Famous for the stunning scenery of its daunting inland mountain range and its pretty coastline, County Wicklowis just a stone’s throw from Dublin, making it popular with both tourists and the inhabitants of Ireland’s capital. Magnificent monastic ruins, handsome mansion houses and glorious gardens abound along the WicklowWay, the country’s most popular walking trail. Given its proximity to Dublin, you can be exploring the county’s many delights quickly and easily by car or through a combination of public transport and walking boots.
Stretching more than 80 miles from Dublin’s southern suburbs to Clonegal in County Carlow, the WicklowWay takes in nature trails, old bog roads and disused military supply lines. Typically, it can be completed in five to seven days, with up to 24,000 people walking the most popular sections every year.
A Landscape Full of DramaAs you leave Dublin for County Wicklow, affectionately known as the “Garden of Ireland”, the landscape changes dramatically. The journey south crosses moors, bogs and mountains splashed with lakes. The desolate, wild peaks mix with deep glacial valleys to produce an unforgettable landscape.
The most remote parts of the mountains and surrounding wilderness can be explored via the Military Road. The best place to join it is at Glencree, allowing you to head south through the Sally Gap, the Glenmacness Valley, famous for its waterfall, Laragh, the Glenmalure Valley and Aghavannagh.
Glendalough, or the Valley of the Two Lakes, features prominently on most people’s must-see lists. Home to an important monastic settlement as well as two dark lakes surrounded by forest, it is one of the most beautiful, romantic locations in the whole of Ireland.
On the CoastCounty Wicklow’s coastline plays second fiddle to its dramatic inland attractions but there is plenty to explore when you fancy a breath of bracing sea air.
Keen to maintain its own identity from Dublin, the resort of Bray has a fine stretch of sand and a great coastal walking route to Greystones, which has a charming seafront centred around an idyllic harbour. The town of Wicklow, set on the curve of a bay stretching for more than seven miles, is also home to an impressive harbour.
See and DoCounty Wicklow is full of attractions steeped in history. One of the most notable, Wicklow’s infamous jail, opened in 1702 to deal with prisoners held captive under the repressive anti-Catholic penal laws of the time. It was renowned throughout Ireland for its harsh living conditions and the brutal guards who patrolled its bleak corridors.
Spectacular Russborough House, one of the country’s finest stately homes, can be found at Blessingtonwhile the “uncrowned king of Ireland”, nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell, was born in Avondale House, the heart of a magnificent 500-acre estate.
Surrounding the ruins of a Queen Anne house, the 52-acre National Botanic Gardens are located in Kilmacurragh while the Powerscourt Estate, which gives a real insight into the lives of 18th century Ireland’s wealthiest citizens, is on the doorstep of the handsome village of Enniskerry.