+353 - 1 - 4100700

A day in Glendalough

Finding nature in Glendalough

The day in Glendalough is wet and foggy but this only adds to its mysterious beauty.  There is a silence that you simply cannot find in the city. Mountains rise around the visitors centre, inviting walkers into the walking trails. From here, there are numerous walks to take aimed at serious hikers, casual hikers or those just wanting a nice jog or walk through this lovely wooded area.

One of the first sites I come across is the Glendalough Monastic Site. It was founded in the 6th century by St Kevin and has a number of historical remains. What stands out even from a distance is the 30 metre high round tower. There are plenty of ruins to explore such as St Kevin’s Kitchen, The Gateway, The Cathedral, The Priest’s House, St Kieran’s church and more.

Glendalough is set in a valley between mountains. There is spectacular scenery to enjoy as you traverse this area of natural beauty. There is an abundance of wildlife, history and archaeology to take in. The first thing you notice apart from the remarkable beauty is the silence. The only thing heard is the call of birds, the gently falling rain and the sounds of other walkers. It is unspoiled by outside noise, only the sounds of nature. In summer I imagine there would be the sound of numerous coaches arriving.  On this wintery and rainy day the crowds are thinner but they are certainly present.


Lower Lake

I was surprised by how quickly I came to the edge of the Lower Lake. The lake gently ripples as rain drops disturb its smooth surface and the trees across the lake are partly obscured from the heavy fog. I can see a few buildings across the lake nestled within the greenery; what a view they must have on a daily basis! It is so peaceful that it calms your mind. There is nothing to think about but taking in the surrounding beauty and exploring more of the walking tracks.

The walk along the path was muddy today due to the wet conditions. The only other thing I had to concentrate on was not stepping right into a puddle. The rain coat did its job and kept me dry and I did not mind the weather conditions at all. It only added to the beauty of Glendalough. At some points of the path the trees are so thick you cannot see through them and at other parts there is a clear view across the Lower Lake and the mountain backdrop.

Glendalough is well signed, there are a lot of hiking tracks and there is information available about each walk. Distance, time needed, any warnings and what can be seen on each track are clearly listed and on the map the tracks are differentiated by colour. Arrows along the way are also coloured to help walkers.

lower lake Glendalough


Upper Lake

I took the Upper Lake walk (along the Green Path) which is just 30 minutes walk each way. Arriving at the lake, it was abundantly clear that I and other walkers were standing in a valley as the mountains rose on either side of the lake. The fog lays low, thicker here at the Upper Lake. It obscures the mountain peaks and the trees as they rise in rows up the mountain. Across the water, the fog obscures part of the horizon. The dominant sound is running water. There are ducks swimming in the lake; they come close to the water’s edge, almost looking curiously at the visitors taking photographs.

The area is filled with colour – browns, reds, yellows, the light coloured reeds in the water, the light and dark greens of the mountain and trees.  It is a paradise; a mountain wilderness you have to see to believe. It’s a necessary part of the experience to stand still and just use your senses to take in every part of gorgeous Glendalough.

It’s still raining and the drops are making rings appear on the water’s surface. If there was only one word able to be used to describe the lake and walking paths of Glendalough, there are many that would apply. If I had to choose just one, it would be peaceful. It is a peaceful place to escape from city life, to become one with nature and enjoy what Ireland’s abundant greenery has to offer.

I was interrupted from these peaceful thoughts by one of the ducks making itself heard, reminding everyone within earshot of his presence. The ducks show no fear; one practically came right up to me as I crouched near the water’s edge to take a photograph. It is a place that makes you want to stay and take in the view one more time.

upper lake Glendalough


Poulanass Waterfall

As I walked back to the large information sign, I saw I could take the trail to my right to see the Poulanass Waterfall. The trail started with a steep climb and the ascent of stairs to the flowing waterfall making its winding journey between the crevices of the mountain. Water gushed over the rocks and fell into the rock pools below, creating a serene environment.


As I walked back along the Green Path I saw a tiny movement out of the corner of my eye. A tiny goldfinch was hopping along the leaves at the edge of the mountain path as if dancing a jig. It was so small it almost blended into the mixture of brown, green and yellow leaves. Many of these tiny birds flitted in and out of the bushes; sudden appearances that make you do a double take. Coming from Australia, sudden wildlife appearances are not always a good thing but Ireland is not home to snakes, it’s instead home to these beautiful little goldfinches and many other species of birds that can be found in Glendalough.

Glendalough Mines

Accessible from the National Park are the Glendalough Mines and the Miner’s Village. Mining in this area can be dated back to the 1790’s. Lead, zinc and silver were mined here as well as in the neighbouring valley called Glendasan. It was an industry that was constant for some 150 years, proving employment in the local area. Mining at the Glendalough Mine continued until 1957 and today ruins from the mines and accommodation of the miners are able to be seen by visitors. The ruins of the mines are only accessible on foot.

Glendalough Visitors Centre

The Glendalough Visitors centre is excellent for getting advice about what to see and do in the area and in particular about the walking tracks. Suggestions are made based on what you want to see and how far you would like to walk. Inside the centre for a small fee, you can see an interesting exhibition about the history of Glendalough and an audio-visual show about Ireland’s monasteries.

From my trip to Glendalough, I take away the stunning scenery; the colours of the mountain; the greenery of the woods; the unspoiled area; and the way Glendalough inspired and calmed me. There is a mysterious beauty here, an area filled with surprises and spectacular views.

Back to top ↑

Connect with DayTours.ie


Tourism Office
37 College Green
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 86 3169788
Email: info@daytours.ie