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Lough Tay (Guinness Lake): Parking, Viewing Points + Two Hikes To Try Today

Lough Tay (Guinness Lake): Parking, Viewing Points + Two Hikes To Try Today

O ne of my favourite things to do in Wicklow is to take a spin up to Lough Tay, AKA ‘Guinness Lake’.

The lake is located along the Sally Gap Drive and you’ll be treated to magnificent views of its inky black water as you approach from either side.

In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from the Lough Tay hike and where to park (2 handy options), plus how the name ‘Guinness Lake’ came about.

Some quick-need-to-knows about Lough Tay in Wicklow

For the most part, a visit to Guinness Lake in Wicklow is fairly straightforward, however, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your trip more enjoyable.

1. Location

You’ll find Lough Tay in the Wicklow Mountains where it’s nestled between Djouce Mountain and Lugga. The Guinness Lake, as it’s known, is situated within a private estate, but it can be viewed from above from several viewing points along the Sally Gap.

2. Lough Tay car park

So, there are several different places for parking at Lough Tay. You can park at the JB Malone Car Park (the viewing point is across the road on the grassy verge) or at the ‘main’ Lough Tay viewing point here. Parking is limited, but it only tends to fill up at the weekends.

3. The viewing points

The main Guinness Lake viewing point is at the second link above. You’ll be able to see the lake without having to cross over the wall (which I’m not advising you to do as it’s on private land and I don’t want to get sued…). You can also see it from the grass across from the JB Malone Car Park.

4. Why it’s called Guinness Lake

There’s a couple of reasons why Lough Tay is also referred to as ‘Guinness Lake’.

  1. Luggala estate, which Lough Tay is part of, is a private estate that’s owned by the members of the Guinness family trust
  2. The lake is said to look like a pint of Guinness when viewed from above (the water is inky black and there’s white sand at the top, which looks like the head of a pint)

5. Walks

People tend to ask us about the Lough Tay hike a fair bit. There’s a few different walks that you can head off on nearby: the Lough Tay to Lough Dan Walk (info on this below) and the Djouce Mountain Walk. You get incredible views of Guinness Lake on the Djouce walk!

6. Safety warning

OK. So, a safety warning: If you step over the wall at the main Lough Tay viewing point and walk over onto the grass (again, I’m not saying to do this) BE CAREFUL. Don’t go too far down and be aware that it gets VERY SLIPPY here at times. The lakes itself is on private land, so you can’t get down to it.

The Lough Tay hike (2 to try)

guinness lake walk wicklow

Photo by Lukas Fendek/Shutterstock.com

If you’re visiting the area and fancy trying the Lough Tay walk, there are several routes to choose from of varying lengths.

In this guide, we’ll be taking you through the walk from Lough Tay to Lough Dan along with nearby Djouce Mountain Walk, where you’ll get great views of the lake from above.

1. The Lough Tay to Lough Dan Walk

lough tay car park

You need to go through the little gate on the left

The Lough Tay to Lough Dan Walk is the walk that most people are referring to when they talk about the ‘Lough Tay hike’.

Where to start the walk

After you park up at one of the Lough Tay car parks, you’ll need to walk back along the road in the direction of Roundwood (be careful and stay tight to the side).

After a short stroll, you’ll arrive at the gates above. You need to walk through the little black gate on the left.

Where to go next

From here, keep on walking along the tarmac road until you reach the little white cottage. When we did this walk a few years back, there was a little red sign on the side of the cottage with an arrow pointing you in the direction of Lough Dan.

Turn left and keep on going until you cross the second of two bridges. The road ends after the second bridge, but you’ll find a gate on the right that’ll take you up Knocknacloghoge Mountain. Keep on going and you’ll come to another gate. 

Following the grassy path

The Lough Tay to Lough Dan Walk can get a bit tricky from here, as you need to keep your eye out for an old grassy path (it should be on your right hand side as you walk).

Take this path and keep strolling (you’ll see the summit of the hill after a short while). The path that you’re on won’t actually take you to the summit, so you need to follow the path on the left that heads up hill.

Keep on going until you reach the top. The views from this part of the Lough Tay walk on a clear day are out of this world.

How to get back down

To get back down, follow the path that leads south from the summit. Keep to the left and walk on towards the head of Lough Dan. There are two options for descending.

  1. Retrace your steps and head back to Lough Tay that way.
  2. Walk towards the cottage at the head of Lough Dan and make your return left along the old road.

2. The hike up Djouce

lough tay hike

Photo by Semmick Photo (Shutterstock)

The second Guinness Lake walk takes you away from Lough Tay and up nearby Djouce Mountain. This is a handy walk that treats you to glorious views of the summit.

So, why does it also get lumped in as a Lough Tay hike? Well, when you’re a bit of the way into the walk, you can soak up mighty views of the lake itself.

This is a handy and rewarding hike that doesn’t require much of a climb. Find out all about this version of the Lough Tay hike in this guide.

About Luggala Estate at the foot of Lough Tay

Although you can’t get down to the lake, you’ll see the magnificent estate on the Guinness Lake walk and from many of the viewing points.

