Touring County Wicklow
20 June, 2016
If you have the chance to go to Dublin, we recommend you set aside a few extra days to go on some outings in its environs, where magnificent scenery and picturesque villages await you. While a few posts ago we recommended taking the DART, the rapid rail transit system which plies the Dublin coast, to visit some of the beautiful villages there, today we propose a getaway to County Wicklow, which lies south of the Irish capital. You may well wonder what is so special about this region that you ought to extend your stay and devote some extra time to it. Well – nature walks, Celtic legends, lakes, waterfalls, mansions, historic heritage and a large dose of magic. How do you feel about that? Well worth it, isn’t it? Here, then, are some pointers to touring the area and a rundown of the venues you shouldn’t miss.
The Garden of Ireland
The splendid Wicklow Mountains National Park is one of the county’s major attractions. Situated just 30 kilometres from Dublin, it contains an area of approximately 20,000 hectares. Known as the “Garden of Ireland” for its size, variety and beautiful plant life, it is the favourite getaway destination for weekend trippers from Dublin, who go there to enjoy its natural surroundings or to do sport, such as trekking, cycling, fishing and white-water rafting.
The standout feature of this nature reserve are the Wicklow Mountains, which traverse it from north to south. The highest peak is Lugnaquilla, which rises to 925 metres, followed by Mullaghcleevaun at 847 metres and Kippure at 757 metres. Other landmarks include the river Slaney, which runs through the mountain range for a distance of 72 kilometres, and lakes like Lough Tay – also known as Guinness – as a stretch of its shoreline forms part of an estate belonging to the family that make the popular beverage.
The best way to enjoy this lovely park is to venture along the roads that cross it as they will lead you to the multi-faceted slopes carved out by nature here. It is a veritable gift on the eyes and one of the best ways to discover the Irish countryside.
One of the highlights of touring this area is discovering some of its historical vestiges – like Glendalough, a monastic settlement located in the Wicklow Mountains. Founded in the 6th century by St Kevin, and built mainly in the 8th and 9th centuries, it has endured until the present despite assaults by the Vikings and having been sacked by the English. As its name indicates, Glendalough – meaning “Valley of Two Lakes” in Gaelic – is a historical complex located in a valley with two lakes. The area around the Upper Lake features most of the surviving buildings, while the Lower Lake area has fewer remains. They are, however, older and are all related in some way to the life of St Kevin. The way the stone constructions – often in a state of ruin – are set in the natural surroundings is really stunning and makes an excursion to the site well worth your while.
Other interesting sights in County Wicklow are some of the stately mansions, such as Avondale House, the birthplace and home of Charles Stewart Parnell, and Powerscourt House with its magnificent gardens, completed between 1858 and 1875, which are among the finest gardens in Ireland.
Be amazed by the magic of this marvellous Irish county located less than hour from Dublin – book your Vueling now!
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by Claire Gribbin
20 June, 2016