A rock throw away from Dublin are the Wicklow mountains, one of the most visited touristic locations. These mountains contain dozens of lakes, but one of the most famous locations is Glendalough. Its’ ancient neolithic buildings attract hundred thousands of tourists each year. Another big tourist attraction are the two lakes near the village. They are named the lower and upper lake, those names do not exactly receive a price for originality if you ask me. However, they illustrate perfectly where the lakes are located. The upper lake is situated in a valley which was created during the last glacial period. At the end of the lake is an abandoned miner’s village where mining took place until the 1950s. Another way that you might be familiar with the name Glendalough is the identically named distillery. The main alcohols that Glendalough distills are Whiskey and Gin. So, whether you like culture or nature, this place has it all!
Our arrival in Glendalough
We drove through the magnificent landscape to end up at Glendalough where it was incredibly busy, even for a Saturday. There were people walking along each side of the road. They had numbers attached to their front and back. “Oh no, what is going on here”, is what we thought. Driving further showed us what was really happening, a marathon. From the village center, all the way to the upper lake car park was traffic. It took about an hour until we parked and were ready to go. But the view when we stepped out of the car was totally worth it. We were extremely lucky with amazing weather, that made everything even better.
If you have plenty of time to spend (more than 3 hours) then you can walk your way around the lake. However, if time is limited you have two options, you can start along the north side of the lake. This path stays on the level of the lake, so not much climbing is required. The second option is starting in the south. This side takes you up the mountain first. It is one big path that loops around, so if you want to take the whole path, make sure you arrive early! There are many more paths to take, check out the website of the Wicklow Mountains National Park for all walking routes.
The lake side of the path
After getting out the car we walked over to the lake, which was surprisingly clear. Plenty of people were sunbathing on the rocky beach and some children were even swimming. I dipped my fingers into the water but quickly pulled them back as the water was still very cold. After this, we walked to start of the path. This path is built to support big amounts of people and even cars. This walk was a bit too quiet for us, so we decided to take the path along the edge of the lake. This path is much more adventurous, you need good shoes for it as there are roots and rocks everywhere. Another reason that we took that route was walking in the sun. There are plenty of nice viewing points along this edge of the lake, so you stop at any point and observe the beautiful nature.
After we walked for half an hour, the forest opened up. Slowly the lake came to a marsh which is fed by a river that flows from the mountains. You will reach an abandoned miner’s village if you continue walking. Some old collapsed buildings and the remains of cogs are scattered. Do watch out when walking around as these buildings can collapse at any time. At this point, we decided to walk back to the car as it started to get late. But you can continue this path, it will go up to the top of the hills and wind back to the car park.
Perfect place for a day away
When we arrived back at the car park, we bought a well-deserved ice cream and relaxed at the lake. You can spend your whole day (and evening) at this lake as you are allowed to BBQ here. Our time here was too short because we couldn’t go up and there is another path to goes back to the village of Glendalough. We will definitely come back here when the weather allows it! Check out a full route description here.
Here are other stunning shots from Glendalough