Showing posts with label Wicklow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wicklow. Show all posts

Monday, May 29, 2023

Wicklow. Two days in the Garden of Ireland May 2023


Two days in the Garden of Ireland May 2023

Glendalough. Round Tower and hotel

During a fairly busy 2-day trip to Wicklow, Ireland’s Garden County, we found the perfect spot to relax for a spell on the afternoon of the second day. It was at the well-placed Glendalough Hotel which has an outdoor spot by the river. Sat back there and enjoyed the chat while drinking nothing strong but bottles of sparkling water from Galway, watching the visitors come and go to Glendalough.

We had just visited the famous round tower nearby but, having already done our quota of walking for the day, didn't stroll around either of the two lakes on this occasion. Next time!

Wicklow Wolf's Elevation Ale in Lynam's

This latest trip to Wicklow had begun with a lovely visit to the excellent Wicklow Wolf Brewery in Newtownmountkennedy. You can read all about it, including its impressive sustainability programme and our chat with CEO Quincey Fennelly, here.

On our way to our room for the night, we remembered that breakfast wasn't included so we made a call to the Roundwood Food Store in the middle of what is claimed to be Ireland's highest village. It is a casual café with good food and coffee, by most accounts. It is also a deli and here we picked up a few bits and pieces for the following morning. They also sell wine and I noticed some local beer (Farringtons) on the shelves as well.

Seed Restaurant at Avondale Forest Park

On then to Laragh where we checked into our self-contained little house in a purpose-built terrace of similar accommodation collectively called Heather House. We had stayed here previously but then they had a breakfast arrangement with their neighbours the Wicklow Heather  Restaurant who now have new owners and the arrangement no longer holds. Read our separate post on Heather House here

Unable to get a table, because of a sold-out event at the Wicklow Heather, we strolled over to Lynam’s Bar & Hotel for dinner. Excellent service here from two hard-working and busy ladies. The food itself was adequate and the highlight was probably the Elevation Ale, the best-selling beer by Wicklow Wolf. That was on draught as was the same company’s Tundra Tropical IPA.

Tree Top Walk, Avondale. Every so often, there is a side attraction.
Here, on the left, you try and balance yourself on a thick rope

We left Heather House in the morning and headed for a highlight of our break: the relatively new Treetop Walk and Viewing Tower at Avondale Forest Park. Well worth the trip and you can read about it and see some spectacular photos here.

Viewing tower, from outside.
You could spend the day here. Avondale House was the home of Charles Stuart Parnell and guided tours are available. The estate has a huge amount of trees, some of them very large indeed and there are a number of walks on the grounds, beginning with relatively easy ones around the 3km distance. And sustenance is available at the new and impressive Seed restaurant that can cater for up to 250 people.

After our treetop walk and stroll to the top of the tower (both by the way are wheelchair and buggy accessible) and our ground-level walk (we took the Cairn route), we enjoyed a snack in the restaurant. And it was after that that we found our way to Glendalough.

It was a great day weatherwise and the sun was still strong as we checked in at the Woodenbridge Hotel; there has been a hospitality licence at the venue since 1608. Very friendly staff here and the food was really good. They didn't have Wicklow Wolf on draught but they had three taps pouring beers from the Wicklow Brewery (based at Redcross) and their Hopknut Irish Pale Ale soon became our favourite here.

Before dinner, we had taken a short walk over the bridge and it was there that we found the World War 1 memorial. Down by the river, a series of upright slabs recall the names of the 1,224 Wicklow people that died during the war, including no less than twenty-seven victims killed in a single incident on September 21 1917 in an explosion at the Kynoch Munitions factory in Arklow. 

WW1 Memorial at Woodenbridge

The 1224, including nine women, is a surprisingly high proportion for such a small county. They are remembered here with dignity in a beautiful spot by the River Aughrim. That was a sobering walk for us.

Our trip to Wicklow was book-ended by two fine lunches in small cafés. On the way up, via Dungarvan and Waterford, we were well fed by The Hungry Bear in Gorey (Co. Wexford) and on the way home, by Eamon and Ró in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. More on those pleasant stops here

Also on this trip to Wicklow:

Avondale's Beyond the Trees. Wicklow's Amazing New Attraction.

Two excellent pit-stops in the southeast for you. Hungry Bear in Gorey and Eamo & Ró at Kilmacthomas.

Places to stay in Wicklow: Woodenbridge and Heatherhouse.

