Glendalough

IMAG6104

On St. Patrick’s Day earlier this month, a happy band of family and friends headed out to Glendalough, home of another Saint (Kevin), to walk in the fresh air and get the heck out of the party zone that Dublin turns into on the 17th of March.

It turns out most Irish people in the Dublin and Wicklow areas had exactly the same idea; there wasn’t a parking spot to be had in all of the Glendalough Park official car parks or along the road leading to the park. At one point I was afraid we had reached grid lock as we tried to pass from one lot to another. Everyone seemed to think that St. Patrick’s Day morning was a super time to stretch the legs, breath fresh Irish air and take in the fantastic scenery Glendalough offers.

IMAG6090

We managed to finagle a space about a mile up the road eventually. The plan was to hike the full Spinc Trail which runs around the lake, through the old mining village up over the ridge of the valley and back down through the forest on the other side. Eight miles in total.

IMAG6088

The day was foggy and grey as we started out around the lake. The trail was busy (not surprising considering the car park situation), not only with adult hikers but babies, children and dogs of all shapes and sizes. A celebration of the national holiday in one of the most gorgeous locations.

As we started our ascent out of the mining village, the sky began to clear. I ate an apple. We climbed up and up along the rocky, switch-back trail and after about an hour or so found a gorgeous grassy, not-too-windy spot to have our picnic.

IMAG6092

Luckily we’d packed enough food and treats to sustain us for the remaining climb and descent. I’d never walked the Spinc before and the views are incredible. It’s well worth the little burning in the quads to be high up above the Glendalough valley looking down on the lake, the graveyard and the mining village.

As we began our decent through the forest, we were aided by wooden steps. There is an option of walking up the steps and around the path the other way. Many people were coming at us from that direction. I am, however, thrilled that we went up the other way and didn’t have to face climbing all those stairs. The ascent that way would have been much steeper and more punishing. Also, if you go up the way we did, you get the views of the valley facing you as you walk back down. I don’t want to toot our own whistle, but that was clearly the best way.

IMAG6095

Once safely (if exhaustedly) returned to the valley, we had a little gander through the graveyard. The sun was over the lake, and the mist from earlier made the air sparkle a bit. It’s easy to see why Glendalough was considered such a spiritual place. It’s part of the new Ancient East Trail.

We rewarded ourselves with pints of Guinness (or whatever you’re having yourselves) before the mile long walk back to the car. If we’d parked a little closer the day would have been too close to perfection. The distance to the car made us feel very smug about our ten-mile walk.

Glendalough is close to Dublin and there are buses out there every day a few times a day if you don’t have a car. I highly recommend going. There are other trails and loops to follow if you don’t feel like the full eight mile Spinc adventure. Just being there is magic.

IMAG6102

 

 

Advertisements
Glendalough

Wicklow Mountains

When I am walking or cycling up from town to Rathmines, I can see the Wicklow Mountains straight ahead of me. This morning they were covered in a light snow.

You can catch glimpses of the mountains from many places in town. They are right on the edge of the city, and yet I don’t get out to them that often.

This past weekend C and I were taking care of two doggies so we decided this was a perfect excuse to get out and walk around in the mountains for an afternoon.

Mia Heading up the Wicklow Mountains
Mia Heading up the Wicklow Mountains

We drove up towards Sally Gap, following signs for Powerscourt Waterfall and Avoca Handweavers. In all the time I’ve lived in Ireland, I’ve only been up there twice before. The day was Irish: grey, windy and cold. We took a trail high above Loch Dan.

The ground is wet and muddy but luckily a walking track has been built above it all to save our shoes and keep our feet dry. Our doggie wards are both of the tiny variety, and had there not been a walk-way, we might have lost them in one of the cold puddles.

C and Dog Friends
C and Dog Friends

I love being able to see far and wide and not be able to see Dublin or any sign of a city. There were other walkers and hikers on the path but not that many. I love that a mere forty minute drive from the centre of a major European capital I can be standing on a mountain surrounded by mountains and air and sky and nothing else.

We hiked up Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles on New Years day. LA has many great canyon and hill walks. It took us about 40 minutes to park the car, let alone to drive to the base of the walk. When we hit the trail, we were some of hundreds of people and dogs walking. Everyone looked perfectly LA stylish as well. At the top we stood above the intense sprawl of Los Angeles. The city spreads as far as the eye can see. The Hollywood sign sits in the Hollywood hills to the left, and the Pacific Ocean is down on the right. Planes take off every few seconds from the airport. You are aware, totally and completely, that you are above, in and a part of a massive American city.

LA Sprawl from Runyon Canyon
LA Sprawl from Runyon Canyon
Hollywood Sign
Hollywood Sign

The Wicklow Mountains are the opposite of that, and a welcome relief. Not that I would mind of we could steal some of that LA sunshine. I hope we won’t have to wait until our next dog’s visit to head up to the mountains again.

Next time we head to the Wicklow Mountains I'm hoping for short sleeves and shades.
Next time we head to the Wicklow Mountains I’m hoping for short sleeves and shades.
Wicklow Mountains