Lough Tay, AKA ‘Guinness Lake’, is arguably the jewel in the crown of the Sally Gap Drive.
Located upon a private estate owned by the Guinness Family Trust, Lough Tay is located a short drive from the village of Roundwood.
As you walk, cycle or drive along the Sally Gap Drive you’ll be treated to magnificent views of its inky black water.
Below, you’ll find the car parks, the viewpoints, info on the Lough Tay hike and the story behind 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.
If you don’t have access to a car, you can take this 1/2-day tour from Dublin that passes Lough Tay (affiliate link).
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. Why it’s called Guinness Lake
There’s a couple of reasons why Lough Tay is also referred to as ‘Guinness Lake’:
- Luggala estate, which Lough Tay is part of, is a private estate that’s owned by the members of the Guinness family trust
- 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)
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), the Luggala hike and the Djouce Mountain Walk.
5. 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 viewing points
There are several great Lough Tay viewing points along the first leg of the Sally Gap Drive. Now, a couple of warnings. Firstly, some of these viewpoints are on private land – we’re not telling you to enter this land.
Secondly, many of these viewing areas have very sheer drops that can come upon you out of nowhere. Extreme caution is required.
The first Guinness Lake viewpoint is from the area across the road from the Ballinastoe Woods parking area (here on Google Maps).
Now, although we’re not telling you to go onto this land, if you did, you’d have a view out over Lough Tay. Extreme care would be needed here as there’s a very steep drop.
The second Lough Tay viewing point is across from the JB Malone Car Park (here on Google Maps). This again is private land so we’re not recommending you walk here.
However, there is a fine aul view out over the lake from across the road. Safety is needed once again here as there is a drop.
The final Lough Tay viewing point is arguably the one that’ll be suitable for most (here on Google Maps) as you don’t have to go near private land.
You park up and the view out over the lake is clearly visible right from where you pull in (on the right if you’re approaching from Roundwood).
The Lough Tay hikes (3 to try)
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, the Luggala hike along with nearby Djouce Mountain Walk, where you’ll get great views of the lake from above.
Please keep in mind that you can’t walk down to the Guinness Lake. Please avoid trying to do so.
1. The Lough Tay walk to Lough Dan (easyish)
Right – let’s look at the short Lough Tay walk, first. This is a liner trail that stretches for around 8km and that’ll take you around 1.5 hours in total.
You’ll want to walk through the kissing gate on the left across from the Ballinastoe Woods car park. You’ll then follow a fairly decent road downwards.
When you reach the white cottage (it’ll have a red sign pointing to Lough Dan) you take a left. Keep tipping along this road and you’ll pass a farm before crossing two little bridges.
The road ends after the second bridge. From this point, you need to look for the rugged old stone wall – you follow this for the remainder of this version of the Lough Tay walk (see map above).
There’s also a hike up Knocknacloghoge Mountain, but as it isn’t one we’ve done in the past I can’t recommend it here.
2. The Luggala Lough Tay hike (hard)
The second Lough Tay hike provides you with a mighty view out over inky-black water. The 2.5 to 3-hour Luggala hike is well worth a bash. This is a tough aul slog and you’ll need to be well prepared.
You’ll want to follow the same route as if you’re doing the Lough Tay to Lough Dan walk mentioned above, but you’ll be hanging a right (see map above).
This is a very steep climb and you’ll want to steer well clear of the cliffs/edge when you reach the top. On a clear day you’ll be treated to a breath-taking view of the Guinness Lake.
3. The hike up Djouce
The third 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
- King Arthur
- Becoming Jane
- P.S. I Love You
What to do after the Lough Tay walk
One of the beauties of the Guinness Lake walk is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best things to do 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)
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.
2. Powerscourt Waterfall (20 minutes away)
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
There’s loads of other hikes in Wicklow that you can take on after the Guinness Lake hike. Here are some of our favourites:
- Lough Ouler
- Ballinastoe Wood
- Glendalough walks
- Djouce Woods
- The Spinc
- Lugnaquilla (for experienced hikers)
- Sugarloaf Mountain
- Devil’s Glen
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.