Image source: Instagram.com/jimkella
Trail: Mangan’s Loop, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow
Terrain: Track, farmland
Trailhead: Mangan’s Lane
Recommended Gear: Hiking Boots, phone, raingear, water
Standing at the top of Garrynoe Hill, with a 360-view looking over the village of Tinahely and the surrounding lush green fields, you know you’ve found a truly special place.
Mangan’s Loop, Tinahely, is a thoroughly rewarding trail – with stellar views from the top of Garrynoe Hill, 400m above sea level.
Tinahely is a small village, nestled in the Derry River Valley, in the southern reaches of the Wicklow Mountains.
While the hills in this area are diminutive cousins of their larger northern relatives, one of the great things about Tinahely’s walking trails is the scope for variety in the routes you can take.
The trails vary in difficulty level, offering a walking experience to suit those of any and all athletic abilities.
Mangan’s Loop is situated just outside the picturesque village of Tinahely in Co. Wicklow.
The best way to travel is by car via the N11 coming from Dublin and onto the M11 through Wicklow. Take exit 21 and continue on the R772 until you reach Tinahely.
The GAA carpark is the best place to park and walkers are reminded that this is a farming area and that the narrow Mangan’s Lane is in constant, local use so parking is prohibited at the trailhead.
9km (note the official Loop is 5kms; but the laneway from where you park your car to walk to the trailhead is approx. 1.5/2km each way).
The Trail Itself
The trail kicks off at the end of Mangan’s Lane, about 1.5km from the GAA carpark.
It’s a picturesque country lane bordered by farmland and you’ll enjoy stunning tree-framed views of Tinahely across the pastures.
After the short walk up this quaint country lane, you will see the signs for the start of the trail and from here you’ll be following the green arrows. Passing through a gate, you will take your first steps on the rocky track and the first stretch of your walk.
You’ll be met with a wave of fresh air and beautiful lush green surroundings with vibrant foxgloves bordering the track in summer.
You’ll soon arrive at a choice of two right turns - take the first and continue on the slight ascent. As you reach higher ground you’ll begin to realise just how remote the walk truly is as you get lost in your surroundings – it’s hard to believe that you’re just over an hour away from Dublin!
After you’ve turned right, you’ll walk for about ten minutes and go through a turnstile gate. You’ll notice a memorial cross to the right of the stile, that marks the spot where Dr. James Mc Namara was tragically killed in a hunting accident in 1916.
This is also a perfect spot to take a moment and look out over the farmland and pastures with their many shades of lush green.
After this, the incline gets more intense, so brace yourself for an uphill climb!
Following the green arrows closely (there is a left turn through the grass that you could easily miss!) you’ll traverse a steep slope until you are faced with a fence, and it’s at this point that you turn left to start your ascent in earnest.
This is Garrynoe Hill, and as you climb, you’ll gradually see the small stone cairn materialising in front of you – signalling that you are almost there!
If you need to catch your breath, it’s always a good time to stop and turn around to take stock of the beautiful views over the rolling horizon behind you.
When you reach the summit, you’ll realise it was worth the climb.
The northern horizon is lined with the silhouette of the higher reaches of the Wicklow Mountains, including Lugnaquilla and Croghan Moira, while the rich pasture in the foreground remind you that Wicklow truly is the ‘Garden of Ireland’.
If you’re looking for somewhere convenient to stay, then look no further than Murphy’s Hotel. The family-run hotel also has a restaurant and bar and is situated right in the centre of Tinahely village.
Alternatively, Kyle Farmhouse B&B is a fantastic option. Set in the hills of the Wicklow mountains on a working dairy farm you will be surrounded by natural beauty and a slower pace of life.
There is another gorgeous B&B in the heart of Tinahely village called Madeline’s B&B. This cosy house was built in 1843 so you’ll be able to soak in a little history here. With a cafe downstairs, Madeline’s is a walker's favourite.
Aside from Tinahely, there are a couple of other towns in the vicinity that are worth checking out and staying in to enjoy your short break.
One of the biggest towns in Wicklow is Arklow, with a huge number of shops, restaurants, bars and things to do. Founded in the ninth century by the Vikings, the historic culture of Arklow runs deep, and you can dive into the museums and castles to find out more.
Aughrim is a smaller town nestled in the scenic area where the Ow and Derry rivers meet and is surrounded by the woodland hills of Wicklow. It has become a popular tourist destination with a number of walking routes, fishing opportunities and the Greenan Maze for you to get lost in.
For those who love active breaks, Broomfield Equestrian Centre offers horse-riding experiences for all levels from beginner to advanced. There are miles of cross country trekking to be done to take in the beautiful surroundings.
Tinahely Farm Shop & Activity Centre is a fantastic idea for the whole family – it has a large indoor beach along with fuzeball and ping pong tables. On top of this, there are donkeys, ponies, pigs and goats to pet and feed, and beautiful fresh produce from the farmer’s market.
Just a short drive away, you can indulge at the Chocolate Garden of Ireland. The award-winning, family-run factory is perfect to enjoy chocolate and ice cream in the cafe or even better, to join in some of the chocolate-making activities.
If it’s the arts that you’re into, then make sure to swing by Tinahely Courthouse, the non-profit organization dedicated to creative expression and cultural diversity. They always have a decent line-up ready for you to dive into.
Food & Drink
Tinahely Farm Shop and Restaurant is run by a local family and epitomises homegrown cooking. If you’re in need of a hearty bowl of soup with some homemade bread and a fresh coffee then look no further.
Madeline's Restaurant is perfect if you’re in the mood for a fine dining experience. With fresh hake, chorizo pasta and roast sirloin of beef, Madeline’s is an eclectic blend of modern and Irish cuisine.
O'Connor's Bar & Lounge is an award-winning bar and restaurant situated on the main street in Tinahely village. Serving up fine food, delicious drinks and live music, you’re sure to have plenty of craic in O’ Connors.
Dying Cow is perfect if you’re looking for a traditional Irish pub to have a pint and a chat after a refreshing walk. With room for only a handful of people, you’ll be sure to get an authentic experience here.
Photo via Facebook/TheDyingCowPub
For spectacular sights, invigorating sensations and unforgettable experiences, make your next short break a walking break in Ireland’s Ancient East. Before you go, make sure you check out our 10 Genuinely Useful Tips For Going Hiking In Ireland to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable walk.
It’s always important to be respectful of the wildlife and surrounding environment, so make sure to leave the trail as you found it. Visit leavenotraceireland.org for more information.