Lough Tay (Guinness Lake): The Perfect Place For A Sunny Saturday Ramble

A lovely scenic walk for this weekend

lough tay walk wicklow
Photo by Lukas Fendek/Shutterstock.com

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

I love Lough Tay for a few reasons:

  1. It’s a handy drive from my house
  2. The view is unreallllll
  3. You tend to have the place all to yourself

Have an aul gawk at this.

lough tay wicklow
A cold December evening at Lough Tay in Wicklow

I generally do it late in the evening, just as the sun is starting to drop or early in the morning, just after sunrise.

If you visit as the sun starts to set, the photo above will show you a bit of what you can expect.

About Lough Tay in Wicklow

If you’re stuck for time, just hit play below!

 

You’ll find Lough Tay in Wicklow, a stone’s throw (you’d want to have a fairly decent throw…) from Glendalough, nestled at the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.

It’s a small but scenic lake set on private property that lies between the mountains of Djouce and Luggala.

Things to do at Lough Tay

lough tay county wicklow ireland
Photo by Chris Hill

Right, so there’s a good few things to do near Lough Tay.

1 – Have a gander at the lake from above

This is an obvious enough one.

Park the car. Step over the little stone wall. Admire the inky black water from above.

2 – Do the Sally Gap Drive

If you’re visiting Lough Tay, you may as well make a trip out of it.

When you’ve finished up at the lake, continue along the road that took you there and you’ll be on your way to starting the Sally Gap Drive.

The road at the Sally Gap was constructed after the Irish rebellion of 1798.

Interestingly enough, it was built by British forces looking to flush Irish rebels from the hills. That’s where the name ‘Military Road’ comes from.

3 – Head off on the Lough Dan walk

If you’re in search of a decent walk in the area, the Lough Dan walk will be right up your street.

There’s a full guide on this walk below.

Why is it called ‘Guinness Lake’?

Guinness lake wicklow
Photo by Chris Hill

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 (more on this later).
  2. The lake is said to look like a pint of Guinness when viewed from above.

The white sand which you can see in the photo above is said to resemble the creamy head of a pint, while the dark waters are said to resemble the dark body of the liquid.

Lough Tay Walk (one for this weekend)

If you’re visiting the area and fancy heading off on a walk, there are several routes to choose from.

In this guide, we’ll be taking you through the walk from Lough Tay to Lough Dan.

The Lough Dan Walk

lough tay walk

Slap ‘Lough Tay Viewing Point‘ into Google Maps. It’ll take you to the car park shown above.

Note: If you visiting early morning/afternoon on a weekend, this car park may be full.
guinness lake walk
You need to go through the little gate on the left

After you’ve parked the car, walk back the road in the direction of Roundwood and head on in through the little black gate that you’ll see in the photo above.

Where to go next

From here, keep on walking along the tarmac road until you reach the little white cottage.

When you arrive at it, 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

Keep your eye out for an old grassy path 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. 

Here’s a taste of the view via iClimedaMountain.

lough dan walk
Photo by Chris Hill

 

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.
Acknowledgement: It’s around 3 years since I did this walk last, so parts of the route were hazy. I used the guide created by Wicklow Walks to jog my memory, especially for the descent. Wicklow Walks is an excellent guide that you need to visit if you’re planning on exploring Wicklow.

Don’t fancy walking?

lough tay snow
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

No worries.

You can just as easily head up to Lough Tay, chill on the grass and enjoy the view for a while.

Aim for the car park that I mentioned above and then stroll over to where the sign is in the photo above.

You’ll be treated to a view of the lake from above. 

Lough Tay Vikings link

Yes, yes, yes, the Vikings did film at Lough Tay.

The series, which was commissioned by the History Channel, depicts the life of the Ragnar Lothbrok along with his family and friends.

Fans of the show will recognise Lough Tay as Kattegat, Ragnar’s home.

Luggala Estate

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!

guinness estate
Photo via Sotheby’s Ireland

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.

luggala interior
Photo via Sotheby’s Ireland

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 

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve had a fair whack of questions since this guide was first published in Spring of 2019.

Below, you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions along with some answers.

Why is the Guinness lake black?

Lough Tay’s dark colour is created when rainwater that filters through the peat of the surrounding bog enters the lake. This turns the water a shade of brown which, in the depths of Lough Tay, appears black.

Is Lough Tay private?

Yes. Lough Tay is on private property that’s owned by the Guinness family estate. You’ll have to settle for admiring the lake from above, as the land that it sits within doesn’t open to the public.

What’s the Lough Tay hike?

This has been the most frequently asked question that I’ve been getting hit with. When people ask about the Lough Tay Hike/Guinness Lake walk, they’re usually referring to the Lough Dan Walk.

Lago Guinness Lago da Guinness

The number of emails with ‘lago Guinness’ or ‘lago da guinness’ in them has skyrocketed in the last couple of weeks, and I’m not sure why. After a bit of Googlin’, it looks like it’s people searching in Portuguese. If you’re one of them, howaya! I can’t speak a word of Portuguese, but you’re very welcome here!

Have you visited Lough Tay in Wicklow recently? 

Let me know what you thought in the comment section below!

guinness lake guide
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Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

6 COMMENTS

    • Hi Mark – there’s a car park (little pull in area) on the right if you’re approaching from the Roundwood side. It takes seconds to cross and get the view you’ll see in many of the pictures in this guide.

      We brought my Nan here recently enough and she had no bother getting across to the part where you get the view pictured. The only tricky part was the little knee height wall, but this shouldn’t cause an issue for most.

    • 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!

  1. 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

    • 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!

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