Leaving Arklow and driving inland for about 7km you soon come to Woodenbridge, a small settlement and home to Ireland’s oldest hotel, The Woodenbridge Hotel & Lodge. A roadside paved walking path is provided from Woodenbridge to Rathdrum, approximately 14km in length (28km return), ideal for those looking for a long flat walk, or for wheelchairs or buggy users. Or why not break up your walk as suggested in more detail below.
Tip: If completing the full walk, we recommend you drive to Rathdrum and park in the public car park adjacent to the National Parnell Memorial Park to begin your walk. From there you can walk all the way to Woodenbridge on the footpath safely alongside quiet country roads, enveloped with mature trees.
Section 1: Rathdrum to The Meetings Pub & Shop – 4.5km one way / 9km return
Set off from the Parnell Memorial Park in Rathdrum towards The Meetings of the Waters. The footpath passes under a gorgeous canopy of Irish native trees on the way. When you arrive at the Meetings of the Waters, take some time to explore the Thomas Moore Memorial Park, the local gifts in the craft shop, or to enjoy a pint of the black stuff or bite to eat, while soaking up views of the Rivers Avonbeg & Avonmore where they meet.
Section 2: The Meetings to Avoca – 5km one way or 10km return
The Vale of Avoca is renowned for being one of the most scenic spots in County Wicklow. The wooded valley begins where the rivers Avonbeg and Avonmore meet to form the River Avoca at The Meetings, before flowing down into the Great Estuary at Arklow.
Taking the path from The Meetings, about half-way towards Avoca Village on your left is the White Bridge. Here you can take a detour towards the Avoca Mines if you wish. A short up and back will give you a flavour of some of the heritage of the area. If you fancy a more strenuous hike, follow the road from the White Bridge past the mines for 2.5km uphill to the White Cross, where you will be rewarded with amazing views down onto the valley. Come back to the White Bridge on the same route.
Further along from the White Bridge you will reach Avoca Village, home to the famous Avoca Handweavers which is Ireland’s oldest weaving mill. Fitzgerald’s pub, as featured in the BBC series Ballykissangel, offers a traditional Irish setting for food and drinks. If you fancy heading into the forest, the Red Kite looped walk brings you higher up above the valley through some wonderful woodlands. It’s only 2.5km but really packs a punch and don’t forget to look out for the Red Kite soaring overhead. To begin the Red Kite Walk, walk through the village past the RC Church and take the signposted forest path on the right. Follow the signs to complete the loop and bring you back to Avoca village.
Section 3: Avoca to Woodenbridge – 4.5km one way or 9km return.
This is arguably the most scenic section of the walk with beautiful mature trees creating a tunnel overhead, and is particularly spectacular in Autumn. The River Avoca flows alongside in parts and as you near the end of this section the Woodenbridge Golf Course, surrounded by the river and mature forest, is visible back through the valley. A great place to stop for a bite to eat or a drink is the Woodenbridge Hotel where you will be assured of locally sourced, great quality food in the Goldmine’s Bistro. Catch up on some of the historical happenings associated with the hotel, as you browse the huge array of memorabilia hanging on every wall.
Return to Rathdrum for your Car – it’s only 14km straight from Woodenbridge!