County Wicklow will again feature in RTE’s ‘Tracks & Trails’ which returns for its 10th season next week.
The first show airs on Thursday, 30th of June, featuring Lough Derg in Co Clare while Wicklow’s St Kevin’s Way and the Avonmore Way will feature on Thursday, 14th July, at 7.30pm. This year’s Wicklow presenter is Roz Purcell, cookery book author, entrepreneur and founder of The Hike Life.
“Over several years, Wicklow County Council has developed a strong and beneficial partnership with ‘Tracks & Trails'”, said Cllr Tommy Annesley, Cathaoirleach Wicklow County Council, who added: “the quality of production has helped tremendously showcasing some of Wicklow’s stunning trails to a large national audience and beyond.”
Roz, who regularly walks around Wicklow, takes viewers on two walks: The mystical St Kevin’s Way from Hollywood to Glendalough and the winding forest trail of the Avonmore Way from Glendalough to Rathdrum and the new Avondale attraction ‘Beyond the Trees’.
Part 1 St Kevin’s Way
St Kevin’s Way is a well waymarked trail in Co Wicklow notable for the little yellow monk on the waymarkers to guide walkers in the footsteps of St Kevin. It is along this 26 km trail that Roz begins her walk which will bring her the monastic settlement of Glendalough. Starting her day at Ballinagee Bridge Roz quickly hits the trail and heads off-road into a pretty and atmospheric forest which weaves through canopied and tree lined paths and alongside old stone walled fields.
Well into her rhythm now after about 3km she is delighted to arrive at St Kevin’s pools which are a hidden and magical place to discover and to take a moment here to stop. It is then, near this section of the route that Roz meets Cat, a forest bather. In a first for Roz and for ‘Tracks &Trails’ we get a wonderful introduction into forest bathing: the practice of bathing our senses in a forest. The next section which involves the only uphill stretch brings Roz to Turlough Hill and the first of two gorgeous viewpoints. With the valley laid out before her and banked on either side by rolling hills this is definitely worth a stop to appreciate the magnificent Wicklow scenery.
It is all downhill from here and as she traces her way along the path through this valley Roz walks for a while with Carol Coad who is responsible for the trails in Co Wicklow. As Roz is a keen hiker it is lovely for them to walk and chat about the development of trails that we have in this country. Roz soon gets to her last viewpoint which looks down into Glendalough Valley, a view that few people get to experience as most visitors usually come to Glendalough from the other side. With one last section of trail Roz is delighted to realise that she has come to the famous Round Tower of Glendalough, but through the back door. It is here that Roz ends her first walk.
Part 2 Avonmore Way
The Avonmore Way, as the name suggests, follows the Avonmore River along quiet, meandering peaceful paths and bohreens as far as Rathrum. Roz Purcell starts her hike with an uphill stretch from Trooperstown Wood to a short section of road with open views to the Clara Vale in front of her. Much of this well marked trail dips in and out of a number of forests but it is not a challenging hike and so it gives Roz a chance to slow down and reset.
Shortly after passing the very pretty Clara Church, Roz enters the Clara Vale Nature Reserve, a special area of conservation. This wood is flat and the paths weave their way gently through the tall trees and woodland. One of the joys of walking is that there are always surprises along the routes and unexpectedly Roz comes across a forest floor covered as far as the eye can see in a blanket of bluebells.
Further along on the paths Roz meets professional forager Geraldine Kavanagh. Geraldine is a local who has a vast knowledge of plants and wildlife. As she walks with Roz she helps her learn how to identify leaves and flowers both edible and poisonous that grow in the gardens, hedgerows and forests around us. Soon after, Roz comes to the final part of this trail at the Samuel Hayes suspension bridge just outside Rathdrum.
Roz ends her time in Co Wicklow with a visit to Avondale Estate nearby, taking a walk with Deborah Meghen from Coillte who gives her an introduction to the fascinating history of the trees grown here. With a glimpse at the new Beyond the Trees experience, Roz ends this programme urging the viewer to get out on the trails.