Visiting Wicklow Wolf Brewery.

Wicklow. Two days in the Garden of Ireland May 2023

Monday, May 22, 2023

Avondale's Beyond The Trees. Wicklow's Amazing New Attraction.

 Avondale's Beyond The Trees. Wicklow's Amazing New Attraction

At the top, you get views of the mountains and more. Tired of walking? Take the slide to the bottom!

Journey beyond the trees at Avondale House and Forest Park, as you enjoy a truly immersive and unique experience in the forest.

Begin with a leisurely stroll along the fully accessible 1.4km walkway. Children’s play areas, and interpretive points along the way, will introduce you to a new perspective of the forest. Your journey culminates at the magnificent viewing tower, the first of its kind in Ireland. Take the gentle incline up through the tower to the impressive viewing platform, 38 metres above the forest floor, and enjoy a 360-degree view of Wicklow.

Close-up of pine cones from the tree top walk. Lots of info boards on the trees and the wildlife.

Looking up. It is an easy walk.

Get all the info you need for a visit here

Looking down and, yes, that is the slide!

Get all the info you need for a visit here

Queue starts to form for the slide.

Get all the info you need for a visit here

Viewing tower may be big
but doesn't have a major visual impact

Tree Top Walk

Get all the info you need for a visit here

Get all the info you need for a visit here

You can only get to the tower from the walk.
Access via this short well-lit tunnel

Also on this trip to Wicklow:

Avondale's Beyond the Trees. Wicklow's Amazing New Attraction.

Two excellent pit-stops in the southeast for you. Hungry Bear in Gorey and Eamo & Ró at Kilmacthomas.

Places to stay in Wicklow: Woodenbridge and Heatherhouse.

Visiting Wicklow Wolf Brewery.

Wicklow. Two days in the Garden of Ireland May 2023

Seed Café at Avondale

Seed is large, can cater for c.250. On two levels, the main cafe is lower, while a coffee cum pizza is at higher level adjacent to "courtyard' which people cross to access the Tree Top Walk.
Upper level of Seed Café and Store

Staff were plentiful and all helpful. Menu was short but the likes of their Meat Balls, Chicken Curry and Vegan offering all looked tempting. We had a scone, a pastry and a cuppa inside on the lower level. This looks like a blue cube on the outside but from. the inside, your view is clear. Lots of tables outside the glass and a play area as well, all in the old walled garden.
No shortage of room upstairs at Seed

On the higher level, aside from a shop, they also have "rustic" outdoor tables, some a bit further away that are for picnic use with your own food. 
With Coillte being involved, timber is very much in use as structure and decor.
Looking out to the front

Seed at lower level.

Get all the info you need for a visit here

Choice of walk (at ground level!) in the Avondale woods
Over the years there has been a selection of walks in the extensive Avondale woods and that still continues. With over 500 acres of mature woodland with trees from all over the world available to explore and enjoy we, after our high jinks earlier, selected the Cairn Walk, one of the shorter ones at 3km. A very enjoyable ramble in the dappled sunshine.

Avondale House, former home of CS Parnell. Guided tours available.

Get all the info you need for a visit here

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Go Wild in West Wicklow! When the time is right.


Getting out in nature has never been more important for both our physical and mental health, equally, we all need something to look forward to – a break away from our homes, the drudgery of lockdown and a change of scenery.  So, when the time is right, and when we can all travel again why not consider a socially distanced getaway and go wild in West Wicklow? Walking, hiking and biking and just ‘being in nature’ and the wild countryside helps us to reset our stressed and worried minds and bodies.  Base yourself at Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort in Blessington Co. Wicklow and discover the best the Garden County has to offer with its wild mountains, lakes, forests and verdant valleys.

This stunning, 4-star resort is set on the shores of the Blessington Lakes, at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains.  It comprises of a luxurious hotel which has recently been completely renovated, an 18-hole championship golf course and several self-catering lodges. The Manor House at the heart of the resort dates from the 18th century and has been sympathetically restored to its former glory, boasting opulent fabrics, open log burning fires and original antique furniture. 

The newest addition to the property is the stunning hotel restaurant, Fia Rua.  It overlooks the 18th hole of the championship golf course and enjoys incredible vistas across the lakes and to the mountains beyond.  The restaurant is a very large space and has several private booths, allowing for greater social distancing for diners.

