Out of the city and into the wild

We at The City love our urban home, but everyone needs an escape from time to time. Louise Carroll explores some of the best activities on offer in nearby Wicklow.

You’ll never find yourself bored in Dublin. The city is a bustling metropolis with exhibitions, performances, rooftop bars, outstanding food and a renowned creative culture.

But there’s little as refreshing to body and mind as submersing yourself in nature and exploring something new.

Now that the great warm orb in the sky has decided to present itself once more—however brieflyperhaps it’s time we urban dwellers swap the concrete for wilder locations.

Wicklow boasts some of the most idyllic landscapes in Ireland. What’s more it’s right on our doorstep and easily accessed by car or public transport. Here are a few options for the adventurer in us all.

The great outdoors

A spot that has never lost its allure is the Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry. The famous gardens stretch over forty seven acres.

The Terrace Café offers views of the landscaped Italian Gardens and the nearby Sugarloaf mountain. There is also a fairytale-like woodland walkway that truly comes to life at this time of year.

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Powerscourt Gardens Terrace Café view. Image by Louise Carroll

The Japanese Gardens manages to fit in its own bedrock conclave in the midst of native trees and manicured terraces.

The Pets Cemetery might sound morbid as a spring mid-day stroll. However, the final resting place of many well-loved animals proves rather emotive.

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‘Powerscourt Gardens’ Image by Louise Carroll

Glendalough

The valley of the two lakes attracts visitors for its history, wildlife and rocky terrain.

There are diverse range of trails and most are easy to follow. However, guided walks and hikes are available. A wide variety of routes are on offer from the Derrybawn Woodland Trail to the strenuous Spinc and Glenealo Valley Walk.

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‘The valley of the two lakes.’ Image by Louise Carroll

Simply being out in the open air among the green and gravel shrouded landscape is all that’s needed to hear the serene echoes and divert from the city hum.

Biking

If you’d rather be immersed in nature with a more adrenalin powered approach, Ballinastoe mountain biking in Roundwood provides a two-wheeled alternative.

The various trails provide opportunities to explore the craggy landscape.Tracks range in difficulty but Ballinastoe offers guided trails that folks of all levels can enjoy.

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‘View from the Top’ Image by Louise Carroll

Although strenuous in parts—while your hands grip firmly to jolting handlebars—it’s a sure way to exert built up bundles of energy. The refreshing scents and views of the landscape make the effort worthwhile.

Watch out for hikers who might mosey away from their designated paths from time to time.

Food

Every Saturday, Kilruddery Farm Market in Bray brings together suppliers of local food, crafts and bundles of second hand books.

Standalone businesses and food producers’ counters are dotted around inside of the grey stone barn and in the centre of the old farm yard.

The foodie will enjoy the locally sourced organic produce including chutneys, fresh bakes and juices.

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Kilruddery Farmer Market. Image by Louise Carroll

Attracting walkers, adventurers and canines, this is an excitingly warm, colourful place.

Fancy the option of foraging for your food?  

From 1 April, Geraldine Kavanagh of Wicklow Wild Foods will be bringing groups of around ten people around the rustic pathways and verdant forests.

A Wicklow native, Geraldine set up Wicklow Wild Foods to encourage an ancient skill that has been neglected.

“I had been foraging for years myself and one day I thought—’oh I actually know a lot about this,’” said Geraldine about the inspiration behind her business.

Learning how to forage—what can and cannot be eaten—is the pinnacle for some adventurers.

We are surrounded by nutritional foods that are often ignored. Over time, people can develop plant identification skills that can be useful in the great outdoors.

Drink

If you’re feeling parched, Wicklow Wolf craft beer brewery is located in Bray.  As long as you can string together a group of six people or more, a tour outlining the creation of their various beers can get underway.

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Wicklow Wolf Beers. Image by Louise Carroll

Enjoy sample of beer upon arrival, then follow the story behind the brewery and how the drink is made. A Q&A session closes the tour, then more craft beers can be tasted.

Expect a broad range of tastes for the palette ranging from rich-coffee caramel notes to cool, fruity malts and varying hop aromas among their IPA’s and pale ales.

Full Throttle

Wicklow isn’t simply beautiful scenery. Situated in a business park in Arklow, Stunt Drive Ireland lets you try your hand behind the wheel of Mazda MX5’s and Mitsubishi Colts.

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Cars shown are some of those used to teach stunt driving. Image by Louise Carroll

Here anyone can learn how to stunt drive over the course of a few months or simply enjoy an action-packed day on the track.

The driving is professionally supervised by Brendan Condren—who has over twenty years experience in the stunt driving industry—along with the team who do everything to make it an enjoyable occasion.

An enormous grey open space divided by lines of car tires reveals three straight tracks—perfect for getting to grips with 360 degree spins, handbrake turns and other techniques we see on the big screen.

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Feature image by Louise Carroll
Video by Louise Carroll, music by Tobu
http://www.youtube.com/tobuofficial

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