The magic of the Wicklow Mountains isn’t easy to put into words. Even the photos of a winter’s day spent in Wicklow might not entice you enough to hop on a plane and try for yourself. It’s when you’re there that everything falls into place.
Ireland is known for its rugged landscapes and beautiful nature. Those of you who think you’d have to travel far are mistaken; In the vicinity of Dublin there is a gorgeous escape that seems to be taken right out of a normally so unrealistic travel brochure.
This area is often referred to as the garden of Ireland. Rugged nature, rolling hills with tiny villages scattered all over and sheep that endlessly stand on the road, waiting for a lonely car wanting to pass by.
The Wicklow Mountains were on the top of my list when I visited Ireland for the first time. The scenic backdrop of many heroic films is used like so for a reason.
Little did I know that it would blow me away even more than I thought.
During my (very wintery) trip, some of the famous film locations weren’t visible because of the heavy fog, but that didn’t make it less beautiful. Standing on top of the hill and viewing the Sally Gap was worth the rain and cold during the trip – being surrendered to Irish nature possibly made it the experience even better.
What you should know about the Wicklow Mountains
The Wicklow Mountains form a mountain range in the South East of Ireland. Starting in county Dublin they cross county Wicklow to end in the county of Wexford. The highest mountain of the nature reserve is mount Lugnaquilla of 925 meters.
A small part of the Wicklow Mountains is a protected nature area. This piece of 2800 hectares of land is called Wicklow Mountains National Park. The Wicklow Way, a stunning hiking route, goes partly through it.
As mentioned before, many famous films have been shot in the Wicklow mountains, such as P.S. I Love you, Excalibur and even Scottish themed Braveheart was filmed here.
Quietness is what you will find when walking through the national park. The little houses and sheep farms make that there’s a dreamy photo to be captured around every corner.
The lakes of the Wicklow Mountains
The area has a few lakes, such as the so-called ribbon lakes of Upper and Lower Glendalough and Lough Dan in the east.
Lough Ouler, Lough Nahagan and Lough Bray are corrie lakes. These lakes originated when gletsjers worn out the soil underneath to create a large bowl-shaped hole.
Lough Dan is one of the many spectacular lakes the Wicklow Mountains have to offer. The lake, seen from the top of a muddy hill, is immense and surrounded by hills, streams and quiet roads. Aside from some small tours passing by, people are nowhere to be seen.
The Glendalough Monastic City
In the 6th century, St. Kevin lived as a hermit, close to Glendalough’s upper lake. He gained many followers, who started living in the area as well. In the 12th century there were about 3000 people living in Glendalough. There were also 7 churches and a monastery, which was once destroyed by Vikings.
You can still wander through the Monastic City, which is a great idea if you love an extra photo opportunity.
Things to do in the Wicklow Mountains
Apart from taking one photograph after the other, Wicklow is known to be an amazing hiking spot! Hiking trails are available with many tourist agencies, but if you search well, you’ll find a variety of trails for every kind of hiker. Be sure to bring that rain coat though!
It is important to know that while some routes are marked, most hiking in the Wicklow Mountains is off track on unmarked routes and requires navigation skills. Make sure you know what you’re doing and always tell a friend where you are!
Bouldering is another thing some daredevils tend to do when visiting the Wicklow Mountains. The best places to climb or boulder in this area are on the crags along the Miners’ Road at Glendalough and in Glenmalure.
Paragliders and hang gliders eat your heart out! Apart from nesting season (1st March – 31st August), the Wicklow Mountains are a great place for some adventurous air twirling.
Bird watchers might want to keep an eye out for a few of Wicklow’s inhabitants: the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Red Grouse and Pelegrine Falcon are just some of the species you might bump into.
Along the park you can find yourself some cozy pubs to warm up in. Ask for a pint of Guinness and an Irish stew and try to mingle with some locals. Everyone in Ireland is so friendly that it won’t be difficult to make a few new friends.
How to get to the Wicklow Mountains
There are many tours leaving from Dublin, costing between €18 and €30. Many do a combination of the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough. Because I don’t have a license, I allowed myself the safety and comfort of a fixed tour with Over the Top Tours. I really liked the scenic stops and breaks throughout the entire park. The tour is about half a day.
If you have a car, you can visit the park yourself. Make sure that you feel confident driving the small roads. Although it seemed safe, I’d recommend only experienced drivers to go. The many twists and turns and the frequent sheep attacks (wink wink) could be too overwhelming for the inexperienced driver.
Have you been to the Wicklow Mountains?
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