Luggala Lodge was built in 1787 and, according to the official website, ‘gothicized thereafter for the La Touche family‘ (Dublin bankers of Huguenot origin).

Many years later in 1937 Ernest Guinness, the second son of Edward Guinness (the head of the Guinness brewing business, bought Luggala and gave it as a wedding present to his daughter.

Now that’s some present… look at the size of the place! Over the years the estate has played host to everyone from Brendan Behan and Seamus Heaney to Mick Jagger and Bono.

The landscape at Luggala is picturesque and dramatic, which is why it has and it became a magnet for Hollywood over the years. The estate has been used in the filming of multiple movies, such as;

  • Sinful Davey
  • Zardoz
  • Excalibur
  • King Arthur
  • Braveheart
  • Becoming Jane
  • P.S. I Love You 

What to do after the Lough Tay walk

Glenmacnass Waterfall

Photo by Lynn Wood Pics (Shutterstock)

One of the beauties of the Guinness Lake walk is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best places to visit in Wicklow.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw the Lough Tay hike, from waterfalls and hikes to much more.

1. Glenmacnass Waterfall (30 minutes away)

Glenmacnass Waterfall

Photo by Eimantas Juskevicius (Shutterstock)

If you continue along the Sally Gap Drive from Lough Tay, you’ll eventually loop around the the magnificent Glenmacnass Waterfall. There’s parking right before it.

1. Powerscourt Waterfall (20 minutes away)

powerscourt waterfall wicklow

Photo by Eimantas Juskevicius (Shutterstock)

Ireland’s biggest waterfall, Powerscourt Waterfall, is a short, 20-minute spin from Guinness Lake. You can also nip into nearby Powerscourt House.

3. Walks galore

Ballinastoe woods walk

Photo by PhilipsPhotos/shutterstock.com

There’s loads of other hikes in Wicklow that you can take on after the Guinness Lake hike. Here are some of our favourites:

FAQs about visiting Guinness Lake in wicklow

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where is the Lough Tay car park to which Guinness Lake walk is most worth doing.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Can you visit Lough Tay or is it private?

You can’t visit the lake itself, as it’s on private land. You can, however, see it from above at one of the viewing points or while you do the Guinness Lake walk.

Where is the Lough Tay car park?

You can park at the JB Malone Car Park or at the ‘main’ Lough Tay viewing point (find links above to the locations on Google Maps).

What is the Lough Tay hike?

When people ask about the Lough Tay walk / Guinness Lake walk, they’re usually referring to walk to Lough Dan Walk. However, there’s also the Djouce walk that offers views over the lake.

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SK Cole

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

Both Luggala and Ballinrush Estates have been privately owned since the 18 th century at least. Between the La Touche and then Powerscourt families in the early days and since the 1850s Ballinrush has been in The Archer family, while Luggala sold to The Guiness Family in 20th century until the Hon Garech Brownes sojourn there ended. Both are areas of special scientific interest and need folk to understand that this places a burden on all the owners to care and conserve the unusual unspoilt areas , hence trying to restrict access over sensitive areas . There are health and safety restrictions as certain areas can be dangerous as well and this leads to restrictions too. Both of these sets of owners spend time here and appreciate some privacy as well, particularly since The Avenue at Ballinrush is merely access for the owners and not a right of way at all.

Aoife

Sunday 25th of April 2021

We just went up today! Searched the luggala bike carpark which has spots for maybe about 7 cars and is past the viewing point mentioned. We crossed the road and headed straight, following a slight trail in the heather and also 2 other hikers! Upon reaching the highest peak straight ahead you come up over it and have a birds eye view down onto the lake- was beautiful. On the way home we then stopped at the grassy viewpoint which gave us another point of view! Stunning location- pity the estate is private property now

Abhi

Thursday 8th of April 2021

Hi Keith,

I am planning to visit lough tay on Saturday. can we go down just for sitting next to water? I know it is private property can we still go down to take some photos and chill ?

Keith O'Hara

Friday 9th of April 2021

Hey Abhi! No, you can't go anywhere near Lough Tay, as it sits within a gated estate on private land. The closest you can get is from the viewing point above, which is still a nice spot to sit an chill!

Enjoy your visit!

Bernie Crosse

Saturday 8th of August 2020

Hey Keith ! Want to do the Lough Tay hike tomorrow but in All Trails app it’s not coming up ... so we park as per your article ? Does the walk you describe take you up to Lough Tay and then onto Lough Dan and back again ? Bit confused .. Cheers Bernie

Keith O'Hara

Monday 10th of August 2020

Hi Bernie - there's a lot of reports that one of the gates that you need to use for this walk is currently closed. I can't find any 'official' info online, but there's been chatter in some travel groups that it's closed until the end of the month (I haven't been able to confirm).

This is the answer you're looking for, I know!

Ray Smyth

Tuesday 4th of August 2020

Is it true that the pier gates and access to Luggala and Knocknaclockogue has been closed to hikers recently?

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 5th of August 2020

Hi Ray - I've heard that alright but I can't seem to find any updated info online around whether they're open yet/what the current status is, which isn't ideal!

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