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Wicklow Way Walk: A Guide To The 7 Stages (+ Map)

Wicklow Way Walk: A Guide To The 7 Stages (+ Map)

The incredible Wicklow Way walk is a long-distance trail that starts in Dublin, takes you through Wicklow and then finishes in Carlow.

The trail, which stretches for nearly 130km, takes walkers to some of the best places to visit in Wicklow and it’s best tackled over 7 to 10 days

Now, unlike some of the shorter hikes in Wicklow, the Wicklow Way walk requires a good bit of planning in advance, if you plan on doing it in one go.

In the guide below, you’ll find everything you need to know about each stage of the walk and you’ll find a Wicklow Way map at the end, too.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Wicklow Way Walk

lough tay walk wicklow

Photo by Lukas Fendek/Shutterstock.com

The Wicklow Way trail isn’t overly straightforward, and adequate planning and preparation is required if you’re going to tackle it.

The guide below is intended to give you an overview of what to expect, but it’s no substitute for a solid map to follow along the way. Below, you’ll find some quick need to knows:

1. Where it starts and ends

Crossing the Wicklow Mountains, the Wicklow Way Walk is Ireland’s most scenic long-distance trail. This linear walk runs all the way from Dublin’s Marlay Park to the charming village of Clonegal in County Carlow.

2. Length

At around 130km in length, the Wicklow Way walk takes visitors on a 5-10 day journey through the Garden of Ireland aka County Wicklow.

3. Breaking it down

Now, you don’t have to do the entire trail all in one go, if you don’t have the time. You could easily tackle it over a few months by doing a couple of stages at a time.

4. What you’ll see on the way

Along the way, you will have an opportunity to discover some amazing scenery, including Guinness Lake (Lough Tay), Powerscourt Waterfall, and the beautiful monastic site of Glendalough.

5. The best time to do it

If you can, try and tackle the walk between April and September. The weather is generally better, the days are longer and the majority of the accommodation on the way will be running (some of it shuts during the off-season).

About the Wicklow Way Walk

 

Following the eastern side of the Wicklow Mountains, the Wicklow Way Walk is one of those trails that has it all. It is easily accessible, offers dramatic scenery, and has plenty of excellent accommodation options along the way.

This richly varied route consists of suburban parkland, quiet roads, picturesque forest trails, and scenic mountain paths. 

Wicklow Way Map

wicklow way map

Map via Sport Ireland

The Wicklow Way map above will give you an idea of the trail that you’ll be following if you give this route a bash.

As you can see, the 130km or so trail looks pretty daunting when seen it its entirety, bur when broken up into stages, it’s very doable. 

An overview of the different stages of the Wicklow Way trail

OK – now it’s time to dive into the trail. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each section of the trail from Stage 1 to Stage 7.

Remember, you can tackle these at your own pace. You’ll find accommodation options listed under each section, too. These are affiliate links – if you book a stay through them, we may make a small commission which we greatly appreciate.

Stage 1: Marlay Park to Knockree

wicklow way walk

Photo by Dux Croatorum (Shutterstock)

  • How long it takes: 21 km/7 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Strenuous
  • Arrows: Marked with yellow marker poles
  • Highest Point: 500m
  • Recommended accommodation: Knockree Hostel

The Wicklow Way Walk starts in the suburbs of Dublin in Marlay Park. The first section of this trail takes you all the way from Marlay Park to Knockree.

Once you leave the city, you’ll be making your way past the lovely Kilmashogue Forest, Fairy Castle (part of the Ticknock Walk) and Tibradden Mountain.

After 3 – 4 hours, you’ll start the climb to Prince Williams Seat. After enjoying magnificent views of the mountains and the coast, take the path down to the Enniskerry road and on to Knockree.

Stage 2: Knockree to Roundwood

lough tay walk wicklow

Photo by Lukas Fendek (Shutterstock)

  • How long it takes: 20 km, 7 hours
  • Difficulty Level:  Strenuous
  • Arrows: Marked with yellow marker poles
  • Highest Point: 630m
  • Where to stay: See Roundwood accommodation

Day two of the Wicklow Way trail is packed with scenery. The start of day 2 takes you around Knockree Hill (to the west) before descending and crossing the Glencree River.

This makes a nice little spot for a stop and a snack. Keep going until you reach the car park at Crone Woods. The next section is where comfy hiking boots come in handy. From the car park, you’ve a decent bit of hill to conquer.

However, you’ll be rewarded when you reach the top with views of the magnificent Powerscourt Waterfall. From here, you’ll keep rambling away until your reach the River Dargle. You’ve another incline to conquer here – the east side of Djouce Mountain!

If you have time (and energy…) the view from the summit of Djouce is worth the walk. After that, point your nose in the direction of White Hill. It’s from near here that you’ll begin your descent along the popular Ballinastoe Woods walk.

