Lough Tay, also known as The Guinness Lake, is not filled with the black stuff however it is one of Wicklow’s most photographed landscapes because it looks like a pint of plain.
Given its name for the sheer white sand at its northern tip, the best view can be captured from Military Road. The lake itself is on the privately owned Luggala Estate. The stunning scenery of the Lake surrounded by the mountains makes it one of the most iconic locations in Ireland.
Here what the actors from the Vikings have to say about it, having filmed Vikings Valhalla right here on Lough Tay.
A truly special place, the visitor centre at Glendalough shares the fascinating story of this monastic site, with its early Christian settlement nestled in a glaciated valley with two picture-perfect lakes. This is one of Ireland’s most famous visitor attractions and the sense of peace and splendid isolation you get from walking the three-kilometre-long valley is second to none.
Continue as far as the Upper Lake, the original site of the monastic settlement which features Reefert Church, Temple-na-Skellig, Saint Kevin’s Cell, Saint Kevin’s Bed, the Caher and a number of high crosses. Experience the 10km hike over the Spinc ridge. The trail ascends steeply on a path up by Poulanass Waterfall before joining a boardwalk and wooden steps leading to a spectacular viewing point overlooking the Upper Lake. It skirts the top of the cliffs with more breathtaking views before descending through blanket bog and down a rocky trail to the deserted Miners Village and returning on a good wide trail alongside the upper lake shore
Then it’s time to unwind at The Wicklow Heather and enjoy an array of locally sourced Wicklow ingredients.
The Meeting of the Waters
The village of Avoca is situated along The Avoca River. This flowing river starts as two rivers, the Avonmore (Irish: Abhainn Mhór, meaning “Big River”) and the Avonbeg (Irish: Abhainn Bheag, meaning “Small River”). The two join together at a spot called the Meeting of the Waters in the Vale of Avoca. In 1807, one of the greatest Irish poets and songwriters Thomas Moore wrote the song “The Meeting of the Waters”. The song conveys a sense of warmth and friendship and makes a link to the beautiful location where the two rivers meet. If you find yourself visiting the area, a wander to admire this beautiful site is a must.
“When we see them reflected from looks that we love.
Sweet Vale of Avoca! how calm I could rest,
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.”
The Avoca Mill
Dating back to 1723, The Avoca Mill is the oldest of its kind in the country and the throws, rugs and scarves that you’ll find in all Avoca stores originate here. You can watch weavers at work and take a stroll by the beautiful Avoca River.
Look out for the majestic Red Kite during your visit. They were extinct in Ireland for several centuries, however reintroduced back to County Wicklow by the Golden Eagle Trust just over a decade ago. Today, you can see them soaring high in the sky over the Vale of Avoca and down along the river to Avondale Forest Park.
National Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh
The National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh lie within an estate developed extensively during the 19th century by Thomas Acton in conjunction with David Moore and his son Sir Frederick Moore, Curators of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin at that time. It was a period of great botanical and geographical explorations with numerous plant species from around the world being introduced to Ireland for the first time. The different soil and climatic conditions at Kilmacurragh resulted in many of these specimens succeeding there while struggling or failing at Glasnevin.
Kilmacurragh is particularly famous for its conifer and rhododendron collections. Kilmacurragh is open all year round. The grounds are free to enter and explore. Guided tours run throughout the Summer season; no pre-booking required.
Greystones to Bray Cliff Walk
You’ll find some of the best coastal views on the east coast as you walk the cliffside path to Bray, along the coast from Greystones up to Bray seafront, 6km away. You can return via the DART to Greystones. The plants along the cliffs burst into colour in summer and are bustling with wildlife. There is some tricky terrain to navigate, but it’s worth the two hour long walk and for any keen walker, this is one of the best things to do in Wicklow. Keep a watch out for seals along the coastline, and make sure to try one of Teddys famous 99’s, a favourite summer treat best enjoyed by the seafront in Bray.
For more information on this wonderful county and other things to see and do check the Wicklow pages on Discover Ireland or the Visit Wicklow website.