Walking in Glendalough - Ireland's Ancient East

Posted by Neil Hand on the 24th of April 2015 at 13:01:54

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I recently visited one of the main attractions of Ireland’s Ancient East: The wonderfulGlendalough, in County Wicklow. In addition to the stunning natural beauty of the location, the area is also steeped in history. A monastic site was founded there in the 6th Century, the ruins of which remain to this day. The most impressive and iconic of these structures is a 30m high round tower, a landmark synonymous with Glendalough.

Glendalough is a walkers paradise, providing of course you don’t do as my partner and I did on our recent visit and bite off a little more than you can chew. Get some advice about the walking routes available before you set off, as you can find yourself (as we did) having walked for hours and still have hours of walking remaining in order to get back to your car.

It was a glorious, unseasonably warm day in the first week of April when we decided to head for Glendalough. Our sense of direction (both combined and individually) is often found lacking, and true to form we missed the main turnoff for Glendalough. There wasn’t any time constraints on us, so we were able to laugh it off as we added an extra 40 minutes to our trip (which was expected to take around 50 minutes in total, coming from South Dublin). Approaching Glendalough, however, traffic was heavy and barely moving at all.

When we’d nearly reached the carpark at Glendalough Visitor Centre, we decided to give up due to traffic and expected lack of parking and took a side road away from our plans. A short drive along this side road, we happened upon a small carpark which looked down into Glendalough, pulled in and away we went. We walked down the valley, following a meandering stream, over rocks and boulders, dusty trails and paths. About 30 minutes later we were at the Visitor Centre at Glendalough (the main entrance and car-park of the site).

We decided to follow the White Route (guide to walks in Glendalough), which ascends steeply through cooling, fragrant forest to the top and then along the edge of the valley. This is quite a rigorous walk and takes about 3 and ½ to 4 hours to complete, but my aforementioned unreliable sense of direction led me to believe that our car would be parked half-way along the route at the far end of the valley, toward which we were headed.

Long story (and walk) short, it wasn’t just a case of following the trail to the far end of the valley and jumping back in our car. I had become confused, and I had my valleys mixed up. The valley we were looking for was a neighbouring one. And so… Once we’d found our car we had been walking for more than 5 hours. We had drank refreshing cool water from fast-flowing streams to quench our thirst. We had not stopped for ice-cream as I’d forgotten my wallet. But we were enriched with the magic of Ireland’s Ancient East.

Go to Glendalough, ramble in the hills and woods but make sure you’re rambling on the trail you want to be on. Contact us today to arrange getting to Glendalough, Ireland’s Ancient East, and beyond!

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