Skip to main content

“Lá Lúnasa ag faobhar an Fhómhair ritheann abhainn tríd an bhforais.”

Nature & Conservation


 

Wicklow Mountains National Park and its habitats are protected by law. In addition to these laws, there are certain guidelines that must be followed to ensure that all visitors enjoy their visit.

 

Wicklow Mountains National Park
Wicklow Mountains National Park stretches across almost 23,000 hectares south of Dublin. The largest of Ireland’s National Parks and the only one in the east, Wicklow features wide-open vistas, winding mountain roads and fast-flowing streams that descend into the deep lakes of the wooded valleys, including St Kevin’s monastic settlement at Glendalough.

Discover how you can help us conserve the park’s biodiversity and landscape, or plan your visit to explore the uplands on a hike or scenic drive. A true flavour of Ireland’s ancient wilderness awaits you in the park.

Protect Nature

Thank you for helping us protect nature at Wicklow Mountains National Park. When you enjoy responsible outdoor recreation here, you help us preserve the unique creatures and habitats of the Wicklow Mountains.

Useful Tips

Plan Ahead

Think about the best time to visit and how you’ll travel here, to minimise your environmental impact. Check the weather and make sure you have everything you need to bring.

Be Considerate

Be aware of how your activities and behaviour can impact nature, the experience of other visitors and those working here. Be mindful of any noise you make and how you interact with others along the way.


Respect Wildlife

Dogs are very welcome but must stay on the lead. If you can, avoid sensitive times for wildlife nesting and breeding.

Travel and Camp on Durable Ground

The marked trails let you take in all the best parts of the Glenveagh wilderness. Only experienced hikers should venture into the hills. Only Wilderness Camping is permitted: review the guidelines here.


Leave What You Find

Do take photographs of the landscape and plants, but please leave even the smallest details untouched, so others can enjoy the Glenveagh wilderness just as you did.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Litter is a huge threat to nature. By bringing your waste home, you help protect the park and its wildlife, and keep Glenveagh healthy.


Minimise the effect of fire

We can’t allow fires of any kind in our national parks. Fires can cause lasting impacts and devastate plants and animals. Talk to our rangers or Education staff if you need advice, and check our Wilderness Camping guide for details.

Walking & Hiking

Walkers are welcome. Please wear suitable footwear (hiking boots are recommended). Events with more than 50 people require a permit.



Protected Species

Ireland’s species and habitats are protected under a range of national and EU legislation. The Wildlife Act, 1976, is the principal national legisaltion providing for the protection of wildlife and the control of some activities that may adversely affect wildlife.

The Protected Species list is not exclusive. Other rare and protected species may also occur within the park.

Flora


Here in Wicklow Mountains National Park, we have a variety of species, from heathers and gorse dominating the mountain sides to bogland species such as sundews.

Habitats

Wicklow Mountains National Park supports a number of important habitat types, ranging from blanket bog and oak woodland to corrie lakes and old lead mine workings. Wet and dry heath, blanket bog and upland grassland are the dominant habitats throughout most of the National Park. Soils are acidic, usually peaty. Typical plants include heathers, bilberry and grasses in the drier areas, with sphagnum mosses and insectivorous sundews in the boggier areas of the National Park.


Woodlands


Small areas of oak woodland occur on the slopes of Glendalough and Glenmalure, near Lough Tay and Lough Dan, with native sessile oak (Quercus petraea), many of which are 100-120 years old.
On wetter areas, wet broadleaved semi-natural woodlands occur, dominated by downy birch (Betula pubescens). There’s also mixed woodland, with non-native tree species.

Lakes and Streams


Mountain loughs and corrie lakes are scattered throughout the site, often with adjourning scree cliffs. The lakes tend to be deep and nutrient poor but hold some interesting plants, including quillwort (Isoetes lacustris) and floating bur-reed (Sparganium angustifolium). Rocky mountain streams are common throughout the hills.


Liffey Head Bog

Liffey Head Bog

Liffey Head Bog covers a large area between the mountains of Djouce, Tonduff and Kippure. It is one of the best examples of an actively growing mountain blanket bog in Ireland, and is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Several rivers start their journey here, including the Liffey, the Dargle, and the Dodder, making this bog vital for Dublin’s water supply. At first glance Liffey Head Bog can look featureless and devoid of life. But a close inspection will reveal a matrix of dry hummocks and wet flushes, each with their own flora and fauna. Small insectivorous plants such as sundews are common.

Fauna


Here in Wicklow Mountains National Park, we have special species, such as such as peregrine falcon, merlin, goosanders, whinchat, red grouse and pine marten.


Many bird species live in the Wicklow Mountains, although they can be hard to spot in the vast expanses of mountain bog or the dense foliage of the woodlands. Species of particular interest include merlin, goosander, whinchat and red grouse.

One notable bird to spot is the peregrine falcon, which is the symbol of the National Park.

Other birds to watch out for include great spotted woodpecker, rare summer visitors such as wood warbler and the redstart, as well as snipe, skylark and stonechat.


Mammals such as rabbits, hares, foxes, goats, badgers, pine marten, stoats, and otter can be found in the park. The park is also home to at least nine species of bats, which are often observed at night.

Deer are the largest mammals in the Park. A large population of Red-Sika hybrids live in the hills. Sika deer were introduced from Asia in the past, and have hybridised freely with our native Red deer.


Due to location and climate, Ireland has a limited number of reptile and amphibian species. Just one species of frog (the Common Frog), one species of newt (the Smooth Newt) and one species of reptile (the Common Lizard) live in the National Park.

Butterfly Safari

Ireland has 35 species of butterfly. Many of these can be spotted within Wicklow Mountains National Park, making it the perfect place for a butterfly safari.

You can start your safari in Glendalough. The lawns and woodland edges near the Upper Lake, the Wildlife and Sensory garden behind the National Park Information Office, and the Miners’ Village are great places to look. Here are some of the more unique species you might see.

Speckled Wood Butterfly

Some Common Species of Butterfly

Other species that you can see in the National Park include speckled wood, meadow brown, ringlet, green-veined white, orange tip, small and large whites, holly blue, peacock, small tortoiseshell, red admiral and painted lady. There have also been recent sightings of comma, a relatively new species to Ireland.

Geology


At over 600m, the Wicklow Mountains form the largest upland area in Ireland. Of its 27 peaks, Lugnaquilla is the highest at 925m, followed by Mullaghcleevaun (849m) and Tonelagee (815m).

The uplands consist of a core of granite, flanked by metamorphic schists. The granite was extruded over 500 million years ago as two tectonic plates collided. The classic u-shaped valleys of Glendalough and Glenmalure, and the park’s high corrie lakes, moraines, erratics and hanging valleys, were all formed as a result of glacier movement during the Ice Age.