To beat the rush of the day, we met early for breakfast, checked out, and made the short drive to Glendalough, the site of the ancient lakeside monastery tucked away in the Wicklow Hills. Glendalough means 'The Valley of the Two Lakes' and was established by St. Kevin in the 6th century. The monastery flourished for over 600 years. Many of the buildings date to the 10th and 12th centuries and some were restored in the 1870's.
You enter the site through a two-arch gatehouse and find yourself near the 100-ft high Round Tower and surrounding graveyard. The Priest's House was a burial place for clergy. The site is all about St. Kevin and St. Kevin's Cross and St. Kevin's Kitchen are some of the interesting ruins.
We took the walk around one of the lakes; deer, sheep and other wildlife happily feasted on the green grass. While we could have spent lots more time here, we pushed on to head north on the Military Road, built in 1800.
This road carries little traffic but carries the tourist through wild mountain terrain, sparsely populated forest and bog land covered in purple heather, through Sally Gap and on to Glencree.
We turned off to Powerscourt Waterfall, where the River Dargle cascades over granite rocks to form Ireland's highest waterfall. The drop is about 425 ft.
We were hungry by the time we got to Powerscourt House & Gardens and had lunch at the cafe there. Then, we embarked on our tour of the magnificent gardens. From Italian Gardens to Japanese Gardens, you are treated to some beautiful botanical views, rivaled only by the striking surrounding Sugar Loaf Mountain. The Tower Valley showcases intriguing trees and the tower was modeled on a pepper pot from Lord Powerscourt's dining table.
Water is a dominant feature of the gardens with Triton Lake, home of the Winged Horses, and the Dolphin Pond. There is a Walled Garden with vibrant colors and scents; and, of course, the 240-year old Bamberg Gate which came from the Cathedral at Bamberg in Germany. We had a fantastic day here and we were quite exhausted from all the walking.
We headed south to Avoca, where we were staying for the night. We had dinner at the Wooden Bridge, which is reputed to be the oldest hotel in Ireland. We were stuffed and took a walk to the Meeting of the Waters, where the Avonbeg and Avonmore Rivers converge.