“The valley of the two lakes” is know for is beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and archaeology. This is the place you want to head to if you need a quiet place to still your mind after the hustle of bustle of city life in Dublin. Glendalough Valley is located in Wicklow Mountains National Park, which is situated south of Dublin, and has so much to do and see, that it will entice and entertain all day.
Probably one of the most popular places to visit would be the Glendalough Monastic Sites. The main site is know as the Monastic City and it is located right beside the visitor center. This site contains ruins that are inching up towards 1000 years old. Take a walk through the Monastic city, entrance is free and the ruins of The Gateway, The Round Tower, and The Cathedral are a short walk away from each other.
Everyone walks through The Gateway to get into the Monastic City. You will get a chance to see the cross inscribed stone and the original stone pathways. From there walking through a cemetery you will see The Round Tower that is 30 meters high. The Round Tower’s roof had fallen and was rebuilt in 1876 however they did use the original stone for the rebuild. From there move on to The Priest’s House or St. Kevin’s Kitchen. There is quite a few ruins in the Monastic City to see before moving onto the nature trails or walking trails of the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
A quick note, the monastic sites are located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park however they are managed by the OPW (Office of Public Works). There is not entrance fee for the monastic sites and all sites are open all the time even if the car park is closed.
Wicklow Mountains National Park also has over 8 trails ranging for a 30 minute walk to a 4 hour walk winding around the upper and lower lake. Do not forget good hiking shoes and a rain jacket or poncho as the trail tends to be very muddy and the rain comes and goes. I recommend starting with the Poulanass and St. Kevin’s Cell trail. This is about a 30 minute moderate walk and you are able to see St. Kevin’s Cell and a scenic Upper Lake overlook. There is also a 40 minutes walk that takes you to a waterfall.
Before you head back to the city, I do suggest picking up a coffee to go from the Glendalough Hotel’s bar. Or if you want a quick beer or bite to eat the food is decent as well.
If you did not rent a car there is still a way to get out and enjoy a peaceful day. Transportation in Ireland doesn’t not always mean a car. We actually took a tour out to Glendalough, but more on that later.