My mother and I quickly learned something about driving in Ireland – don’t trust your GPS to get you where you need to go. Of course, that’s easier said than done in unfamiliar places, especially when traveling to some fairly remote sites. Finding ourselves lost in the rural countryside became a fairly common occurrence, but perhaps the most stunning of these misadventures was our drive through Sally Gap.
Until darting in from a sudden shower at Glendalough, I’d never heard of Sally Gap. We merely assumed the narrow road winding its way through the mountains was the only way to St. Kevin’s Monastery from Dublin. Imagine our surprise, then, when we learned we’d taken the scenic route and could’ve beaten the rain if we’d gone a different way!
Sally Gap is one of only two passes running east to west through the Wicklow Mountains, connecting Dublin and Glendalough. Its views are absolutely stunning, ranging from sheer drop offs to heather-filled bogs and evergreen forests as far as the eye can see. It’s no wonder the Gap’s also one of Ireland’s most filmed scenic locations, boasting ties to movies such as Braveheart, PS I Love You, and Leap Year.
But the road originally built by the British Army in the late 1700s remains narrow and winding. There were multiple times during the trip I felt uneasy vertigo grip me, even from my relatively safe place in the passenger’s seat. Getting out to walk or take pictures left me with feelings of dread, imagining what one false step could lead to.
Later that evening at dinner with a local friend in Bray, she couldn’t help but laugh hearing about our ride – a 50 minute trip that took nearly three hours. “There’s no cell reception out there! If you’d broken down, you would’ve had to walk for miles and hope you found a house to get help from!”
Though I know she’s right and wouldn’t want to live that nightmare, I’m glad we found our way to that lonely stretch of road. The views took our breath away more often than not and made for one last surprise before driving back to the airport the next morning.
If you wish to see more of photos from Sally Gap, please check out my dA account here.
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