12 Great Irish Drives: Wicklow Mountains and Sally Gap

by Paul Wilson | 2 min read

July 8th, 2019

For summer 2019, we are partnering with TheJournal.ie to bring you 12 Great Irish Drives: the most amazing road trips in the country. Whether it’s with friends, family or by yourself these trips should give you the courage to get in the car and go explore.

This week, Paul Wilson takes on the Wicklow Mountains, with a stop off for a satisfying hike at Glendalough – and thrilling sights along the Sally Gap.

wicklow-mountains



JUST UNDER AN hour south of Dublin, Wicklow town nestles on the coast. As for the mountains, you’ll know you’ve arrived by the colours: rich brown earth, purple heather and golden gorse.

On the R759, the road leads you to the Sally Gap. This road gets a shout-out on dangerousroads.org – but only because winter snow sometimes renders it impassable. On a summer’s day it’s a wonderful route to bring you further into the mountains.

The stark black waters of Lough Tay are in contrast to the white sand along the top edge which form a man-made beach. Lough Tay can be viewed easily from Military Road.

lough-tay

At the Liffey Head Bog, the river Liffey rises toward Dublin. The first bridge over the river is high in the mountains, 600m from the source. The rare Red Grouse nests around here – you’ll be lucky to spot him, but listen out for his explosively guttural call because you can’t miss it.

The road will lead you onward from here to Blessington, and slightly further on you’ll hit Russborough. This is an exquisite historical house with acres of parkland, its own fairy trail and an annual Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

glendalough1

At Hollywood, you can join the Wicklow Gap on the R756, zig-zagging east through the Wicklow Mountains National Park. 

 

At Glendalough, Kevin of Glendalough set down a monastic city of sorts in the sixth century, with the Round Tower and St Kevin’s Bed two particular sites of interest, along with an endless spread of views, lakes and walking trails. 

From Laragh, the R755 heads for the Vale of Clara, but if you have kids in the car, Clara Lara FunPark should be your first stop for canoeing, zip lining, obstacle courses and heaps more.

Then, take the Forest Walk through the Vale, where you’ll spot plenty of wild juicy bilberries just waiting to be picked and eaten.

Only open March to June, at Macreddin Village, The Strawberry Tree was the first certified organic restaurant in Ireland, and it’s worth a stop to treat yourself to a locally sourced meal.

The R752 will take you to Avoca (where Ballykissangel was filmed). Keep your eye to the sky here – the Red Kite bird, reintroduced to Ireland after a 200-year absence, has been spotted around Avoca. 

avoca-river

The Avoca River, Co Wicklow. Source: lifeisajourney22

Heading back towards Wicklow, the Blue Flag Brittas Beach is full of powdery sand and dunes, ideal for swimming or strolling as the sun sets.


Many choices we make in life can require a degree of courage, big or small. Whether it’s the moment you sit behind the wheel for the first time, decide to settle down, or bite the bullet and take that trip of your dreams. This is how great things happen and, at Allianz, we are proud to support people who have the courage to go forward in life.

About the author

bio image for Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson

Paul is a travel journalist at the Journal.ie. Allianz and the Journal.ie have partnered for Summer 2019 to bring you 12 Great Irish Drives: the most amazing road trips in the country.