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Written by David Walsh   
Thursday, 20 May 2010 14:03

Wicklow Head Lighthouse

T235-924 Sheet 56

Wicklow Head is a serious attraction to E coast paddlers in search of truly powerful sea forces in a full-blooded open water environment, yet with sanctuary nearby. On the head is a huge lighthouse, amongst the most powerful on the East coast. There are cliffs and caves on both sides. There is a pronounced eddy system either side of the head itself, and guaranteed playtime except for the shortest of slacks. On passage, err with caution to get past efficiently, as this is undoubtedly one of the most significant headlands of the southern part of the E coast.


At Wicklow Head, the N going flood starts earlier than on the Dublin/North Wicklow coast further N. The flood tide runs from Dublin HW +0345 to -0115 approximately. Downstream, expect long powerful run-offs. It is always possible to rest in eddies in the lee of the head, except when the wind is from the eastern quadrant.

Inshore tides all along the Wicklow and Wexford coasts generally follow the direction of the coast, and information on timing is unreliable. From Wicklow Head to Arklow, the flood is thought to run up to 3 knots in springs and the ebb at 1 knot.

Off Wicklow Head itself where big boats go, the flood is up to 4 knots, and the ebb 3 knots, but close by the rocks where kayaks go, the current gets seriously fast. Local paddlers say 6 knots, both ways. Bride?s Head at T339-931 is 1km N of Wicklow Head, and on the ebb, the flow can be almost as strong there.

From Wicklow Harbour to Wicklow Head, the tide close inshore always runs SE. On the ebb, it runs strongly at up to 3 knots. On the flood, a major eddy system operates. Local paddlers report considerable struggles close inshore in springs. Going N, keep in the bumpy main flow for 1km at least and then keep at least 1km offshore until Wicklow Harbour.

Going S, on the other side of Wicklow Head, keep in the main flow as long as you can. A weaker eddy system operates, almost as far as Long Rock at Silver Strand at T338-910.


Access to the head is usually from Wicklow town as described above, but if a launching from S is preferred, there are several awkward choices. Public access is always available from Brittas Bay, but this is 10km to the S. Closer access points involve an awkward carry down steep steps to a beach. Magheramore beach at T330-884 is loved by surfers, especially on a low tide with a sustained wind from the S/SSE. Access by car is now disputed, though available, but please close the entrance gate at T324-886. The access at Silver Strand at T337-911 is the most reliable, at least in summer, and closest. The road access at T336-914 is through the more northerly of two paying caravan parks above the beach. It involves a cruelly steep carry down long steps and a (seemingly) much longer carry back up later. Camping is possible and the surroundings are pleasant. This is a famous fishing spot, and there is friendly surf on the beach for playing in. It may be closed in wintertime.


Peregrine, Merlin.

Text reproduced from Oileáin by kind permission of the author, David Walsh. Text was extracted from Oileáin (online edition) on 4th May 2010.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 June 2010 19:36

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