For me, Day 1 of the Wicklow Way walk was from Marlay Park in Dublin to Enniskerry in Co Wicklow. Here’s how I got on!
Rain. So much rain.
First lesson from the Wicklow Way. You can’t trust the opening times listed on the Brambles Cafe website. My Aunt was going to complete day 1 with me. The two of us were really looking forward to our Wicklow Way walk from Marlay Park. My wife dropped us at the car park in Marlay Park. Unfortunately, my wife had a work call she had to get back to so left us in Marlay Park at 9a.m. We had expected rain but were planning on grabbing a coffee in Brambles while we waited for the baggage collection at 9.30.
There was no sign of life in Brambles so we had to wait under a tree in the pouring rain. In fairness to Brambles, they probably don’t usually do any business in this sort of weather so might have just decided to open up late that day.
Lesson 2 of the Wicklow Way – rain gear is important. I was very grateful for my waterproof trousers and jacket while we waited. My Aunt also had a rain poncho which was handy as it covered her back-pack.
The Wicklow Way starts from the information board in the car park (beside Marley House). We could see the start of the Way inscribed on the wall. Through the gap in the wall and it’s off we go!
The trail goes through the very pretty park before going alongside a busy dual carriageway (M50) for a short distance. Then it’s through a tunnel and we start the first of many many inclines over the next six days. This steep hill is about 1km along the road before we reached the entrance to the forest at Kilmashogue.
I believe there is a 5,000 year old burial tomb at the entrance to the forest. However, it was much too wet for us to explore it. We continued our incline through the forest and then on to a well-maintained trackway after we left the forest.
At just before 6km, we leave this trackway and turn right on to a gravel/rocky path. Underfoot conditions are a bit trickier here but still manageable. We walked along this path with the forest on our left-hand-side.
Wild Weather on the Wicklow Way
The weather was at its worst for us at this point. The forest to one side created a wind-tunnel type effect and we were buffeted by very strong winds as we continued the ascent. The rain was coming at us sideways and it was tough going.
My aunt very sensibly decided that it might be better for her to turn back at this stage. The weather was just too bad. She walked back to Marlay Park and was able to get the number 16 bus back into the city centre.
I continued on my way and was soon into the open mountain top. The trail then descends to reach the Glencullen road at Ballybrack at the 9km mark.
Lunch With a View
It’s around 1.5km of a road walk towards Glencullen. The Way turns right before the village. A small detour to the village would get you to Johnny Foxes pub which would be a possible stop for lunch. Probably best to check with them in advance to see if there are any Covid restrictions that would affect opening hours.
You cross the Glencullen River and it’s a c. 3km ascent from there on to get to the top of Prince William’s Seat. Just after you cross the Glencullen River there is a lovely waterfall on your right hand side. It’s worth a scramble under the fence for a closer look.
I had my packed lunch just before entering the forest. There is a lovely flat rock on the left-hand-side of the road which was a perfect stopping point. It gave me lovely views back over the valley as I ate.
Prince William’s Seat
The climb to Prince William’s seat is tough. I was lucky that I was able to see some deer crossing the path in front of me as I made my way through the forest.
The weather had finally cleared up at this point and I was in great spirits as I made the climb.
When I reached the summit I was rewarded with spectacular views. The descent from Prince William’s Seat was probably the trickiest section of the whole Wicklow Way. It’s an uneven rocky pathway. I took my time and moved slowly downhill. When the rocky path finishes, it’s a gravel track downwards towards Curtlestown Car Park at 17km.
I then left the Wicklow Way and turned left to walk along the L1011 towards Enniskerry. This is a busy-ish road (I met a car every couple of minutes) so caution is needed. I had a room booked in the Enniskerry Inn and reached there at 3.15pm. It was a great relief to take off my damp clothes and jump into a lovely warm shower. Day 1 was done! I completed my Wicklow Way walk from Marlay Park to Enniskerry. 22km of walking in total. The morning rain had definitely put a dampener on things but the surroundings along the Wicklow Way made it worth it and I enjoyed a couple of pints with my dinner that evening to reward myself for getting through it.