A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
Many changes have taken place in the Irish walking world that we first experienced in 1990 – but by then the Wicklow Way itself had already undergone a number of additions and realignments to a route first devised by J.B. Malone in 1966. Unchanged is the appeal of this challenge and the beautiful countryside itself, a green panorama of hills and plains, forests and villages. It was my first experience with walking in Ireland and it was a memorable time, as the journal entries that follow should demonstrate. Indeed, I drew heavily on our time here in the writing of my A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the Long-distance Footpaths of Great Britain – published in 2010 and available from the publisher at www.authorhouse.co.uk or from www.authorhouse.com or from www.amazon.co.uk or from www.amazon.com.
From Dublin’s Marley Park to Clonegal is a 127 kilometers (some 79 miles or so). This does not explain why we walked close to 100 miles in completing our own adventures here – but we frequently had to go off route to find places of rest. We booked all of our own accommodation and it is still possible to do this – with the assistance of the Way’s official website: www.wicklowway.com. Here it is also easy to see that today the route is supported by travel companies who will do your booking for you and ferry your bags as well – I wish we had enjoyed the luxury of such assistance on our trip. I have noted that the youth hostel we used at Aughavannagh (to give it an alternate spelling) is now closed. There is a guidebook in the Rucksack Reader series; the Irish Ordnance Survey covers the path in sheets 50, 56 and 62.
One final thought, also indicative of change. The Wicklow Way can now be considered just the opening stage in The Irish Coast to Coast Walk, which takes you from Dublin to Bray Head by knitting together the WW with The South Leinster Way, the East Munster Way, the Blackwater Way and portions of the Kerry Way – with the entire adventure described by Paddy Dillon in his Cicerone Guide. With the exception of the Kerry Way’s encounters with the dramatic Iveragh Peninsula it would be hard to imagine, however, that any of the route could rival the drama and variety of the Wicklow Way. If you do choose this route you can always let me know how you got on by leaving a note on the Contact Page.
Our stages were:
Day 1A: Dublin to Marley Park Hotel – 2 miles
(This stage was just to get us into position for the full walking days that followed)
Day 2: Knockree Youth Hostel to Roundwood – 18 miles
Day 3: Roundwood to Glendalough – 9 miles
Day 5: Aghavannagh Youth Hostel to Tinahely – 17 miles
Day 6: Tinahely to Shillelagh – 10 miles
Day 7: Shillelagh to Clonegal – 13 miles