Tulfarris has several walking and exploring packages on offer and is ideal for those of us looking to be pampered but also wanting to get out in the fresh air.  Guests on the walking packages can enjoy hikes along The Wicklow Way or strolls around the shores of the Blessington Lakes.  The nearby Blessington Greenway Trail offers walkers a great opportunity to take in lake, mountain and forest vistas all at once. The pretty villages of Ballyknocken, Valleymount and Lacken are also very interesting and within a short drive of Tulfarris.    

 Guests may also easily access the nearby, historic Russborough House, reputed to be the longest house in Ireland.  Russborough is only a short walk away from the hotel and is certainly worth a visit. Designed by Richard Cassels, Russborough was built in 1755 and is a fine example of Palladian architecture. Outside, the walled garden, maze and extensive, mature parkland is a delight to explore with its myriad of ancient, native trees and plants.  The 200-acre estate is also home to the National Bird of Prey Centre where owls, falcons and birds of prey from all over the world can be found.

The Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort ‘Walking In Wicklow’ package includes two nights bed and breakfast, a 3-course dinner in Fia Rua and a picnic lunch and is priced from €189 per person sharing.  Guests will be provided with walking maps and can avail of a 20% discount on admissions to Russborough House. Self-catering options are also available in the onsite three-bedroom cottages while the Manor House is available for exclusive hire upon request (separate, exclusive hire rates apply).

To book the ‘Walking In Wicklow’ package log on to or call (045) 867 600.

Monday, March 2, 2020


Media release
Tulfarris Exterior Signature Shot

There are so many beautiful spaces in Wicklow to be explored from the Blessington Lakes covering over 5000 acres of glistening water, the 6th Century Glendalough Monastery to the spectacular Wicklow Mountains. Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort, Blessington, Co. Wicklow has two packages centred around exploring the very best of Ireland’s Ancient East.
The Beautiful Blessington Package is a two-night bed and breakfast package (from €149 per person sharing) designed for the outdoor enthusiast. Guests can explore the majestic Wicklow Mountains, stroll leisurely in the great outdoors and soak up the peace and tranquility of Ireland’s Ancient East. Guests will be given a touring map of the best walking routes around the area along with a freshly prepared picnic as they set off on their adventure around the Blessington Greenway. Later, guests can sit back and relax over a three-course meal served in the newly refurbished Fia Rua restaurant with spectacular panoramic views of the Blessington Lakes.  
The Active Wicklow Package is designed for guests who love an action-packed getaway! This 2 night/ 3-day experience includes bed and breakfast (from €209 per person sharing) and offers the best of both worlds with active days and luxurious nights at the heart of the package. The package includes a half day experience at CP Adventures, dinner on one evening, touring maps of Wicklow and a freshly prepared picnic.
After checking in, guests can begin their activities with a hike to Lugnaquilla peak, standing at 925 metres tall, Lugnaquilla is the highest mountain in Ireland outside of Kerry. Tulfarris will provide guests with a freshly prepared picnic so guests can enjoy lunch whilst taking in the picturesque scenery from the top of the mountain.
The second day, guests can enjoy a half day experience with CP Adventures where there is a range of activities on offer including zipline, climbing walls, archery, bungee trampolines, abseiling, orienteering, clay pigeon shooting, canoeing, paddle boarding and kayaking.
All the fun filled activities in the fresh Wicklow air is sure to work up an appetite! Guests can enjoy a three-course evening meal in Fia Rua Restaurant that evening while experiencing the breathtaking views of Tulfarris lakeside setting.
Before checking out, guests can explore the Blessington Greenway. This is a 6.5km walk along the shores of Blessington Lake linking the town of Blessington with the 18th Century Russborough House. It passes close to the deserted medieval settlement of Burgage More, where there is a ruined castle. The beautiful scenery around the lake, with the backdrop of the Wicklow Mountains, can be enjoyed on foot or by bicycle with the terrain also suitable for buggies. 
Glendalough is a must visit when exploring the Garden County. This historic site is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the “Monastic City”. Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th to the 12th centuries. Despite attacks by Vikings over the years, Glendalough thrived as one of Ireland’s great religious foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D.
Situated just 40 minutes from Dublin, Tulfarris enjoys a location steeped in history, heritage and extraordinary scenery. The resort comprises of a luxury 4-star hotel, 18-hole championship golf course, clubhouse, conference centre, banqueting suites, an award-winning restaurant and bar. The 18th century Manor House sits at the heart of the resort and its classic design and elegant proportions are typical of the 18th century architecture of the time.
PREM Group purchased the 90-bedroom hotel in 2016 and since then have already spent over €6 million on the property to return the luxury 18th century Manor House and its surrounding grounds to their former glory. The initial renovation programme saw 16 new bedrooms being added to the Wicklow property while the bridal suite, foyer, drawing and library rooms of the Manor House have been tastefully transformed to enhance the wedding experience at the luxury resort. 
For more information on Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort or to make a booking see or call (045) 867 600

