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“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”

John Muir

A Place to Learn


Explore a range of learning opportunities in Wicklow Mountains National Park. Whether you’re interested in nature and ecology, local history, or planning a visit with your group, our National Park supports a wide range of learning experiences.

A Place to Learn

Our Education Centre


Wicklow Mountains National Park Education Centre
The National Park Education Centre is located on the Miners’ Road beside the Upper Lake. Primary and secondary school groups are welcome to book a themed visit run by our experienced team of Guides. Other groups are also welcome.

Visitors can park at the Upper Lake Car Park and walk 200m up the Miners’ Road to the Education Centre.

Directions

Our Education Programme

We welcome primary and secondary schools to our park, where we have a rich and varied education programme. We regularly run themed nature awareness days for primary schools, and ecology and environmental days for secondary schools. Third level groups, summer projects, special needs groups and adult groups are also welcome. We are happy to tailor a day to suit you.

How to book:

Please call 0404 45656 to make a booking. Our education programme diary opens twice a year:

1st June: Booking taken for September to December.

1st December: Bookings taken for January to June.

Information for your trip:

Our programme is free of charge. A parking fee may apply.

Groups must be accompanied by one adult leader for every 10 students or children visiting the Education Centre. The National Park reserves the right to turn away groups that arrive with less than the agreed number of leaders.

The Education Centre is located on Miners’ Road beside Upper Lake in Glendalough. Parking is at the privately-run Upper Lake Car Park. There is a parking charge. Top tip: When you book your bus, specify that you need to go to the Upper Lake.

Directions to the Upper Lake Car Park:

Follow signs to Glendalough. In the valley of Glendalough, drive past the OPW Visitor Centre and the Glendalough Hotel. Go over a narrow bridge and continue for 1.5km. The Upper Lake Car Park is on your left at the end of the road.

Finding the Education Centre:

Take the path along the river (beside the car park entrance). Go right over a bridge and then left up the Miner’s Road. The Education Centre is 200m up this path.

Upper Lake Car Park Coordinates: (53,00762 -6.34469)

Toilets: Toilets are located at the Upper Lake Car Park.

Food: Students are advised to bring a packed lunch.

All students and children should wear several warm layers and bring a spare set of clothes.

Visitors are advised to bring midge repellent. Please note that ticks are present in Wicklow, so schools are advised to make students and parents aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease. Information will be sent to you when you book.

Address: Education Centre, Wicklow Mountains National Park, Kilafin, Laragh, via Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, A98 K286.

Phone: 0404 45656

Email: wickloweducationcentre@npws.gov.ie

Child Walking
Our Education Centre is located at the Upper Lake in Glendalough. We offer a free nature awareness
programme for primary schools with several themes, designed for all age groups.
Book a School Trip

Nature Awareness Day

Age Range: Any

Time of Year: Any

This study involves:

Children are encouraged to explore nature using a variety of fun activities that make full use of the
five senses. This programme is suitable for all students, particularly for schools bringing mixed
groups. This programme borrows activities from our entire range of themes.

  • A treasure hunt
  • A scavenger hunt
  • A nature walk full of fun activities

Nature for Infants

Age Range: Junior & Senior Infants.

Time of Year: Any, but preferably during the warmer months.

This study involves:

This is a fun day that focuses on introducing nature to the very young through a series of
age-specific activities.

  • A scavenger hunt
  • Exploring plants, bugs and larger animals
  • Basic food chains
  • Drama and other fun activities

1st – 4th Class

Wildlife & Wilderness

Age Range: 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th classes.

Time of Year: Any.

This study involves:

Most children know a certain amount about lions, tigers and other foreign wildlife. But many Irish children are unaware of the wildlife in their own country. This day focuses on our Irish mammals, birds, frogs and lizards.

  • A wildlife themed treasure hunt
  • Birdwatching
  • A scavenger hunt
  • A wildlife safari
  • A wildlife quiz (if time permits)

Bug Safari

Age Range: 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th classes.

Time of Year: March to October only.

This study involves:

The bug world is full of drama, with herbivores and carnivores of all shapes and sizes. From lowly earthworms to beautiful butterflies, bugs are found in every habitat.

  • A bug treasure hunt
  • A bug hunt, exploring the bugs of several habitats, and using bug jars, nets, pooters, and
    beating sheets. Bug themed activities also feature
  • A bug quiz (optional)
  • A bug slideshow (optional)

Irish Jungle

Age Range: 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th classes.

Time of Year: April to October, when the leaves are on the trees.

This study involves:

On an Irish Jungle day, children will discover the difference between a daisy and a dandelion, and much, much more.

  • A plant treasure hunt
  • A plant exploration walk, looking at trees, algae, lichens, flowers, and shrubs, and exploring how plants gather their energy from the sun, what eats plants and how plants fight back
  • Fun activities using blindfolds and other props to help introduce plants to children in a fun way
  • A plant quiz is an optional extra, if time allows

Mini Bioblitz / Biodiversity Day

Age Range: 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th classes.

Time of Year: Any.

This study involves:

A bioblitz is a race to record species. This mini-bioblitz encourages children to discover the wide variety of life around them. It also fits perfectly into the Green Schools Biodiversity programme.

  • A treasure hunt
  • A bioblitz walk to see how many species we can find
  • A wildlife quiz is an optional extra, if time allows

5th – 6th Class

Take a hike

Age Range: 5th & 6th classes.

Time of Year: Any.

This study involves:

Our hikes vary from heading up a steep hill to admire a fabulous view, to a flat walk to explore ancient ruins. We also introduce the children to Leave No Trace, an outdoor ethics programme that encourages us all to look after our surroundings.

  • A Leave No Trace treasure hunt
  • A walk to explore Glendalough and to discuss the seven principles of Leave No Trace
  • A Leave No Trace quiz (if time allows)

Habitats Day

Age Range: 5th & 6th classes.

Time of Year: Any.

This study involves:

The valley of Glendalough contains many wonderful habitats – evergreen and deciduous woodlands, grasslands, rivers, lakes, bogs and heaths, and more. Our Habitats Day is designed for 5th and 6th classes and uses a simple worksheet.

  • A habitats themed treasure hunt
  • A walk to explore the habitats of Glendalough
  • A habitats debate

People walking along Boardwalk
Leaving Cert. Ecology

Study of a Habitat

Age Range:

5th & 6th Years

Time of Year:

March to October only

Designed to suit the fieldwork requirement of the Leaving Cerificate.

This study involves:

Mapping the study site, identifying five plant species and a vegetation survey – both a frequency survey and a percentage cover survey. There is also sampling and identifying invertebrates, examining invertebrate lifestyles, examining mammal tracks, bird tracks and signs. Recording climatic, edaphic, abiotic and biotic factors and conservation and National Park issues.

Junior Cert. Ecology

Deer, Goats, Wolves and the Ecology of Glendalough

Age Range:

1st, 2nd, 3rd & Transition Years

Time of Year:

March to October only

This study involves:

Examining the weather, measuring soil pH, searching for mammal tracks and signs, looking at woodland birds and their diets, collecting, identifying and studying invertebrates, identifying woodland plants, examining the structure of a woodland, looking at the problems of overgrazing by deer and goats, and the absence of a top predator and exploring woodland food webs.

Junior Cert. Geography

Human Geography Hike

Age Range:

1st, 2nd, 3rd & Transition Years

Time of Year:

Any

This study involves:

Suitable for Junior Certificate and TY students, this day involves a hike around Glendalough exploring how humans have shaped the landscape. Topics include: The National Park, tourism, woodlands and forestry, the monastic ruins, hill walking and erosion, feral goats, mining, settlement, farming and hydro-electric power.

Self-Guided River Studies

Age Range:

1st, 2nd, 3rd & Transition Years

Time of Year:

March to October only

Teachers are welcome to bring their class to do their own river study in Glendalough. However, please be aware that schools must book a date ensure that another school or the National Park Education Centre are not using the river on the day. To book your date, please call 0404 45656

Self-Guided Studies: Exploring the Geography of Glendalough

Age Range:

1st, 2nd, 3rd Years

Time of Year:

Any

This study is designed for teachers to help them lead their students through Glendalough’s geography. A worksheet examines various aspects of Glendalough’s geography, with separate modules for each. Teachers can mix and match the modules they require:

People walking along Boardwalk
Transition Year

Conservation Day

Age Range:

Any age (ideal for TY)

Time of Year:

Any

This study involves:

Our Conservation Day brings the National Park alive for visiting students as they examine and discuss the conservation issues the National Park.

A treasure hunt featuring conservation issues. A hike up onto the hills overlooking Glendalough with a National Park guide discussing conservation problems in the area. A debate. Teams must argue why their assigned group should be allowed to carry out their chosen activity in the National Park.

TY Challenge

Age Range:

Transition Year

Time of Year:

Any

Our popular TY Challenge has been designed to give Transition Year students a flavour of several disciplines.

The day includes:

A treasure hunt, bird watching, orienteering, clinometer challenge, blindfold challenge and a nature quiz.

Transition Year Work Experience

Wicklow Mountains National Park

TY Week 2023:

Taking Bookings

Wicklow Mountains National Park receives many requests for transition year work experience each year. Most of these cannot be facilitated due to the drain on staff resources. However, for one set week each year, we take on four transition year work experience students. We cannot, unfortunately, facilitate TY work experience students outside of this week.

