many days in a row without rain in Ireland. It's possible to extend the walk by going to the small town of Roundwood, but I choose to walk directly to my accommodation at Lough Dan Lodge. My legs are tired, so a quiet day is good for me. My room isn't ready when I arrive at around noon, as check-in doesn't actually start until 3pm, but I'm allowed to sit out in the sun that has broken through the clouds, eat my lunch and read my book. When I get up to my room, I realise that I've been lucky enough to get a room with a bathtub and I'm happy. It's just what my tired body needs! In the evening there is a transfer into Roundwood, where I have dinner and buy some snacks for the next few days.
20km - 598m up and 736m down
I start out with a transfer from Lough Dan Lodge to the start of the Wicklow Way, and here begins my Day 6 - supposedly the most beautiful stretch of the whole trip, and although Day 4 is still fresh in my mind, I have to admit that Day 6 comes close when it comes to beautiful views! After a couple of hours of walking, I reach the famous Lough Tay, which, with its dark water and white sandy beach at the top, is known to resemble a pint of Guinness - which is perhaps fitting considering that the land surrounding the lake is owned by the Guinness family itself. There are a few other tourists on this part of the route, but I don't have to go far from Lough Tay before the crowds thin out and I have much of the scenery to myself again. It's a beautiful day and I feel lucky. I also feel surprisingly fresh, maybe it's the hot tub the day before, but I decide to take a little detour to the top of Djouce Mountain, where I enjoy my lunch while looking out at the beautiful views.
After my trip to Djouce Mountain, it's a steep descent until I reach a nice little river that ends in Powerscourt waterfall. Here it starts to climb again, and I call my transfer to pick me up at Crone Wood - the programme says I have to do this when I reach Powerscout waterfall. An hour later I arrive at Crone Wood and my transfer arrives almost on time to take me to The Coolakay Guest House, where I'll spend the night. In the evening, I'm picked up by a transfer and driven to Enniskerry, where I have dinner with two nice people from Canada who are doing the same walk as me and whom I've met several times along the way.
22km - 435m up and 598m down
It's time for my final day on the Wicklow Way and for the first time on the walk I wake up to dark clouds in the sky, but it's okay, I've packed my rain jacket. I start the day with a transfer to Crone Wood, where I finished yesterday. It's a really nice walk, but there are several places where I have to pay attention to where I put my feet in the rain. I can sense the great views on the horizon, but the clouds are dense and hanging low, so unfortunately they also take away some of my view. It ends up being a wet day, but that's okay, I'm high on finishing soon, so spirits are high even though my legs are tired and wet.
When I arrive at Marley Park, I decide to go into a small cafe where I take my first and only break of the day - it's much needed and nice to sit there with my food and know that I made it - I finished! I try to find the start of the Wicklow Way, which is marked with a nice sign. Unfortunately, there has been a concert the night before, so I can't get to the sign. However, I quickly find my bus to Dublin and the Harrington Hall hotel, and as I sit there looking out over Dublin, the sun comes out again and the sky turns blue.
You can take both a bus and a taxi to the airport, it's super easy and doesn't take very long. I fly direct from Dublin to Copenhagen with SAS. If you can, I would recommend extending your stay in Dublin by a day or two. It's an exciting city and you don't have time to do much when you arrive on your last day of walking. I started walking around 9am and arrived in Dublin around 16:30.
It's been an amazing trip and I've been incredibly lucky with the weather. I can only give my highest recommendation for the Wicklow Way and Ireland.
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