IRELAND: Wicklow/ Glendalough with HillTopTreks

Connemara National Park was supposed to be our destination for the third day, but unfortunately Irish Day Tours called us the day before that not enough people had signed on so it got cancelled. Up until now I’m still so sad that I didn’t get to go see this national park as it was what I was most looking forward to on this trip.

Since we only arrived back in Dublin after 7 the day before, we only got time to look up alternatives for the next day then. We headed to the Tourist Office – where they didn’t really help up and didn’t give back all the money for the cancelled excursion because “they can’t give back booking costs” (boo ya) – and grabbed all the flyers we saw. In the hotel room we checked several things, and suddenly stumbled across a flyer of HillTopTreks. What drew my attention was the mentioning of the movies P.S. I Love You and Braveheart, which are basically two films I adore. They had a tour called Wicklow/ Glendalough during which places of those movies were shown. We quickly booked that tour and only twelve hours later, we were already waiting for the bus to pick us up.

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When the bus arrived a few minutes late, we didn’t appear to be on the list – which didn’t quite surprise me since we were so late to book. But after showing our (amazing and hilarious) driver and guide Johny the confirmation we got by email, we were quickly allowed on the bus.

As we were already running late, we first went to drop of the horseback riders. There are multiple options for the first part of this day trip: you can go horseback riding, hikingor just visit the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens. We decided to go see the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens because it seemed less heavy than hiking and we weren’t intirely sure about mounting a horse (it’s been ten years for me!). After dropping off the horseback riders, we were dropped off at Powerscourt and had well over an hour to walk around.

Powerscourt Gardens is stretched out over 47 acres which were laid out over a period of 150 years and contain over 200 varieties of trees, bushes and flowers. It’s a lovely place to just stroll around and take in the scenery with the Sugerloaf Mountain so close. What I found the most curious in the gardens, was the Pet Cemetery which had all kind of animals who laid there for over a hundred years.

 

A bit after noon we were picked up again and were taken to Enniskerry for lunch. We enjoyed a light lunch in a lovely restaurant called Poppys. Enniskerry is also the village where P.S I love you’s Gerry came from, but it wasn’t featured in the movie other than just being mentioned as his home town.

And then it was time to head for the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Obviously the driver didn’t really like to keep to the planning. He all together skipped the Powerscourt waterfalls – which I did want to see – and stopped at a German Cemetary which I wasn’t all that interested in. It was a nice place, but I would have prefered to see the watefalls as the planning said. Nonetheless, the guide was a really nice man and got some really interesting information.

Our first stop in the Wicklow National Park was the bridge at which Garry and Holly first met in ‘PS. I Love You’. The bridge itself isn’t all that interesting but the view and the surroundings are just so breathtakingly beautiful. I wish we had more time to just stare at it all. It was like magic.

But even along the way there were so many beautiful views. Unfortuntaly, the bus window was once again quite bitchy so the pictures I took don’t do it any justice.. I sort of wish we’d have stopped more for a quick picture.

 

And then it was straight to Lough Tay, also known as the Guinness Lake. This beautiful lake is surrounded by mountains, and most of the area is owned by the Guinness family hence the second name of the lake. You can also see their estate and garden from certains points. But it’s just such a beautiful place to just relax for a while – which luckily we did.

Our last stop for the day was Glendalough, which is a vally in Wicklow mostly known for the early medieval monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the sixth century. It’s quite a beautiful setting and just nice to walk through. Sadly enough there wasn’t enough time left to walk to the lake closeby.

 

And then, unfortunately – since I definitely wasn’t ready to leave this beautiful scenery yet -, it was back to Dublin. We were home around 5:30 pm and decided to go hit a pub that evening. As a true Irish woman.

But first, we had dinner at the Bachelor’s Inn, which was very close to our hotel and looked nice from the outside with all the poets and writers on the windows and walls. But on the inside it was just a normal restaurant/ pub. The food was really good though, so I don’t regret it.

As for the pub, our bus driver had recommended The Stag’s Head, which is a pub from 1770. It felt a lot less touristy than the pubs you can find on Temple Bar or at the Liffey so I really would recommend this one as well.

And then it was time to go to sleep. After two busy days with many hours on the bus, I was happy that the next day we didn’t have a “must-get-out-of-bed”-hour.

The Wicklow/ Glendalough tour with Hilltoptreks leaves at the Molly Malone Statue at 9:30 am. Their mini-busses seat only 13 people so being early doesn’t really give you a better place. But still, it’s always advisable to be a bit early so the other don’t have to wait if you’re running a bit late. The tour costs 25 euros for the visit to the Powerscourt (for which you have to pay an extra 6,5 euro entrance fee), 35 euros for the guided walk and 75 euros for the horseback riding. Aside from the fact that it was a bit chaotic and not according to plan, I did have a nice day in Wicklow. Yet I still prefer the organisation of Irish Day Tours, but with that option not availble anymore, this was a worthy alternative since the price was really amazing.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

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