It’s not often our day starts by walking over large stones to cross a river, with views of steep, wooded mountains in the background. Once safely over the river, we walked a few minutes to the monastic city founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. It’s a bit surreal to imagine early Christian monks and their followers walking over the same rough stones through the rounded arches of the Gateway, which continues to mark the entrance into the old city.
We wandered among the weathered stone tombstones, the inscriptions lost to time. Above everything stands the Round Tower, which at 104′ looms over the rest of the town. The Cathedral was the largest church building, and as we walked around the interior we had a sense of its size.
A small church with a stone roof is known as St. Kevin’s Kitcen. Churches usually had wooden or thatch roofs, but this stone roof remains complete.
We followed a broad road that wound past the Lower Lake, and then on to the Upper Lake. The walking today is easy, especially compared to the steep and muddy paths we’ve been on the previous two days. As we walked along the Upper Lake, we spied St. Kevin’s bed, a small cave about 26′ above the lake. The story goes that when St. Kevin tired of the bustle of the monastic city, he retreated to this remote cave for quiet contemplation.
The gravel path is now known as the Miner’s Road and leads to an abandoned miners’ village at the end of the Upper Lake. Lead, zinc and silver were mined here for about 200 years starting in the mid 1700’s. Only low stone walls remain of the village, and the large rocks in this part of the valley are now home to feral goats.
Our walk ended at mid-day so we could catch the 2:30pm train back to Dublin. We enjoyed the company of yet another friendly Irishman who told us stories of driving trucks all over the world. Our senses were jarred as the train brought us from the quiet, wooded Wicklow Mountains back to the packed throngs and noise of Dublin.