The countryside of Ireland is a patchwork of many different landscape types, including several mountainous and upland areas. One of the most spectacular of these is in county Wicklow, just south of Dublin, which despite its proximity to the capital contains many kilometres of wonderfully unspoilt mountain trails of which The Wicklow Way is the best known. In fact the Wicklow Way was the first such trail in Ireland having been formally established in 1980.
The Wicklow Way is now part of a network of long-distance self-guided walking trails, (also called 'way-marked ways'), throughout Ireland. The Wicklow Way combines easy accessibility with a wide variety of scenic experiences, some of them in truly remote upland areas. They include mountains, upland lakes, steep-sided glacial valleys, fast flowing mountain streams, forests and farmland. The Wicklow Way route is now the most westerly section of the E8 footpath which extends across much of Europe.
The Wicklow Way begins in Dublin's southern suburb of Rathfarnham and travels in a south-south-westerly direction across the Dublin and Wicklow uplands, then through the rolling hill country of southwest County Wicklow to finish in the small, County Carlow village of Clonegal 127 kilometres later.
A combination of suburban parkland, forest trails, wild and scenic mountain landscape and finally rolling countryside offers a wonderfully varied, 8 to 10 day experience for a hill-walker of average fitness. En route the Wicklow Way passes mountain lakes, ruined buildings -stark reminders of previous widespread human habitation- occasional memorials to historic events of past centuries and extensive remains of the early Christian monastic settlement in the beautiful Glendalough valley.
Anyone setting out to walk a long distance trail such as the Wicklow Way is embarking on a serious test of physical endurance. Our Walking Advice pages contain some useful safety tips and pointers and we strongly recommend that everyone considering embarking on this walk should spend a few moments to read them and incorporate them in their pre-hike planning.