Wicklow Mountains National Park TY Week 2023:
Dates: Monday 17th April to Friday 21st April 2023
Booking: If TY students are interested in putting their name on a list please email us (wickloweducationcentre@npws.gov.ie) with:

  • Your name
  • Contact details for a parent or responsible adult (telephone number & email address)
  • Name of school

TY Week 2023 is now fully booked

Places shall be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Programme: The students will spend time with our Conservation Rangers, our Education Team, and our Maintenance Team getting an overview of how the National park is managed.

Students will need to get themselves to our Park Headquarters near Laragh for 9:30a.m. each morning, and be collected from there at 5p.m. each afternoon.

Students need to be dressed for all weathers, and to have suitable footwear for off-track activities (preferably hiking boots or trail shoes). Students need to bring a packed lunch each day.

Please be aware that we only take 4 students per year, and only on one week.
The dates are set by us, and are not changeable.

Outreach

In the winter months, our education staff are available to visit primary schools throughout Co. Wicklow. Due to the high demand, visits are by invitation only.

To organise a visit to your school, please call the Education Centre on 0404 45656. Each school visit consists of a maximum of four one-hour sessions or class visit.

The following themes are available:

  • Irish Habitats
  • Irish Mammals
  • Irish Birds
  • Irish Bats
  • Irish Bugs
  • Irish Wildflowers
  • Irish Trees
  • Biodiversity

Events


Coniferous Tree Identification Walk

Sunday 12th February 2023 at 11am


Join a National Parks & Wildlife Service guide and discover how to identify some of the coniferous trees growing in the Upper Lake area of Glendalough. There will be an option at the end to see what is currently said to be Ireland’s tallest tree.

Duration: Approx. 90 minutes for the main walk and 20 minutes to see Ireland’s tallest tree.

Where: Meeting at the National Park Information Office, Upper Lake, Glendalough, A98R221, located 200 metres to the south of the Upper Lake car park.

Practicalities: Mostly walking on the flat valley floor along hard surfaced paths and areas of grass. However there will be some short sections of steeper, stepped and rougher ground. Dress for the outdoors and wear warm clothing, good shoes or walking boots and bring waterproofs just in case. This is a free event. Except for guide or assistance dogs, dogs are not permitted on National Park events.

Parking: (€4 per car) is available at the Co. Co. Upper Lake Car Park, A98W778.

Booking: Booking essential. To book, email wickloweducationcentre@npws.gov.ie

For more information: Phone the National Park Information Office T. 0404 45425

Star Gazing with the Irish Astronomical Society

Date: To be confirmed. Autumn.


Parking: Park at the Upper Lake Car Park (A98W778). Parking charge applies.

The Irish Astronomical Society have kindly agreed to host a start gazing event at Glendalough this autumn. However, the date shall be decided at short notice, when weather conditions are known.

If you are interested in this event, please email us. We shall send out notifications 2-3 days in advance.

Free of charge. Booking is required. This event is weather dependent. Please bring a torch and insect repellent. For more information, please phone 0404 45425.

Rut Watch

Sunday 16 October 2022 11am to 4pm


Wicklow is home to a large population of wild deer. They are particularly impressive in autumn when they ‘rut’. National Park staff shall have telescopes set up on the Spinc walking trail between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Anyone walking on this route is welcome to stop by, view the deer through the telescopes and discuss the deer and their ecology with our staff.

Location: The Spinc walking trail (white arrows), Glendalough. Participants are advised to visit to the Information Office (Upper Lake, Glendalough) to get directions to the telescopes before setting out.

Practicalities: The Spinc trail takes 3 hours. All are welcome, although the hike may be too long for young children. Please note, that participants will not be escorted on the hike. Hiking boots and rain gear are recommended. Bring binoculars if you have them. All dogs must be kept on leads. This event is free of charge, but please be aware that the Upper Lake car park (Wicklow Co. Co.) has a €4 charge.

Booking: Booking is not necessary. For more information, please phone 0404 45656 (Monday to Friday) or 0404 45425 (weekends).


Family Resources

We have designed a series of worksheets and resources for children. Each one is an A4 pdf.

To see and download each one, click on the links below.


Downloads

Dandelions Worksheet

Bumblebees Worksheet

Birds Worksheet

Trees and Shrubs Worksheet

Earthworms Worksheet

Ivy Worksheet

Ladybirds Worksheet

Nettles Worksheet

Butterflies Worksheet

Other Resources

We have a range of other resources that are suitable for all ages, including nature posters. Each one is an A4 pdf.
To see and download each one, click on the links below.


Downloads

The Deer Rut

Tree Tales – An Ogham Workbook

Recording Moths in the Park

Ground Nesting Birds in the Park