Monday, we had another tour, although this one didn’t start quite so early. We woke up around 7 and, after getting ready, started walking back into Dublin. We got breakfast along the way and then waited for our tour back at the Dublin Tourism Information Center. Today, we would be heading south into the Wicklow Mountains area with Hilltop Treks. Our tour guide was Emily and once everyone was on board the bus, we headed to the outskirts of Dublin. Sandy and I were doing a guided walk, along with two girls from Norway, while the rest of the group was going to Powerscourt Gardens. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to do both. After dropping the others off at Powerscourt, we headed back towards Enniskerry and then a short ways up R117 to a pull off on the side of the road. From here, we started hiking along the Dublin Mountains Way into Barnaslingan Wood. Shortly, we made a quick stop at The Scalp Lookout, where we had nice views of the surrounding mountains and could see where the road passes through the Scalp. The Scalp is a narrow glacial valley through which R117 passes. The summits are quite wooded, in contrast to the bald, rocky slopes where we had stopped. We even saw a feral goat on the steep hill. Then we continued on the trail, passing through some open areas. At one point, a very deep puddle blocked our way and we had to hop a fence to pass through a field and stay dry. We then entered Carrickgollogan and continued on Dublin Mountains Way. Near the summit of this hill, we took a detour off the main trail and hiked up the rather steep Mountain Access Trail to the summit of Carrickgollogan. From here, we had wonderful views in all directions. We could see the Irish Sea to the east, all of Dublin to the north, and the surrounding Wicklow and Dublin Mountains in the other directions. It was very windy up here, though and we could see storm clouds in the distance. After getting some pictures, we started hiking back. Back at Barnaslingan, we took the Scalp Lookout Trail to head back in a slightly different way than we had come and soon were back at the bus. Emily dropped us off in Enniskerry, where we would have lunch at Poppies and went to pick up the rest of the group. I had the Poppies Chicken and Sandy had a chicken panini and we both enjoyed our meal. It's a small restaurant and as the others from the tour starting returned and the restaurant filled up, I was getting claustrophobic. So after finishing lunch, I walked around the quaint little village of Enniskerry for a bit as I waited for everyone else to finish their lunch and got some pictures of the town. From Enniskerry, we drove up an old road into the mountains towards Glencree and then got on the Old Military Road heading into Wicklow Mountains National Park. The mountains here were bare of forest, with primarily rock and bogs covering the land, along with the occasional lake. Emily told us about the history of the area and even sung a few traditional Irish songs, both in English and Irish Gaelic. At Sally Gap, we turned left on R759 and made a quick photo stop for this rugged landscape. A small cascade flowed under the road and our tour guide told us that this area was used in the filming of PS I Love You and Braveheart. Then we continued on to another photo stop on a ledge high above Lough Tay, also called Guinness Lake as the family had an estate here. Additionally, the lake’s waters were nearly black, except for a white sandy beach area at the northern end of the lake - thus resembling the dark color of Guinness with a creamy head. From here, we got back on more-trafficked roads and made our last stop at Glendalough. Glendalough was the highlight of this tour and although we didn’t have much time, it was a very enjoyable visit. We started off near the visitor center and while some in the group used the restroom, I took some pictures of rhododendron. I asked Emily if these plants were native to Ireland and she told me no - they were a species from Malaysia, and while beautiful, were invasive and harmful to native flora. But nonetheless, they made for a beautiful sight and it was good timing that we were here in Ireland while the rhododendron were blooming. From the parking area, we walked over to the Monastic City in the lower valley and spent some time walking around and viewing the ancient sites. The round tower looked a lot bigger than what I had seen in pictures and the graves were beautiful. I really liked the Glendalough crosses on many of the gravestones. St. Kevin’s Kitchen remarkably still had its stone roof intact, while the large cathedral was missing its roof, but was the largest and most impressive structure. After some time exploring in the lower valley, we headed towards the lakes following the Green Road boardwalk trail. First, we passed the lower lake and then came to the parking area for the upper lake. There was a small unnamed waterfall on a stream flowing into the lake and then I walked over to the Upper Lake for a couple of quick pictures. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to spend here, but the lake was absolutely beautiful, surrounded on both sides by mountains. After a couple pictures, we rushed back to the bus and made our way back to Dublin. Due to heavy traffic in the city, Emily dropped us off near Temple Bar. It’s a real tourist-trap area, but was fun to walk through and do a bit of people-watching. We had sushi for dinner and then went back to O’Donoghue’s for some drinks with our favorite bartender. By the time we were ready to walk home, it was actually dark, I think the first time we had seen darkness since arriving in Ireland.