Wicklow Way: The First 85,000 Steps

Kelsey Breseman
3 min readMay 5, 2023

It's been two days and about forty miles, with full packs and constant elevation change. Underfoot, we've had roots, bogs, rocks, tarmac, railroad ties, fields, and gravel. The weather has been spectacular, sunlight setting the moss aglow and sparkling across the brooks, though the wind has chapped my cheeks.

It's beautiful, but the mileage is a lot. This evening, I soaked in a cold bath for fifteen minutes while eating a plastic cup of instant noodles. I was hungry and sore, and our B&B host wasn't seating for dinner until seven.

We didn't give ourselves much leeway. Sitting at the table in February, I remember looking at the table of distances, thinking seven hours a day sounded about right. Eileen probably pushed back; she prefers not to go over five. But the Wicklow Way is not well supported, so in the end, we didn't have much choice.

This path, Ireland's oldest signposted long walk, was only opened in 1981. Unlike other long walks in Europe, this is no ancient pilgrimage. As such, the infrastructure is more or less whatever was there already. In this case, that means: very little lodging available directly on route, but also camping is not allowed. Few towns; no groceries, and hopefully there's a pub for dinner. If you need a bathroom — good luck, there's nothing.