Through the gardens of the east

Route:

Carlow, Wicklow


Features:

Borris House, Altamont Gardens, Glendalough, Powerscourt House & Gardens

Journey Overview:

This is a bite-size journey through Ireland’s Ancient East, taking in some of the most verdant gardens and picturesque estates in the country. Whatever the season, these gardens hold surprising discoveries for those of all ages; whether it’s a spring picnic on the lawn or a blustery autumn walk through the rose gardens, you’ll find something to pique your interest. From the 18th century ornamentation of Carlow, to the wild and rugged beauty of Glendalough, your journey through the gardens of Ireland’s Ancient East will leave you with a true taste of the landscape.

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Day

Day 1
The Round Tower at Glendalough

Day 1

  • 1 hr
  • 40 mins
  • 80 km
  • 50 miles

Route:

Carlow, Wicklow


Points Of Interest:

Borris House, Altamont Gardens

Journey Overview:

Start your two-day journey in Carlow, at stunning Borris House, home to the McMorrough Kavanaghs, former High Kings of Leinster. Rebuilt in the early 18th century, the house features a beautiful Stapleton ceiling, antiques, artwork and many examples of the legendary Borris Lace. Take a guided tour to immerse yourself in the world of the Big Houses of yore, then explore the nooks and crannies of the Borris Demesne, framed against the backdrop of Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs Mountain. When your wander is finished, grab a coffee and a snack on Main Street in the adjoining town of Borris before taking the road north east towards Wicklow.

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The next stop on your journey through some of the gardens of Ireland’s Ancient East is Carlow’s 19th century Robinsonian-style Altamont Gardens, where over 5,000 plants and flowers await. The estate offers an intriguing blend of formal and informal gardens with riverside walks across 40 acres. A trail through the arboretum, bog garden and Ice Age Glen with a canopy of ancient oaks and huge stone outcrops leads all the way to the River Slaney. The seasonal coffee shop shuts down in autumn, so it’ll be on to the picturesque neighbouring county of Wicklow to refuel.

Continue on into the "Garden of Ireland" to see Wicklow's hills bloom with beautiful greens, flecked with purple heather. Travel into the heart of the serenity in Glendalough, famed for its two lakes and spiritual atmosphere. You’ll have the chance to explore in the morning – for now, it’s time to continue on to the small town of Laragh, where dinner and a good night’s rest awaits at a B&B, guesthouse or hotel.

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Day 2
View from the Powerscourt Estate of the Sugarloaf Mountain

Day 2

  • 0 hrs
  • 32 mins
  • 27 km
  • 17 miles

Route:

Wicklow


Points Of Interest:

Glendalough, Powerscourt House & Gardens

Journey Overview:

In the monastic village of Glendalough, cast your mind back to what the spot must have been like in its heyday as a retreat for peace-seeking monks. But as you wander off into the surrounding hills, spare a thought for St Kevin who was drawn here in the 6th century by the serenity and beauty of the landscape. Walk to the water's edge at the upper lake, before heading to the fern-green hills around Poulanass waterfall, which cascades gently over mossy rocks.

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Back on the road, pass through the villages of Annamoe and Roundwood, stopping off in Roundwood for refreshments. Next it’s on to pretty Enniskerry, on the outskirts of which is one of the county's jewels – Powerscourt House and Gardens. The magnificence of the estate here really is quite something, with its grand Palladian frontage and baroque domed towers; so much so that one architectural historian described it as possessing “the massive dignity of a great Italian Renaissance villa.” 

Enjoy a coffee on the terrace overlooking the gardens, before stepping down the grand staircase into the world-famous gardens, complete with Japanese garden, pet cemetery and gracious statues. There are plenty of lunch and dinner options in nearby Enniskerry, the perfect end to a perfect day. 

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