A few weekends ago I went on a trip to the most beautiful place I have ever been to, Glendalough in Wicklow Park. To help you understand the place, take Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Princes Bride and a little bit of Harry Potter and you have Glendalough. I went with two of my really good friends, Kim and Catherine, as an impromptu trip. We literally hunkered down with our computers and threw together the trip late at night. A day later we were on the bus to Glendalough with a quick bus change in Dublin. If you are wondering about the weird egg photos I have posted to Facebook, yes, there is a massive egg hunt going on around Dublin.
With the help of a lovely wine shop owner we found our bus and were on our way to Glendalough!
The first thing we did when we arrived at the park was find our hostel. The place was absolutely adorable and as a youth hostel, it came complete with two groups of Youth Troops (aka the place was swarming with kids). Once we were settled, we set off to explore the park. Our first stop was the monastic city, complete with a cemetery and Rapunzel tower.
We played around in the graves, literally, and wandered through the many monastic buildings.
As you can see… we had way too much fun with the cemetery.
The Rapunzel tower was obviously a sign that I was meant to stay in the park forever! We eventually bought a map (my baby) and set off on the different trails. Our first trail was the pink trail to find a view of the valley. Apparently we picked the most confusing path ever that had signs pointing in opposite directions.
It was like being in Alice in Wonderland. So, like the adventurous girls we are, we went off on what we thought was a path. Definitely was a path made by deer or goats, we ended up climbing a basically vertical wall, clinging to any tree roots and branches we could. Eventually we gave up on that trail and went off on a different one. This one started with a lovely warning sign to watch out for bears!
Sounds like an adventure right?? The path was literally gorgeous. At first we were walking through basically a fairy forest. Everything was covered in moss and glowing in the soft beams of sunlight.
As we were walking, it began to snow, which of course thrilled me. To be honest, the hike was more of a work out then we anticipated and we had to stop several times to take breaks. Once we were at the top though, we realized all our struggles were worth it.
Taking in the view.
We were at the top of the mountains with the valley stretched out below us. The view of the lakes and surrounding lands was breathtaking. We were only there for about 10 minutes when all of a sudden we noticed a massive cloud coming towards us.
We started to keep going on the path, but before long, the cloud had won and we were surrounded by snow. As you can see by the pictures, the trail we were on was made of boards. They did have nails and chicken wire over the wood, but there were still parts of the path that were covered with ice. So with a limited visual field and slippery footing we trudged on into the mountains. There were a few slips but we had taken on a single file style of walking which helped out immensely. We even made a joke of it and sang the Elephant song from the Jungle Book:
Hup 2, 3, 4 Dress it up 2, 3, 4 Hup 2, 3, 4 Dress it up 2, 3, 4
By the ranks or single file, Over every jungle mile
Oh we stamp and crush Through the underbrush
In a military style! In a military style!
Hup 2, 3, 4 Keep it up 2, 3, 4…
Eventually the cloud had started to clear up and I realized that we were surrounded by a huge herd of deer! They were incredibly interested in us and kept staring as we walked by. We also had finally started to descend down from the mountaintops.
When we were about half way down we had a lovely surprise and ended up in an old abandoned mining city! I wish we could have spent more time there but we were running out of daylight. We continued on and had to walk on through these massive boulders. There was a bunch of small “cave like” areas created by the rocks and we kept joking about how we could use them as shelter if we were stuck out in the snow. The more we talked about it, the more I wanted to go into one of the caves. So I picked one near the path, climbed in and sat down. Catherine followed me in and was about to sit down next to me when she jumped back. I, confused, look to my left and what did I see? A massive, furry, creature of some kind from my darkest nightmare. I have no idea if I screamed, all I know is that I got out of there as soon as I possibly could. Turns out it was a dead animal, but at the moment all I could think of was a badger or bear. (Beware of bears ring a bell?) A little shaken, we started to hurry on. It had started to snow again and was dark out. We ran into the rest of the mining city, which at this point, was incredibly creepy. The trail was getting harder and harder to find so at one point Kim and I ended up stepping in the river. With one soaking wet foot each, we stumbled upon the path and hurried on.
We passed a few people on the way out, which reassured the Kim and Catherine, but I could only think of all the scary movies I’ve ever seen. After speed walking our way around the paths, we eventually found our way back. Back to what you might ask? The monastic city. Aka the graveyard. Going through the graveyard was the fastest way back to our hostel but it was not a choice we enjoyed much. Kim and I definitely regretted playing around in the graveyard as zombies at this point. I hope you understand the blog title now as we had quite the chilling adventure in our little fairy land.
Once we got back, we changed into dry clothes and went downstairs to the kitchen to make our meager dinner. Literally all we had was pasta sauce and noodles. Seems like a fine dinner but we had to compare it to this large group of French travelers. They had homemade pasta sauce complete with meat and vegetables; a HUGE bowl of pasta to feed about 20 people; salad; wine; etc…. I really wish we could have befriended them. After dinner we tried to watch a movie, but of course the children had taken over the room. We ended up going to bed early, exhausted from our long day in the mountains.
We woke up pretty early to get our day started. Catherine went off to find the nearby church and I attempted to take a shower. This was QUITE the ordeal. I literally had to push a button constantly to keep the water running. I understand saving water, but seriously!? I am not coordinated enough for that. After getting ready, Kim and I went down for breakfast. I was soooo happy I got the full Irish breakfast, I was absolutely starving. Once Catherine came back (after Kim and I had a much needed dance party to T-Swift and Macklemore), we set off back into the park. We covered an incredibly amount of paths and saw some amazing sights.
The Map: AKA My Baby
We saw more of the ancient churches and buildings; found an incredible view of the lower lake and the mountains (where I made best friends with the ducks); and almost came home with a dog. I’m not even kidding though, people don’t keep their dogs on leashes and this younger dog decided to follow us a good distance up a path away from his owners. Having a pet was nice while it lasted! The path ended up being incredibly muddy and I almost wiped out in the middle of a mud puddle. Struggles per usual. Right when we were starting to get hungry we ran into the perfect lunch spot. Someone had come through earlier and built a few forts!
So we sat in our little shelter and had lunch like true explorers. When we were done with that trail I decided that we had time for one more trail.
There is almost nothing more beautiful in my opinion. Absolutely breathtaking and so unexpected. (*hint hint* future husband out there it’s the perfect place for a proposal). Once we tore ourselves away from the beauty of the place, we made our way back to our hostel to gather all of our stuff. Kim and Catherine made friends with a painter on the way, friendly as usual. From there we caught our bus back to Dublin and jumped on to our bus to Galway!
To sum up our adventure in total I:
- Saw tons of waterfalls and beautiful fairy like forests
- Made friends with a goat, duck, dog, and herd of deer
- Survived a snow storm
- Somehow recreated the perfect horror movie
- HIKED 20 MILES!!
- Had an incredible experience with incredible people. Something I will never forget!
O, and here are some travel tips we learned from our trip:
- Wear real hiking shoes, tennis shoes don’t count
- Watch where you walk, you never know what you might step in…. yuck.
- Always bring cash!
- Have food to feed ducks, but beware, duck feeding turns into duck mobs
- Watch who you pet, they might follow you and think you are new best friends (meaning dogs)
- Think like a scout and always be prepared!
- Learn how to build a fort
- NEVER TRUST PINK ARROWS OR HEIGHT ESTIMATIONS!!! They always lie.
- Don’t play in cemeteries, it will come back to haunt you
- Rocks are ALWAYS slippery
- Do NOT go into caves. Just don’t.
- Always bring lots of food and make fancy feasts, or else the French will out do you