Tinahely is a small Wicklow village, nestled in the Derry River Valley with over 40 km of developed walking trail and beautiful greenery.
Recommended by Kieran O’Toole
Why I love this place:
The Tinahely Loop is a sturdy 25 kilometres of pure walking heaven, developed through local Tinahely Community Projects. The hills of Tinahely change with the seasons, forming dark hues, almost purple in colour, infused with a deep sense of calm serenity.
One of the great things about Tinahely’s walking trails is the scope for variety in the routes you can take. The different trails change in levels of difficulty, offering a walking experience for those of all athletic abilities.
The Tinahely Loop is about 25 km, taking in parts of the Railway Walk, the Wicklow Way, segued with exhilarating slices of the Muskeagh walking trail.
You can begin the loop in the Tinahely village itself, basking in village life experience by visiting the many small cafes and pubs centred around the village focal point, Dwyer Square, such as the Wagon Wheels pub or Seaver’s Bar.
I personally live in Fairwood, with the Railway Walk stretching out in front of me, and I generally begin my walk from the Railway Walk Carpark.
This first stretch of walk begins through maturing conifers, with the Derry River flowing beside the pathway and following part of the old Shillelagh to Woodenbridge Railway line.
Walking through this countryside is merely a gentle warm-up for the climb ahead. Upon reaching the Togher Bridge, I followed the line for about 1 km, passing through the Coillte Nursery and Garyhoe; travelling a short distance on some open road to reach the Ballycumber Looped Walk and Wicklow Way.
The view from Garyhoe Lane takes in Croghan Mountain on the Wicklow/Wexford border, but it’s the heights around Ballycumber sweeping toward Mangan’s, where for me, the landscape around Tinahely really reveals itself. The rolling plains dotted with hills are quietly beautiful.
You will reach the tranquillity of Ballycumber Ford before making your way to Bridgeland to tackle the next major ascent from the Wicklow Way to Muskeagh Hill.
Atop Muskeagh Hill, you can just make out Lugnaquilla, and the sprawling view takes in parts of counties Carlow, Wexford and Laois.
Upon reaching Curravanish Ford, which can be quite busy, the R747 looms into view, which will lead you to the much more peaceful Cuckoo Lane. Here, we are still on the Wicklow Way, but I find that winding my way along Muskeagh Boreen to Muskeagh Hill is one of the most delightful parts of the walk.
The trail here shows mountain goats and sheep, grazing and relaxing along the hillside. The further you walk, more animals come into view, such as peacocks and even a pair of llamas.
Majestic beech and chestnut trees adorn this path, and centred on the hillside, Wicklow and Carlow lay spread below. Once I reach the top of Muskeagh Hill, I normally stop to eat lunch, as the trail can be quite steep before this.
As I walk down through Hadden’s hill, Tinahely begins to form on my left with Tommnafinnogue Wood in my centre vision, and Shillelagh countryside on my right.
The roadway at Ballyshonogue appears behind the old kissing gates, the stretch of road that will take me back into the village of Tinahely itself. Traffic along this R749 approaches quickly from both directions and can be more than a little nerve wracking. There is some relief ahead, with the footpath leading to the village.
Through Coolruss, down Barton Street and you will finally be back in town.
The Buttercup Cafe in the centre of the village – perfect for a post-hike cup of tea and homemade cake!
Tinahely has a fantastic choice of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Accommodation for all budgets is also available, and full details of what Tinahely has to offer can be found on the Tinahely website. The website also includes more information on other walking trails in Tinahely, not just the Tinahely Loops.
With an ascent of about 350 m and a distance of 25 km, the estimated time to complete the Loop is five to six hours. The grade can be strenuous, and I recommend good trekking shows, rain gear for unpredictable weather, water and a snack, and a mobile phone with GPS. The walk is mixed surface and more suitable for an experienced walker or hiker. More detailed route guides and maps are also available on tinahely.ie
For information on the group who upkeeps these trails, search Tinahely Community Projects on Facebook.