Wicklow Head & Reef

20. Wicklow Head

Sea cliffs and heathland

Map reference: T3492 Nearest town: Wicklow

Lean on the old stone wall around the lighthouse compound and listen to the echoing calls of seabirds as they come and go from their cliff ledges. The views from here stretch to Dublin and Arklow Head.

Landscape: This is the most easterly point of land in the Republic of Ireland and a strong tidal current passes the headland. The present lighthouse is the most recent of three towers which stand on the head. The distinctive outline ofWickiow Head is visible from most other parts of the Wicklow coast. The rock is mainly mica schist which is highly folded and contorted forming sea arches and caves. North of the lighthouse two small storm beaches face in opposite directions Bride's Head.

Habitats: Sea cliffs, storm beaches, maritime grassland and heathland are the main habitats. Typical clifftop vegetation of the spray zone is ted by cushions of thrift, sea campion and common scurvy grass. On the flatter parts, maritime grassland is maintained by light grazing and plants such as red fescue and spring squill are common.Away from the salt spray, rough grassland and heathland predominate, with heather, gorse, bramble and bracken forming the main vegetation in areas which are not intensively farmed. At intervals on the clifftop small wet flushes occur. These contain many wetland plants including lady's smock.

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