Early alarm call, Ringway, Ryanair, hire car palaver and 45 minutes south of Dublin and we’re having a mid-morning drink and a packet of Tayto’s in beautiful Glendalough, County Wicklow.
“This place is an absolute jewel,” we’re told a few hours later at the summit of Lugduff (689m) by 75 year old Mary from Dublin, one of the few hikers we met on this glorious day. Mary was right, and like most of our unguided walks it took a few twists and turns.
We started out thinking we’d do the moderate Hill Walk in the local guide booklet, starting from Upper Lake, past the Poulanass waterfall, but the weather was so good we just kept going for 35,000 steps, up 182 floors and covering 28km. We climbed steeply through a logging forest, then onto a heather covered fell and up, and up to the summits of Lugduff, Mullacor (709m) and Cullentragh (520m). It is spectacularly beautiful and very well tended by the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service.
We’re here because of the family connection. From 1898 to 1938, the Glendalough Hotel was managed by Francis Slefer, Rachel’s great grandfather, an emigre from Cerhovice in Central Europe, an employment tradition that this delightful hotel has preserved, or more likely, revived.
The setting is glorious, the food has been sumptuous and more than anything the occasion has been just perfect.