You can't really miss Glendalough once you get close. There is a large sign and marker. However, I was pretty sure they moved the actual visitor centre and site around because it wasn't where I remembered it. After a couple of false starts, we found the correct car park and walked to the visitor centre. We were going to purchase a Duchas Heritage site pass here, but they didn't have a cash machine and we didn't have enough cash. They let us in for free on our word that we would buy a pass in Dublin. (We did.) We took a quick look around the centre and headed for the main entrance. We walked up through the main arch and into the entryway with the large stone that indicated one was safe from pursuers in the good old days.
As you walk past the entrance you are in the main graveyard area. There are headstones everywhere and from a range of dates and times. To the right is the large and fairly intact round tower. Ahead is the ruins of the main church and outbuildings with the top of St. Kevin's Chapel barely visible through the trees. There are packs of people roaming through the site, and many standing on the stones with no more sense of where they are than if there were in their own backyard. With a little patience you can avoid most of them by just moving where they are not. In the end it evens out and you'll be able to see it all and get some good pictures too. There are tours and they can be interesting. We tagged along on one and managed to get inside St. Kevin's, but ditched them afterwards. There are a lot of nooks and crannies to explore and some large high crosses nestled in out of the way spots. The area is surrounded by the mountains and there are lots of trees and plants growing around and amongst the stones. You can go through a lot of film (or memory cards) here. There is a lot of nice scenery and great lighting because of the trees.
Since the weather was so nice we decided to take the hike up to the upper lakes and St. Kevin's Cell. The path is more of a road and varies in width as you go along. There is a stream you cross over twice and there is a great view from the first bridge towards St. Kevin's. The walk is quite easy and there are incredible views of the mountains and countryside as you walk along. You can look back and see the round tower and a meadow full of sheep. There are other ruins of chapels along the way and well worth the look. There is an especially interesting wall with stone steps that are worn smooth and into a cupped depression from constant use. One can feel the history in the rocks and almost visualize the monks going about their tasks here. The first lake is low and easy to access. There is swimming and other touristy mayhem available. The water looked inviting as the sun rose higher and warmer, but we pressed onward. There is a slow rise in elevation as you walk until eventually you can look down into the second lake. There is a wide panoramic view near St. Kevin's Cell that is quite spectacular. It is a bit of a hike up through the trees, but not to difficult. The trail has rails and is well kept up.
We took the walk back which was easier that the walk up. Downhill is easier. The weather had grown warmer and we shed our Columbia Sportswear jackets (these were to prove a great investment as they stuffed into a small pocket and were hooded and waterproof). There was more wonderful scenery on the return trip as you were facing the opposite way and saw new perspectives. Definitely pack water along, as this walk will dry you out on a warm day. We returned to the car, drank a lot of warm Club soda and packed in for the return drive to Dublin.