Pad your itinerary with pub time (Patricia Hofmeester / age fotostock)
Journeying across Ireland's 3,000-foot Wicklow Mountains might be as much of a challenge to your liver as to your feet: As one Irish hiker I met declared, ďIf Iím not walking to a pub, Iím not walking!Ē
But the countryís famous brews are just one of many charms the 82-mile, semi-wild path has to offer. From the remote town of Clonegal up to Dublin, trek past beehive huts, villages, farmland, lichen-covered rocks, and pine forests. Sheep and cows abound, but you'll need Irishluck to spot Wicklowís infamous red squirrel (English-introduced grey squirrels nearly wiped them out). The 10,892 feet of total elevation gain and loss through the rolling, upland hills will leave you just a wee bit worn, but itís nothing a Guinness wonít cure.
Irelandís first long-distance trek is as much cultural immersion as wilderness experience (it includes road walking, as do many UK treks), but that didnít disappoint. En route, I milked a cow at Kyle Farmhouse, caught chickens at the Wicklow Way Lodge, and feigned river dancing at the Glenmalure Lodge pub. Love history? The trek passes the ruins of the 7th-century Glendalough Monastic City, among other sites. With trail markers at each junction, you canít get lost. Expect evenings of Celtic craic (fun) in the infamous Irish pubs, and traditional Irish hospitalityóI couldnít pay for a pint even when I tried.