Welcome to Lough Ouler In Wicklow: Ireland’s Heart-Shaped Lake (Hiking Guide + Photos)

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Yes, you read the title of this article correctly and no, there isn’t some kind of photoshop wizardry going on.

Lough Ouler in Wicklow is a lake that’s shaped like a big aul heart.

We originally published this guide in 2017, but it’s due a bit of a revamp judging by the amount of mails that hit my inbox asking about where to find it and how you reach it.

Let’s get cracking.

Your guide to getting to Lough Ouler in 2019

Before we get to the guide, here it is from the sky in all it’s glory ?

Masterfully snapped by the folks at SkyCam Ireland.

lough outer wicklow
Photo by SkyCam Ireland

Firstly: Lough Ouler Directions/How to Climb Tonelagee

You’ll find Lough Ouler in the Wicklow Mountains, at the side of Tonelagee Mountain, the 33rd highest mountain in Ireland and the 3rd highest peak in the Wicklow Mountains.

It’s from the summit of Tonelagee that you’ll be treated to a view of Ireland’s unique heart-shaped lake.

lough ouler wicklow
Photo by Rob Hurson

Where to start the climb

Park your car at the little car park at the top of Glenmacnass waterfall. This car park is isolated – leave nothing of value visible in the car.

Note: From the beginning of your Lough Ouler climb, you’ll notice that paths can be difficult to find and, unsurprisingly, the area is wet and boggy – wear hiking boots and be careful (more on this in a minute…).

If you haven’t taken a look at Glenmacnass Waterfall yet, you can take a short stroll out of the carpark to the right (be vigilant for cars coming towards you) and admire it from above.

What to do next

After leaving your car, head towards the trees and river.

You’ll see stepping stones that you can use to cross – be careful here, again. Walk along the bank to the right and you’ll quickly reach the edge of the woods.

Once you reach the edge of the woods, you may (emphasis on ‘may’) be able to find a path. It can be difficult to spot (we struggled to find it when we were here in winter).

lough outer county wicklow directions
Photo by Vera Lopes

When you find the path, start to climb. Keep going and you’ll see Tonelagee in the distance once you reach the top of the woods.

Apparently there’s an old road that runs along the top of the woods, but we didn’t see it when we were there.

If you find it, follow it to the right and you’ll find a path that’ll lead you up to Tonelagee where you can head for the summit.

Take your time and enjoy the views out over Lough Ouler that you’ll be treated to on the way.

What not to do on the way down ? ?

I climbed Lough Ouler a while back, and made an absolute balls of things on the way down.

We decided to come back the way we went up, but this was a mistake, and the descent was fairly dodgy at times.

I should have taken note from the incredibly detailed guide created by the lads at Wicklow Walks (a great resource for anyone looking to explore Wicklow).

Here’s what they recommend:

From the summit, follow the path northwards towards Stoney Top keeping Lough Ouler on your right. After a short distance you’ll see a standing stone with cross carved on it. At the standing stone bear right and start descending.

Lough Ouler will still be on the right. Note that it is also possible to continue on to Stoney Top and descend from there, but it can be very boggy so I wouldn’t recommend it.

Still on the fence about visiting? This may sway you!

Here’s a look at it as the sun starts to drop from Alan Murphy.

For those of you that give our one-day Wicklow road trip a go, you could add this in and remove a couple of the activities at the end of the day.

Lough Ouler FAQs

For those of you that still have questions, here’s some more info. If I’ve missed anything, feel free to leave your question in the comments section below and I’ll reply asap.

These are the two most frequently asked questions, aside from directions, that hit my inbox.

Where is the Lough Ouler car park?

  • You can park your car at the top of Glenmacnass Waterfall. If you’ve driven the Sally Gap and are driving towards Glenmacnass, you’ll see the carpark to the right before you reach the waterfall.

Can you go swimming at Lough Ouler?

  • I know very little about outdoor swimming in Ireland, but you can find more info on this here.

And that's a wrap!
Have you visited Lough Ouler before? Let me know how you found the hike in the comments below!

Howaya!The purpose of this site is to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories.No spam. Clickbait. Or boll*x. Ever.Keith

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