Glendalough, the valley of the two lakes, in County Wicklow, is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The upper lake, nestled in a steep, wooded valley is breathtakingly beautiful and the whole area is excellent for walkers of all abilities.
What's more, Glendalough is also an important historical site, having been a large monastic settlement since St. Kevin first came to the area in the 6th Century. Around the lakes are numerous beautiful historical monuments (some originating from as far back as the 10th century).
Glendalough deserves far more than a brief visit. We spent an entire day exploring and savouring it, and we still didnt see everything. We went back the following evening just to sit quietly at the upper lake and enjoy it some more.
Access to the Glendalough area is free, except for the visitor centre which charges a small fee to see the exhibition and a short video. If you are short of time I would suggest you skip the visitor centre (maybe pick up one of their leaflets) and make the most of the lakes and monastic city.
The nearby village of Laragh has lots of B&B's to choose from.
Ashford village is very pretty. At first sight, there isnt much to it, but once you start exploring the nearby woods and the Varty river, it's picture-perfect. Also Mount Usher gardens are also very beautiful.
There was the time almost 10 years ago now, when my mother and I were walking around Ashford one day and decided to have a look at the local agricultural market.
All well and good until we decided to pop into the cattle auction to sit down and rest. We were just sitting there talking away, whilst the auctioneer took our head-nodding and gesticulating as bids for the cattle! I noticed the farmers were really glaring & fuming at us for driving up the prices!!! :)
Powerscourt Waterfall is less than 1 hour drive from Dublin.
You pay about €3 to see it. I don't agree with this, I resent having to pay to see a natural resource, cos there is nothing else there apart from the waterfall.
Gleann Dá Loch, the Valley of the Two Lakes, makes an excellent day trip from Dublin. The site can be reached by bus or car (see my Transportation Tip) and access is free of charge (exception: Visitor Centre - see below).
The Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre is open daily between 09.30 - 17.00hrs mid Oct-mid March (till 18.00hrs from mid March-mid Oct).
Admission fee (approx.) EUR2.50, discounts (children/students etc.) may apply.
The main attraction at Glendalough is the medieval monastery founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century AD. The remains of a traditional round tower, a cathedral, a priest's house and a church can still be seen, as well as the graveyard with many celtic crosses.
The lakes and the rest of the site
As the name appropriately suggests, Glendalough has two lakes: the Lower Lake and the Upper Lake. The most spectacular views can be got at the Upper Lake, but it does take a long walk to get there...
The area surrounding the lakes is perfect for a picknick (weather permitting ;-)) or a (photo) trek, but please, please make sure that the only thing you leave behind are your footsteps!!
Avoca is a small village just a few miles inland from the Irish Sea coastal town of Arklow. It was made famous as the location for the BBC TV series 'Ballykissangel' about the trials and tribulations of a Catholic priest and his feelings for the young lady who runs Fitzgerald's pub. Because we were fans of the series, that was our main reason for having a look! That being said, it was quite enjoyable to be able to stroll around such a small village with very few other tourists milling about and just taking in the Irish atmosphere! In the photo, the Stone Bridge leading into town can be seen at the right. It leads to both Fitzgerald's (yellowish building) and the Avoca Cafe (white) at the end of the bridge.
Visit Glendalough with it's two lovely lakes in the mountains and the early Christian monastic site.
Glendalough is probably my favourite spot in Wicklow and I used to go there quite regularly. There are numerous walks around the lakes and in the mountains. There's also an ancient monastic site with a very interesting history.
You can visit Avoca where the BBC series Ballykissangel was filmed. Since the TV series the town has exploded from a no-show to a big tourist hotspot.
I've never seen Ballykissangel so to me the twon was rather boring.
Powerscourt Estate near Enniskerry has some beautiful formal gardens with the Sugarloaf Mountain as a backdrop. Some movies have been shot here, the latest being "The Count of Monte Christo" with Guy Pearce. Don´t miss the pet cemetery where not only cats and dogs are buried, but also horses and cattle, and the inscriptions make interesting reading. The shop in the Visitor Centre sells absolutely delicious bread!
Visit the Blessington Lake if you're interesting in fishing. It's an artificial lake, but dont let that stop you :). There's nothing much in Blessington though, but it's a good starting point for rambling around the Wicklow Mountains
Avondale House, Rathdrum - where the famous Irish politician Charles Stuart Parnell was brought up. He was the guy who set the ball rolling for Irish independance from England back in the 1890s.
The grounds of the house are very beautiful, especially in autumn and I suppose if you are interested in Irish history, you might find the house tour about Parnell's life interesting
Glendalough (The Valley of the Two Lakes) is famous for its medieval monastic settlement, founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. The scenery there is absolutely beautiful and you should definitely take the time to go for a walk. Most tourists just stay for a stroll around the graveyard and to the lakes, but there is a very nice long walk which goes up the mountain past a waterfall and you get brilliant views from up there down into the valley. Again, as with so many of the main tourist attractions in Ireland, it might well be overcrowded during the summer months. Try to go there first thing in the morning, but I have said that about other places as well, and I suppose you can´t be everywhere at that time of day. For more pics have a look at my travelogue.
Artificial lake up the Wicklow mountains, very scenic (apart from that Reservoir part)
You can fish there as well, but you have to get permission.
Part of the Powerscourt estate includes the highest waterfall in Ireland - or perhaps even the Brittish Isles (but don't quote me on that).
Go see the magnificent mansion of the Slazenger family. There's a brilliant restaurant and stunning gardens.
You can easily occupy yourself at this delightful place for a few hours.
Newtownmountkennedy, County Wicklow, 2a, Ireland
Good for: Solo
Strand Road, Bray, Ireland
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
Vale of Avoca, Co Wicklow, Ireland, Arklow, County Wicklow, Ireland
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families