In lake countryJun 15th, 2009 | By editor | Category: Lifestyle, Travel
RISHAD SAAM MEHTA
It would sound foolish to hop off a trans-continental flight from Mumbai to Dublin lugging baggage and jet lag and get behind the wheel and drive. Dublin was rejoicing in the first days of summer and though people still had their woollies on, sunglasses were out in force. My GPS made quick work of navigating Dublin city, and soon, I was out on the motorway heading towards County Wicklow.
Wicklow is called the garden of Ireland because its mountains and valleys support a variety of fauna, and even the gorse that grows wild blooms with stunning yellow flowers that add colour to the land.
I’d set my GPS on the ‘scenic road’ option and it guided me through roads that were as narrow as they were breathtakingly beautiful. GPS confidently guided me through this turn and that roundabout and got me to my bed and breakfast (B&B) in Glendalough.
Glendalough, called the Valley of Two Lakes, is a little settlement that was first inhabited by St. Kevin, a monk who came here to find peace and piety in the 6th Century.
After living as a hermit in a cave above the upper lake, he founded the region’s first church and, before long, Glendalough became established as a place of pilgrimage. The remains of this monastic city can still be seen.
Jim and Judy Doyle, who run the very charming Bracken B&B, are a wealth of knowledge about the area, and Jim told me to get to the Glendalough Heritage Centre’s car park as early as I could and go for a walk on the Green Road that goes past the two lakes of the region — the Lower and the Upper Lake.
But, before that, they told me to go and have dinner at Lynams of Laragh, a very atmospheric local pub, with weathered table tops, cheery locals and rows of beer taps that had their handles worn to a shine from a thousand pulls.
Before I set off the next morning, I tucked into a full Irish breakfast cooked by Jim. Local B&Bs take great pride in their breakfasts and the owners will proudly talk great lengths about the ingredients, and where they are sourced from and how they are cooked.
When I stepped out, the sun was shining in a deep blue sky. The clouds were far away in the horizon. Perfect weather for some walking.
The car park at the heritage centre had just two cars and I knew that I’d have the trail all to myself. The Green Road that is the easiest, and a very scenic road, took me over a little wooden bridge under which the water was crystal clear and was gurgling along in a merry canter.
Just a few minutes into the walk, I came upon the remains of the monastic city. It was serene and quiet thanks to the early hour and I had it all to myself. I was transported back in time as I walked amidst ruins and towers and stone buildings that were built even before the Middle Ages or the Crusades inthe 7th Century AD.
A few meters ahead of the monastic city, I trudged towards the Lower Lake. Tall yellow grass grew at the water’s edge on the near bank, and across the deep blue water I could see the green meadows on the far bank.
Fat and rotund sheep grazed on these meadows, specks of white on the green, and the hillsides were covered with a profusion of colours announcing the arrival of summer. Little country houses were tucked into these hillsides, their settings absolutely out of an Enid Blyton book.
I walked on to the Upper Lake, which is even more dramatic in its setting thanks to the valley at the far end.
These two lakes give Glendalough its name and they are very popular during the summer because besides the Green Roads there are lovely walking paths that enthusiastic walkers will love.
There are walks for all kinds of people and they range from 20 minutes to four hours to four days. In fact, when I got back from my walk, the car park was already populated with cars and coaches as tourists arrived to take in the superb surroundings and walk to the lakes.
But, I was on a driving holiday rather than a walking one; so, I was soon back in my Volkswagen Passat and heading out towards Kilkenny.
The road to Kilkenny from Glendalough goes through the splendid Wicklow Gap or pass through the Wicklow Hills and it is supremely scenic. It is because of such roads, of which there is no shortage of in Ireland, that this island is ideal for a driving holiday.
For more, check out www.discoverireland.com