Get the whole family out this weekend to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Garden of Ireland on one of these family-friendly walks.
The Garden of Ireland is home to Ireland’s biggest national park The Wicklow Mountains National Park. Wicklow also has a magnificent coastline, rich historical sights and some great nature reserves and forests. Naturally, there are so many beautiful walks in Wicklow with something to suit all abilities. This makes it the perfect county to bring the whole family for a day of hiking, or a quick stroll before the beach or simply for some incredible sightseeing. Here are 10 of the best family-friendly walks starting with the easiest and shortest. Some are even buggy friendly!
1. Kindlestown Woods Trail
This is a short 1km walk between Greystones and the N11. A track leads around Kindlestown Hill leading to a seating area where you will get the best views of the sea, Bray Head and Wicklow Head. The forest contains a variety of tree specimens from when it was the old Bellevue Estate. The wood is also an area of archaeological interest, as Kindlestown Hill is the location of a hill fort believed to date back to the Iron Age. The walk is a linear route and there is a carpark. This route is also accessible for buggies and wheelchairs.
2. Knocksink Wood
Knocksink Woods is a nature reserve and forest in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. The Glencullen River runs through it. It is a perfect walk to do with young children as it isn’t too long and there is a variety of wild animals and wildflowers to keep them entertained. The walk follows the river with two footbridges along the way which you cross over to a path running along the other side of the river. The walk as far as the second footbridge takes about 30 minutes. Be warned, it can get quite mucky in wet weather. There is an education centre here that hosts school trips but also hosts a number of events for the general public throughout the year about nature, conservation and the environment. Knocksink Wood is right beside Enniskerry village. Coming into Enniskerry on the Bray road pass the clock tower on your left, turn right onto Church Hill, cross the bridge and the woods and carpark are on the left.
3. Glendalough Green Road Walk
‘The valley of the two lakes’ or Glendalough is one of Wicklow’s most famous sights. It is rich in spectacular scenery, history, archaeology and abundant wildlife. It is home to a world famous monastic site, round tower, several scenic lakes and valleys with a selection of walks and trails. The Green Road Walk is an easy three kilometres walk on track and boardwalk. There are very slight ascents and descents. The trail passes through woodland and onto the Lower Lake wetland edge. The walk should take less than an hour. There is plenty of parking in Glendalough although some of it is pay parking. The boardwalk part of this walk is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
4. The Railway Walk
The Railway Walk at Tinahely runs along part of the original train track from Woodenbridge to Shillelagh, alongside the Derry River. The linear path is just over two kilometres long and is on a clearly defined trail which is suitable for sturdy buggies and wheelchairs. There are picnic tables along the way, so make sure to bring a little picnic to chow down on. The path runs along the original railway track that went from Woodenbridge to Shillelagh which closed in 1964. The route starts in Tinahely and goes to Tomnafinnoge Woods. There is parking at both ends of the walk.
5. Avondale Forest Park – Cairn Walk
In the 1770’s Samuel Hayes built Avondale House. He collected and planted a range of tree species from all over the world here. It is known as the birthplace of Irish forestry. The house moved into the ownership of the Parnell family in the 1800’s and was the birth-place of the great Irish statesman, Charles Stewart Parnell.
Coillte, in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and Wicklow County Council, is undertaking a significant re-development of Avondale Forest Park during 2019 and 2020 to create a visitor point which will bring visitors under the trees and through to a high viewing point above the Avonmore river valley. The Cairn Walk starts at the carpark near Avondale House. It is a loop so can be started either way. There are fabulous views of the Vale of Avoca and the Avonmore River. The walk is just over two kilometres and is mostly flat with some gentle slopes and is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs. It should take less than an hour.
6. Crone Woods – Maulin Mountain Loop
This six-kilometre loop walk gives beautiful views of Glencree, the Wicklow mountains and Ireland’s highest waterfall: Powerscourt Waterfall. In the distance, you can see Dublin and Dublin Bay. The walk starts at Crone Forest carpark. From here follow the arrows for the Wicklow Way through the forest. This will bring you up along the side of the waterfall. From here you can continue on to the summit of Maulin Mountain. This is a loop so follow the trail to bring you back to the forest and back to the carpark. This walk involves a 350m climb and is along forest track and path. It is suitable for children with some previous hiking experience.
7. Blessington Greenway
The Blessington Greenway walk links the historic town of Blessington with the Palladian mansion at Russborough House. The trail is flat and is six and a half kilometres in length. The trail goes along by the shores of Blessington Lakes starting at Avon Ri Adventure Centre. It crosses an ancient ringfort and goes through forest as well. This linear trail should take about one and a half hours each way. The terrain is forest roads, boardwalk and tarmacadam footpath meaning this route is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs, as well as for small children. There is a carpark at Avon Ri Adventure Centre or at Russborough House.
8. Knocknacloghoge: Lough Dan and Lough Tay
Slightly off the beaten track and much quieter than other hills around Lough Tay this walk is relatively easy and should take about three hours. The start of the walk is at the Pier Gates, entrance to Luggala Lodge. There is a layby further up the road towards Roundwood that you can park in. At Piers Gates, there is a pedestrian entrance to a tarmac trail leading downhill. This is the beginning of the walk. Following the path, you will come across a white cottage with a sign for Lough Dan. Follow this until the path ends and take a right through a gate towards Knocknacloghoge. This path leads around the summit but doesn’t actually go to the top. There are several small tracks from this path to the summit. Lough Tay is private property so access to it not allowed. Lough Dan is also private but the public are allowed access it, just no dogs are allowed. This is a relatively short climb suitable for most children.
9. Bray-Greystones Cliff walk
Coming from Bray this popular walk brings you around the coastal side of Bray Head and on to the seaside town of Greystones. The walk is relatively flat with some slight ascents along the way. It ends in Greystones marina. It is about seven kilometres long and takes approximately two hours each way. There is also an option to climb to the top of Bray Head from the Bray side and come down the other side and join up with the cliff walk. This option involves some steeper climbs and tiny trails so it would only be good for families with older children. The cliff walk would be suitable for children of any age capable of a walk this length. In Greystones, there are a number of ice cream shops, cafes and restaurants and a Dart station to bring you back to Bray if you don’t want to walk back. The cliff walk starts at Bray seafront where there are car parks and on-street parking, although spaces do fill up on sunny weekend days.
10. Woodenbridge- Meeting of the Waters
This walk along the valley floor follows the flow of the Avoca River alongside the road. It passes through the village of Avoca, where the original Avoca Handweavers is. There are also several spots along the way to stop for refreshments. The walk is a linear route and is seven kilometres. The route is relatively flat with the max height climbed being about 150 m. If doing this route with small children be careful as it is along beside a main road. You can start the walk from either Woodenbridge or the Meeting of the Waters and both sides have parking.
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