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Hospitality Alive and Well at The Wicklow Heather

Hospitality Alive and Well
 at The Wicklow Heather

At first glance, the inside of the Wicklow Heather, looks like something from a previous century: paintings in gilded frames, old posters for food and drink on the walls, even on the rafters along with copper pots and black bastibles. But then you meet the modern multi-national crew and you realise this place is full of chatty people all determined in the politest friendliest way to make sure you have a memorable meal in this roadside pub in Laragh in the beautiful heart of the county.
Babaganoush starter

And that was exactly what happened during our evening meal. Irish produce well cooked in a variety of styles - everything from Irish stew to Babaganoush - and served with a smile. Quality and yes, quantity too, on the plate. And since there is a full bar here, they have all kinds of drinks. I usually look for the local and enjoyed Glendalough Whiskey (a tasting trio) and an IPA from Wicklow Wolf.

And at the end there was a surprise. “Would you like a drink? On the house.” Yes of course, and we gladly accepted the Bailey’s. Cheers to the Heather and all that sail in her.

We were back for breakfast - they have B&B rooms about 100 metres away. And here that generosity was present again, firstly in a glass, a large glass, of freshly squeezed orange juice. Then a gentleman who had just finished his breakfast met two friends as he was about to exit. So he told the waitress he’d sit and talk with the friends for a while and she made sure he had a cup of tea or coffee while he chatted.

Seafood Salad: a massive plate of warmed grilled fish, smoked salmon Gravlax with avocado and King Prawn with Marie Rose sauce and more!

After breakfast, we had a chance to take a look at the three adjoining dining rooms here (not possible the evening before as the place was packed). The biggest is the amazing Irish Writer’s Room with books and memorabilia displayed on the walls including a first edition first issue of Gulliver’s Travels (the oldest book here, printed in 1726)! Plenty more from the likes of Joyce, Yeats, Keane, Heaney and more! Indeed they also have a first edition, first issue of Ulysses by James Joyce. And if you’d like a drink while you take in the books, then their famous Irish Whiskey Bar is in the corner of this room.
Local venison (above) and beef feature on the menu.

The Heather’s B&B units are excellent. You have your own “house” in a small terrace. Basically, ours was one rather large room, neatly divided into a sitting area with sofa and TV; a corner with sink, fridge, kettle and espresso machine; and two sleeping section (one double, one single). And, we also had a spacious bathroom with toilet, sink, plus separate bath and shower. Very comfortable all round. Everything well maintained and in good working order (lights, heating, TV, Wifi). If you’re heading to Wicklow then the Wicklow Heather is Very Highly Recommended. We paid ninety euro for the B&B on October 1st.
Custard tart

This, our second day in Wicklow, saw the heavy rain still around as we left Powerscourt Hotel. But rain or no rain, we were determined to see the Powerscourt Waterfall (video below). Paid the entry fee and reached the car park. That is a few hundred yards away from the falls, so we walked in. It was absolutely spectacular - no doubt the flow was enhanced by the recent rains - and well worth the walk and the soaking. Luckily, I was able to use the toilet block to change my pants.
Sitting area in the B&B

On these kind of trips, you should always put some place on your list as a rainy day option and we had earmarked Sea Life on the promenade in Bray. The wind was wild - whipping the waves that crashed onto the shore - as we walked the few hundred yards from the car park, lucky that the rain was taking a break. 

It is not the biggest aquarium you’ll come across but has much of interest. No guide as such but there is a friendly pro-active person going around who’ll give you all the information you need and will also round up visitors at feeding times. They have all kinds of fish here from the tiny guppy to rays and sharks. You’ll also see a softback turtle.

The rain was back when we returned to the car but this time the Wicklow Heather and its warm welcome was just about 30 minutes away and after that the day just got better and better. The sun was even shining as we checked out the following morning and we had fine views as we drove through the Wicklow Gap heading for the motorway back to the south.
The sheep lane on the Wicklow Gap
Also on this trip: