Wicklow Mountains National Park
This area comprises most of the Wicklow Mountains and surrounding uplands. The contains mountain peaks, green valleys formed by Ice Age glaciers and river action, blanket bogs, lakes and pools, streams and waterfalls. Vegetation consists of heathland, upland meadows, coniferous and deciduous forest. There are many plant species, including a number of species of carnivorous Sundews (Drosera), Butterworths (Pinguicula) and aquatic Bladderworths (Utricularia).
Because this is such a large area the Wicklow Mountains National Park is home to many species of plant and animal. Larger fauna included are Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), Sika Deer (Cervus nippon) and Fallow Deer (Dama dama). Many of the deer are actually hybrid form of Red and Sika Deer, due to the fact that both are in reality the same species, although classified seperately based on appearance alone.
Wild Goats (capra hircus) are also extremely common and quite easy to get close to for photographic purposes.
Carnivores include the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), European Badger (Meles meles), Irish Stoat (Mustela erminea), and the rare Pine Marten (Martes martes). European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and Irish Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus ) are extremely common and can be viewed from many of the roads, paths and tracks above the valleys.
There are many fascinating bird species in this area. Especially significant are the Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus) found in the upland heathers, Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis), Skylark (Alauda arvensis), Raven (Corvus corax), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Hobby (Falco subbuteo), Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) and Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra). The lakes are especially good area for observing thedramatic courtship displays of Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus).
Viviparous Lizards (Lacerta vivipara) can often be seen basking on the many sunny, rocky areas of the mountains. The Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris) can be found in some of the lower valleys, and Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) can be found throughout the National Park, except on the higher mountain slopes.
How to get there:
Because this is such a large area there is no one way of getting to this National Park. Glendalough is at the very centre of the park, and the park headquarters are located there. However, there is no public transport to this area.
Dublin Bus does have a service running quite close to the park. The 185 bus from Bray Station to Shop River will bring hikers quite close to the area of the park around the Powerscourt Estate.
The best method of accessing the park on short-visits is to take a private tour bus from Dublin to Glendalough and explore the areas around this site. The ideal method of visiting the park is to go by car, but most of the park is off-road.
Those hiking the Wicklow Way get to see the entire park, which this walkway spans.
In winter, during periods of snow, it is best to avoid the National Park as many of the roadways up to this area can become completely cut off for days. Temperatures can drop extremely quickly at night time, and it is extremely easy to get lost during times of inclement weather.