This blog was written by Mark Zach, a guest at Ashfield Hostel in Feb ’15
When I think of Ireland, I think of the countryside. The rolling hills, mountains, cliffs peering over the shore, and valleys deep and filled with green fields. The countryside is as picture perfect as if it’s made just for the movies. As I planned my trip to Dublin, Ireland, there was one thing that I had my heart set on doing, visit the countryside. My girlfriend and I, both visiting from the United States of America, planned a 3-day trip to Dublin Ireland. Having heard good things about the Ashfield Hostel, we booked two nights there and were very impressed with the quality of the hostel as well as the coziness. We knew we’d spend time in Dublin, but made sure to set a day aside to visit the Irish countryside. I booked a tour that would take us through Glenndalough National Park and see sites from films such as Braveheart and P.S. I love you. As my plane began it’s descent into Dublin airport, I was very excited to spend a whole day on a tour of County Wicklow and Glenndalough National Park.
Unfortunately, my plans did not end up as expected and I could not make it on the organized tour to the mountains. We were the only ones booked on the tour for that day and the company therefore canceled that tour. With some help from the Dublin visitor center though I came up with plan B. With a plane to catch at 7 that night I needed to find a way to get to the mountains and back again by 5 pm. There is one bus company that takes travelers to the heart of the National Park, but it would not get us back in time to catch our flight to London. We ended up taking a local bus (the 44) from the city centre to its last stop out to the North edge of the Glenndalough National Park. I spent the hour bus ride watching the scenery change from a busy urban city to quiet, open country.
The bus dropped me off in Enniskerry, a small village in Wicklow. The town appears at the crossroads and could be passed if one was to blink. I began my journey towards Glenndalough, hiking along the country roads and bridges. I was immediately breathless at the beauty of the country of Ireland. Everything seemed much greener, open, and real. Off in the distance, I could see the mountains of Wicklow towering over the valleys. What was nice was that I was able to stop and take as many pictures as I liked not worrying about being rushed onto a tour bus to head to the next stop. Another bonus of doing my own personal Wicklow tour was that I was able to interact with the residents of Enniskerry, exchange greetings and even pet their dogs (I am a dog lover).
The destination of my hike was the Powers Court Waterfall. The waterfall is Ireland’s highest waterfall at 121 meters. Located in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, the waterfall is surrounded by giant redwood trees, native to Northern California. To get to the waterfall though prepare to do quite a bit of walking. To reach the falls I hiked 6 km. Honestly though the views of the falls were worth the long trek. The waterfall and park can be summed up in one word, breathtaking. I know it sounds cliché but the waterfall is absolutely too beautiful not to see in person. Trust me when I say pictures do not do it justice. Even the pictures that I took did not properly justify the steepness of the cliffs and waterfall. My girlfriend, who made this journey with me, was in awe at the towering slopes. We stopped at the waterfall for an hour taking pictures, interacting with other visitors, and grabbing a snack at the concession stand. It was definitely a magnificent view worth the long hike and I’d recommend the trip to anyone.
But all good things must come to an end and so we made our way back to the centre of Enniskerry to catch a bus home. Although we were more tired than before, our spirits were not diminished at all. Despite our original disappointment in not going on a bus tour through Wicklow, our own tour proved to be a fulfilling experience. We certainly hiked more than if we would have been on the bus tour. We were able to take in our surroundings. The bus fare cost a fifth of the bus tour ticket, and yet our experience was worth much more. Above all, I didn’t feel like a tourist. If you are traveling to Dublin I must insist on taking the time to see Wicklow and Glenndalough National Park. I would definitely consider hiking your own path. You know never what treasures you will find.
If you’d like to read more of Mark’s writing you can check out his blog at www.aharddayswrite.weebly.com