Garden Creators of East and West Wicklow Mountains
Experience a day trip to these micro-climatic garden gems hidden in the valleys south of Dublin as we follow the Sun from East to West across the scenic Wicklow Mountains
The valleys of Co. Wicklow have been popular with collectors of exotic plants for centuries and the special environment here allows a breath-taking mix of exotic and native plant species to thrive side by side.
We start our day by travelling south from Dublin through the foothills of the Wicklow mountains to the National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh. Here you will learn about the history of the gardens and the Acton family who created them. The gardens are famous for their wonderful Himalayan rhododendrons, rising 10m high, while the Chinese Garden boasts a wide range of trees and shrubs collected during Irish botanical expeditions to the Hubei and Sichuan provinces. You will discover how trees evolved on a walk through the thematically-planted “Fossil Lawn”, or consider the ongoing researches into the native Irish grassland and woodland ecosystems that are also represented here. You will also have time to wander on your own or enjoy refreshment in these spectacular surroundings.
On the way to our next destination we follow the beautiful Vale of Clara, clothed in the largest area of semi-natural woodland in Co. Wicklow and said to be one of the most extensive stands of native hardwoods in Ireland.
Just a kilometer from the famous hiking route the ‘Wicklow Way’, we reach the picturesque mountain village of Laragh, where there are many lunch options available including a gastropub, a garden café with soup and sandwiches and a gourmet wine bar.
In the afternoon, we travel over the Wicklow Gap, stopping at the highest point to admire the rugged landscape which has appeared in films such as `Excalibur’ and `Braveheart’. This is where 1,500 extras recruited from the Irish Defence Forces and excused shaving for many weeks, donned kilts and little else and led by Mel Gibson, charged down the mountainside to attack the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
We then descend the western slopes of the mountains to Hunting Brook Gardens, a hidden hillside wonderland which is being expanded by its devoted creator Jimi Blake. Hunting Brook is home to one of Ireland’s largest private collections of plants. Among the many delights which Jimi will show us is his theatrically beautiful ‘Long Border’, made up of two curving, steeply sloping banks which rise up either side of the main avenue. Afterwards you may wander through further horticultural delights and enjoy a cup of tea in Jimi’s ‘Sun Trap’.
For whom is this tour suitable?
Whether garden enthusiasts or historians of any level, all will be impressed by the horticultural creations you will experience, both formal and power flower. A wide range of associated topics and more, will be discussed as we travel through the diverse landscapes of this part of Ireland’s Ancient East.
Generally all paths are manageable for all levels of walker. The guided walks on this tour are on both solid and unpaved pathways. Steeper and more uneven paths can be experienced on your own during free time. We highly recommend suitable sturdy footwear for best enjoyment of this day.
- Tour duration of approximately 8 hours
- Spacious, fully air-conditioned coach
- Live on-board commentary in English by an Irish Tourist Board approved, fully insured Tourist Guide
- Complementary WiFi on board
- Entrance fees to all sites
- Guiding on the sites by qualified local guides
- Lunch and all refreshments are at your own expense
Good To Know
- Sturdy footwear and weather-appropriate clothing are recommended
- Generally tours will run with a minimum of 20 persons and a maximum of 40
- Travel times between stops will be between 45 and 90 minutes. We do not anticipate additional comfort stops being necessary
- The coach will be white and have the name ‘Sillan’ in red on the front, back and sides
- As we must always keep to schedule, guests should be at the arranged meeting point at least 15 minutes before the designated departure time. No refunds can be given for no-shows.
Bus Departure Times
Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street 09.00
Shelbourne Hotel, Stephen’s Green 09.15
Mespil Hotel, Grand Canal, Mespil Road 09.30
Return to Dublin
Mespil Hotel 17.00
Shelbourne Hotel 17.15
Gresham Hotel 17.30
Children under 14 and students with a valid ID card will be given €5 back as they board the coach.