When a person familiar with Ireland hears the word “Wicklow,” mountain peaks, glacial valleys, and stunning lakes come to mind. Wicklow is a beautiful part of the Emerald Isle and just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Dublin. This makes it perfect for day touring. From the Glendalough Monastic Site, to the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens, to hiking in the mountains themselves, Wicklow has so much to offer. I got to see a few of the key sites on my day trip around the area and can’t wait to go back and see more.
Avoca Mill, Garden, and Cafe was the first stop on my day spent wandering Wicklow. Avoca is a household name in Ireland. Each Avoca locale features anything from food & flower markets, to shops filled with local Irish wares, to stunning estate-esk gardens. The Avoca Mill is where the famous hand-woven wool throws, rugs, and scarves are produced and dates back to 1723. It is said to be Ireland’s oldest working mill. While tours of the mill are free, our time was limited so I wasn’t able to check it out. But, it is 100% still on my list of things to do in Ireland. I did, however, indulge and purchase a Mahon Lambswool Throw for the apartment. I also had a lovely pear and honey scone with a cup of tea for breakfast – they are hard to pass up on an Avoca visit 😉
Up next was a scenic drive thru Wicklow National Park. It’s famous for the mountain topography, part of which are the mountain blanket bogs: when the sun and wind dance across them, it’s magic. Between the mountains are a number of valleys – most notably Glenmacnass, Glenmalure and Glendalough – as well as lakes, Lough Bray Upper and Lower, and Lough Tay. For cinema fans, a few notable films have shot scenes in the Wicklow mountains as well, one of which is P.S. I Love You. The Wicklow Mountains are where the main characters of the film, Holly and Gerry, first met: pics of where that fateful interaction was filmed are below. Also pictured is Sally Gap where battle scenes from the epic movie Braveheart were filmed along with scenes from the hit TV show, Vikings. #irelandmoviescenes
It is alleged that Lough Tay, along with Glendalough, is one of the most photographed locations in Wicklow. Lough Tay was our next stop in the Wicklow mountains. It lies on the Guinness Estate. Rumor has it, one can stay at the estate house for 10,000 Euro a night, and, the likes of Michael Jackson and Bono have taken advantage. As you’ll see below, the beach on the northern side of the lake is made up of bright white sand that was imported by the Guinness family. If you take a closer look, the shape of the lake (along with its brown color) with the white sand at the top makes it look almost like a pint of Guinness. Guinness is truly everywhere in Ireland y’all ;).
Our final stop of the day was the Glendalough Monastic Site and Lough Bray Upper and Lower. What an enchanting place. The monastic ruins are what remains of an early medieval settlement founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century (built up over time by other religious parties as well). Some of the burial grounds and what remain of Saint Kevin’s Church, the nave of the old Cathedral, and the Round Tower are pictured below.
From the ruins, one can hike to the lower and upper lakes. Fun fact: Glendalough means glen of two lakes in Gaelic. I opted for the overpass hike as there was more scenery and far fewer people. It was gorgeous. Passing over rushing streams and hiking into picturesque woods, I was totally overwhelmed with how perfect it was. And the two lakes, wow. The water is clear as can be – if it wasn’t chilly outside, I would have loved to hop in and go for a swim. And, the mountains surrounding them make for the perfect backdrop. You’ll see pics of the overpass hike, as well as the lower and upper lakes below. Simply gorgeous.
Wicklow: what a place. I have yet to explore Powerscourt Estate and Gardens, but, have heard that it’s worth the trip. I may wait until spring to wander there as the budding trees and flowers will make for fantastic photos. If you have a chance to explore Wicklow while in Ireland, you should. It encompasses the mix of romantic and wild that one tends to picture when thinking of the Emerald Isle. Until next time, sláinte!