Continuing down the coast
Heading south, even more garden glories await: at magnificent Mount Usher Gardens in Ashford, you'll find a variety of plant species and trees including magnolias, camellias and ornamental shrubs – while just down the road, the National Botanic Gardens in Kilmacurragh feature a spectacular collection of rhododendrons that flower from early springtime, putting on a riotous display of rainbow colours.
Once you've had your fill (for now) of grand estates, lush landscapes and country air, head to Wicklow Town – a busy county hub where you'll find many appealing options for lunch or dinner. There's much to see here, but a visit to atmospheric Wicklow Gaol is top of the list while you're in the town – though you might need to be brave to take a tour of this foreboding place, filled with chilling tales of its dark history!
After a jaunt into town, it's back out into the captivating countryside. An area of breathtaking beauty and stillness, Glendalough
is surpassingly serene, tailor-made for contemplation – so much so that it served as a monastic site from as early as the 6th century. The Glendalough Visitor Centre
offers an exhibition, audiovisual shows, and guided tours – you can also enjoy hikes suitable for all levels, from a brief meander amongst the monastery ruins to a demanding trek through the valley and around the lakes. The challenging 10km Spink Loop walk
in particular – with its excellent waymarking and well looked-after trail – is a visitor favourite (set aside a good four to five hours for this journey).
To get a taste of country life in Wicklow
, you can't do much better than Avoca
. One of the prettiest villages in Ireland, its known for the Meeting of the Waters, where the Avonmore and Avonbeg join together to become the River Avoca. And where there's running water, there's mills – here you'll also find the original Avoca Handweavers
. Featuring a large store and café, there's a working hand weaving mill on site as well. Dating from 1723, it's said to be Ireland’s oldest working mill
(one of the world’s oldest, in fact).
Apart from its fascinating history and beautiful handcrafts, Avoca Handweavers is also great for grabbing a bite – with locally sourced, delicious food on offer. Though should you fancy a pub for your grub, just a stone's throw away in Redcross
, seek out Mickey Finn's
for a tasty feed. Whatever you're in the mood for when the hunger or thirst is upon you – there are so many alternatives in Wicklow
you won't be short of places to replenish before moving on.