1st Stop in Ireland: Glendalough
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
For some peace and tranquility, this is the place to visit... unless it's one of the hottest days of the year, then watch out.
I LOVE Glendalough. Any time I visit the Wicklow, I stop here. I really wanted Ash to experience this place too, so as soon as we picked up our rental car from the Dublin Airport we drove an hour down the coast towards the mountains.
Glendalough is a 6th century Christian monastery founded by St. Kevin (all information is pulled from this website, so please credit them... and click the link for even more info!). Normally, the area is quiet. There usually aren't a lot of people visiting, giving one the ability to walk around peacefully while exploring the ancient graves, buildings, and ruins. Today was different though. Ireland was experiencing a heat wave, so everyone took this opportunity to be outside... and what better place to experience the warm weather than in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains?
Ash and I were at a dead stop in our car about a half mile out from the entrance. The parking lot was full and a line of cars had formed. We waited and waited, and right when we were coming to terms with the fact that we might not be visiting Glendalough this trip, the parking lot opened, and they began letting more cars in. Stress levels high, we parked our car and walked to the entrance of the monastery. If there is one piece of advice I can give you, its not to visit Glendalough on a nice day. Check the weather and look for an overcast day, because tranquility and peace is not what you will find when the sun is out and the temps are high.
Although much of our exploration was interrupted by swarms of people who really just wanted to do the same thing as us, we still had a great time seeing the old structures. Some of the cool things you will find in the monastic city include the Round Tower, St. Kevin's Kitchen, church ruins, and ancient grave after ancient grave. It really is incredibly beautiful. From Glendalough, there are a couple of options- all include a bit of walking.
Visiting the website mentioned above, you will find a variety of hikes lasting anywhere from 1-6 hours. Because Ash and I still had to drive three hours south to the city of Cork, we chose to do a shorter hike to the Upper Lake. There are two routes we had the option of taking. The first was a boardwalk hike in the middle of the marshes- Gorgeous, I highly recommend it. The second is a pathway hike at the base of the mountains- also very pretty. We decided that we would take the boardwalk hike out and the pathway hike back.
The upper lake was surrounded by large peat-covered hills and thick tree groves. Its glassy water lapped over a rocky beach utilized primarily by dogs running after sticks that were tossed by their owners. Families picnicked on the grassy knoll overlooking the valley. Altogether it was extremely picturesque, and not surprising that so many people came out to enjoy the day. Ash and I got our photos in, and after some time viewing the scenery we made our way back to the car.
Visiting Glendalough, we could feel the ancient happenings that went on here so many years ago. It is a pretty special place, and one that I could explore again and again... just as long as it's not sunny and warm. Have you visited the Wicklow Mountains? Experienced any of the other hikes? We would love to hear about it and welcome you to drop us a line!
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