Your guide to two of the best looped road cycling routes around South County Wicklow.
Basing yourself in Arklow gives you access to some of the best road cycling routes in Wicklow. The combination of coastal views, gentle rolling hills and the occasional steep climb offers a great variety of road cycling options.
Here are a couple of ideas, but with so many villages and towns dotted across the region, there are many more options to link up for shorter or longer bike rides.
Arklow – Glenmalure – Rathdrum - Arklow: 75km.
This scenic loop starts and ends in Arklow. From Arklow head alongside the River Avoca to Woodenbridge, before turning at the Woodenbridge Hotel for Aughrim. From Aughrim head up by Macreddin Village and Greenan towards Glenmalure, a continuous climb which brings you up past the Glenmalure Lodge. This is the perfect halfway point to stop off!
After the hotel you'll be turning right toward Laragh/Glendalough, and you'll soon you’ll pass the Shay Elliott Memorial, named for the legendary Irish Cyclist, marking the finish line of a King of the Mountains section.
This is the highest point of the route and soon after you will commence your descent down toward the Laragh/Glendalough road. You could take a detour if you have time to explore Glendalough, but for now this route has you turning right for Rathdrum. On through the Clara Vale next for a relatively easy section which undulates gradually downwards into Rathdrum, a busy town which is another popular stop off point. Try Jacob's Well for a refreshing drink or bite to eat.
At the crossroads, next turn right towards the ‘Meetings of the Waters’. This route then bypasses the village of Avoca and continues on to Woodenbridge, where you will pass through the Vale of Avoca for the homeward stretch back into Arklow.
On this ride you will encounter a couple of big climbs and some spectacular Wicklow scenery and this route forms part of the annual Wicklow 200 race.
Arklow – Redcross – Brittas Bay – Arklow: 50km
Leaving Arklow the route follows the Beech Road (turning at Homesavers) for about 3km until you see a turn off to the right signposted Redcross. Soon after, keeping straight on these narrow country roads, you will encounter a decent climb up towards a peak at Barriniskey with great views of the surrounding Wicklow hills and coastline, before a nice downward section into Redcross village.
The Wicklow Brewery is a good stop off point if you need to refuel, before continuing on into Barndarrig. You could detour to the National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh or continue straight to pass across the old N11 road in the direction of Kilbride/Dunganstown. Continue heading east along winding country roads to link up with the coast road towards Potters Point & Brittas Bay . You may like to stop off at the Elephant & Castle for a rest break, which has a variety of dining options.
Continue south to Brittas Bay and along the Coast Road which has one steep incline before leveling out and then descending gently towards your destination. You will encounter the best scenery of this route as the narrow road hugs the coastline. Enjoy the gorgeous views all the way back into Arklow!