Hiking Glendalough

Authored by:
Martin Humphreys

CIEE Dublin

Monasteries, Mountains, and Mines: Hiking Glendalough

A Spectacular Glacial Valley Amidst the Wicklow Mountains

My latest weekend adventure was a trip to Glendalough Lake, about an hour’s drive south of Dublin, with the DCU Rock Climbing Club.  Unfortunately for us, the weather was a little too wet for any climbing on Saturday, but it didn’t stop us from going on a beautiful hike the following Sunday.

Monasteries

One of the first things we passed on our hike was a round tower from the historical monastic site of the Glendalough valley. This tower is thought to have been a bell tower for the medieval monastery in the valley founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century.

Mountains

As we ventured further into the valley, next to the lake, the trail became more and more serene. Our group first found ourselves in a lush pine forest with the sun peeking through onto the trail ahead of us. After a while of strolling through the trees, the forest opened up and we got a taste of the incredible view still ahead of us. On the far side of the valley was a waterfall that looks small in the pictures, as it is still very far away.

Mines

Walking further down the path toward the waterfall, we came to the Glendalough Mining village, founded in the 1790s.  This encampment was set up to mine lead, zinc, and silver from the mountains and thrived in the truly desolate landscape up until it was closed in 1957. All that remains now are some crumbling structures and an iron or steel grinding mill. Looking around the now deserted village made me consider what it must have been like to live there in the 1800's.  It was windy, cold, and desolate, but a certain peacefulness and tranquility could also be felt.  I am really enjoying my weekend adventures here in Ireland and even with the rainy weather, this was no exception.  I would recommend hiking Glendalough to anyone considering visiting the Dublin area.

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