Day 3 (Wicklow) – Taking our Ireland road trip to the mountains
Day 3 is brilliant.
It’s got something for everyone and there are several options that you can choose from based on fitness levels and the weather.
You should be nice and fresh on the morning of day 3, so get up early, check out, and be on the road for 08:00.
1 – Gallivanting around Glendalough
// Dublin to the Glendalough Visitor Centre – 1-hour drive (leave at 08:00, arrive for 09:00) //
There’s an endless number of walks and hikes to do in Wicklow on your Ireland road trip.
In this guide, we’re going to recommend the Spinc Loop, but there’s another lovely climb nearby that’ll take you up for a view out over Lough Ouler.
The Glendalough Spinc Loop
This is the first of many hikes over the next three weeks.
The Spinc Loop (see our Glendalough walks guide) is challenging enough to give you a good workout, but not too strenuous in that you can still chat away and have a laugh with friends as you climb.
The hike begins at the Upper Lake carpark and follows the Poulanass Waterfall before entering the Lugduff Valley.
From here, climb the steep wooden steps (this’ll get the blood flowing!) to the top of the boardwalk that runs along the top of The Spinc.
This path is around 500m and it takes you up to a section of the boardwalk that overlooks the Upper Lake. This is a lovely spot to take a breather and admire a view that’s stopped many a walker in their tracks.
Here’s a look at some of what you can expect.
I’ve done this in 3 and a half hours a couple of times, but take it at your own pace and enjoy the views.
2 – A big aul feed in Roundwood
// Glendalough Visitor Centre to Roundwood – 10-minute drive (spend up to 4 hours in Glendalough and arrive at Roundwood for 13:00) //
At this stage, you’ll be in need of a post-hike feed – so we’re off for FOOOOOOD.
We’re going to take the short spin to the little village of Roundwood and head straight for the Coach House (there’s a car park).
Fuel up, chill and rest the legs for an hour.
If you’re here in the winter, you’ll be able to grab some heat by an enormous open fire.
3 – Lough Tay and the Sally Gap drive
// Roundwood to Lough Tay – 10-minute drive (arrive for 14:20) //
Lough Tay is easily one of my favourite places in Ireland.
Mainly because it’s a short drive from where I live in Dublin and you generally have the whole place to yourself (basing this on the past 4 times that I’ve been).
As you drive towards Lough Tay from Roundwood, you’ll eventually come to a little makeshift car park on the right where you can park the car.
Cross the road and walk down the grassy hill until you’re treated to the incredible view above (be careful with small children).
The Sally Gap
So, this is a looped drive rather than a stop. Leave Lough Tay and head in the direction of Glenmacnass Waterfall and then Laragh.
I’ve done this drive twice over the past 12 months, and many times over the years, and it never fails to disappoint.
Here’s how this looks on a map.
The enormous, isolated and often deserted (depending on when you visit) landscape that engulfs you as you spin along the Sally Gap Drive has the knack of making you feel like you’re the only person left on earth.
Watch the video below from pixel.flights and you’ll see what I mean.
Take your time with this drive and just soak it all up.
4 – A tour of the Wicklow Brewery, a pint and a feed
// Laragh to the Wicklow Brewery – 30-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //
Our final stop of day 3 of our Ireland road trip takes us to Mickey Finn’s Pub in Redcross – home to the Wicklow Brewery.
The Wicklow Brewery opened its doors on September 5th, 2014.
Those that opt to take the tour will be brought through the story of the Wicklow Brewery and given an insight into how they brew their beers, from the milling of the grain in the malt mill to the kegging at the end.
Hopefully it goes without saying that if you visit the brewery, you shouldn’t drink and drive!
We’re going to round the day off with a bite to eat in the pub. If you can, grab a seat in the cosy little snug area.
5 – A nest for night 3 of our Ireland road trip
So, where you stay in Wicklow is totally up to you.
I’m going to recommend Lochside B&B as it’s nice and close to Redcross, which is where the Wicklow Brewery is.
Check into the B&B and chill for the evening.
Sunday 26th of March 2023
Good day Keith,
Wow, what an amazing work you've done! I'm forever grateful!!! Please can you email this to me. We are planning to explore Ireland for the first time this year 2023, all the way from South Africa.
Monday 27th of March 2023
Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!
I've tried to get this converted to PDF on a number of occasions, but the result is very messy due to the volume of photos in it.
If there's any specific questions that I can help with, please fire them on and I'll do my best to answer them.
Sunday 26th of March 2023
First retirement trip. Ireland for a month! Go big or go home. So excited to start this new chapter in our lives - and to hit the roads of Ireland. This guide is perfect - but I’d love a more readable copy if you could email it to me.
Monday 13th of March 2023
Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you
Tuesday 22nd of March 2022
I'm tipping my hat to you for having the tenacity to put together such a helpful, insightful and thorough guide for all of us to enjoy. Thank you.
Saturday 22nd of January 2022
I think this is stunning, and have used it to plan our trip, which may not be as long but will incorporate your suggestions, I will let you know how we faired later in the year. Thank you very much