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.
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’.
- 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) 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)
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
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.
- Retrace your steps and head back to Lough Tay that way.
- Walk towards the cottage at the head of Lough Dan and make your return left along the old road.
2. The hike up Djouce
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
- 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 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)
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)
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
- Glendalough walks
- Djouce Woods
- 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.