You’ll be treated to glorious views out over Lough Tay not long after. You’ve still a bit of way to go before reaching Roundwood, your base for night two.

Stage 3: Roundwood to Glendalough

wicklow way stage 3

Photo by Stefano_Valeri (Shutterstock)

  • How long it takes: 11 km, 3,5 hours
  • Difficulty Level:  Easy
  • Arrows: Marked with yellow marker poles
  • Highest Point: 360m
  • Where to stay: See Laragh accommodation

Day 3 is much shorter than day 1 and 2, and it stretches for around 11km in length. The beauty of the shorter trail is that you’ve time to veer off track and explore some of Wicklow (or you could always tackle one of the Glendalough walks).

After leaving Roundwood, aim for the village of Laragh. You can stay here on night 3 or you can head on towards Glendalough.

Over the course of day 3, you’ll cross Paddock Hill before descending towards the Glenmacnass Road (unfortunately it’s a bit away from Glenmacnass Waterfall, but you can take the detour, if you like!).

For those of you staying in Laragh, you’re a short walk from the village. If you’re planning on kipping in Glendalough, you’ll want to head through Brockagh Forest before heading on to Glendalough.

Stage 4: Glendalough to Glenmalure

Poulanass waterfall wicklow

Photo by Falk-Photo (Shutterstock)

  • How long it takes: 13 km/ 5 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Arrows: Marked with yellow marker poles
  • Highest Point: 560m
  • Where to stay: The Glenmalure Lodge

Day 4 is my favourite section of the Wicklow Way trail. When you leave your accommodation, head off into Glendalough.

Keep an eye out for the Visitors Centre. You’ll want to aim for here before walking up towards the bustling Poulnass Waterfall before continuing on to Lugduff Valley.

There’s a tough uphill walk from here but you’ll find plenty of space to stop and relax on the way. After you reach level ground, you’ll be treated to some glorious views of the Valley.

Keep on strolling away and you’ll eventually begin your descent into Glenmalure Valley. You’ll be treated to more magnificent views during this section. Keep on going until you reach the now-iconic Glenmalure Lodge.

Stage 5: Glenmalure to Moyne

  • How long it takes: 22 km, 7 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Strenuous
  • Arrows: Marked with yellow marker poles
  • Highest Point: 520
  • Where to stay: Moyne

Day 5 involves a good bit of walking (7+ hours), so try and get a decent bit of rest ahead of it. Day 5 kicks off with a walk through the woodland that sits on the lower slopes of Slieve Maan, before continuing on to the well-known Military Road.

After some time, you’ll meander your way up around Carrickashane. The trail then moves down to the Ox River Valley.

From here, you’ll continue across Ballyteigue Bridge before continuing on towards Moyne for the night.

Stage 6: Moyne to Shillelagh

wicklow way stage 6

Photo by by Pablesku (Shutterstock)

  • How long it takes: 22 km, 7,5 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Strenuous
  • Arrows: Marked with yellow marker poles
  • Highest Point: 480m
  • Where to stay: Shillelagh

You’ve another lengthy day ahead of you on day 6. After leaving Moyne, you’ll follow the trail around Ballycumber Hill, before hitting Hacketstown.

Keep going and you’ll reach the bottom of Muskeagh Hill. From here, point your nose in the direction of the Dying Cow (a handy spot for some R&R and a bite to eat).

When you’re ready to rock, continue on towards Raheenakit Woods before making your way to Shillelagh for the night.

Stage 7: Shillelagh to Clonegal

Mount Leinster drive

Photo by Semmick Photo (Shutterstock)

  • How long it takes: 20 km, 6 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Arrows: Marked with yellow marker poles
  • Highest Point: 350m

The final section and the last day of the Wicklow Way Walk starts at Shillelagh and takes you to Clonegal in Carlow.

On this stretch of the trail, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of Mount Leinster. The trail leaves Shilleagh and takes you along relatively easy paths via Raheenakit Woods and past Stokeen, Moylisha and the Ureland Hills.

If you’ve managed to conquer the entire trail, fair play to you! It’s time to tackle the Dingle Way, next!

FAQs about walking the Wicklow Way

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to get a Wicklow Way map to how long it takes to walk.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long does it take to walk the Wicklow Way?

Around 130km in length, the Wicklow Walk takes between 5 and 10 days to conquer, depending on pace.

Where does the Wicklow Way start and finish?

The Wicklow Way trail begins in Rathfarnham (Dublin) and it finishes in the little town of Clonega (Carlow).

Where should I stay along the Wicklow Way?

Picking your Wicklow Way accommodation will depend on 1, how long you’re going to allow yourself to tackle each stage and 2, which towns you plan on aiming for each night. See above for recommendations.

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