Ireland is filled with hidden gems - some are just a little bit harder to find than others.
Ireland is filled with many outdoor adventures and hidden gems, it's just that some are more tedious to find amongst the mountain and valleys across the Emerald Isle. In light of Valentine's Day, we thought we would tell you all about Lough Ouler or the 'The Lake of Love' as some call it, Ireland's very own heart-shaped lake tucked away at the feet of the Tonelagee Mountains.
Not only will you see Ireland's heart-shaped lake in all its glory, but it also looks over the Wicklow mountains giving you the finest 360° panoramic views of neighbouring hills. It really is something else.
However, it's no easy task to get there.
There is no exact route and you will need proper hiking equipment as you make your way through the hour-long uphill, boggy track to the catch a glimpse of this glorious corrie lake. It can be distinctively seen from the eastern side of the Wicklow mountains.
Aside from hiking, many go swimming in the lake, set up camp for a night or two, dabble in fishing and there's plenty of geocaches to be found in the surrounding woods and around the lake itself.
Getting to Lough Ouler:
With your hiking boots, GPS, trekking poles, snacks and drinks we recommend you park at the Glenmacnass Waterfall carpark. Most routes are tedious enough for hikers of all levels but we like this one personally as we find it a little prettier than the others. It's a loop walk which starts at your car, looping you around the Lough Ouler and back to the carpark again.
Once parked make your way across the river's stepping stones, be careful though, you don't want to be wet and soggy before the real trek begins.
Take a right once you have crossed and keep walking straight until you clear the woods.
From here you can start making your decent up the hill following in a clockwise direction, although keep to the edge of the woods. There is a pathway but it becomes overgrown, especially in the summer months.
For roughly 100m it is a gradual uneven climb so take all the time you need.
The route then levels off and from here you should be able to see Tonelagee hidden amongst the valleys.
Once you reach the top of the woods you should find an old road, follow this road keeping to the right. There will a be on off-road to the left, take this turn. It will lead you to Tonalagee.
Continue northwards towards Stoney Top. After a while, you should see a standing stone with a cross carved into it.
From here you can start making your descent, keeping to the right and following the edge of the lough.
Here you should find a clear path running alongside Lough Brook which flows out from Lough Ouler.
Continue on this route which will bring you to the Glenmacnass river where you will return to the stepping stones and the carpark. Or you can do as many have done before and do a u-turn and come back the way you did, saving yourself a trek around the whole Lough.
Either way, the scenery is incredible and it's a pitch-perfect picnic spot on a sunny afternoon or maybe even a proposal?
Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of 4 kids aged 2, 3, 4 and 8 (and she is expecting baby #5 in May). A self-confessed procrastinator and picker-upper of things, Kellie would never turn down a coffee and she loves to travel and share every day true to life moments on Instagram of her expanding family. Follow her daily adventures on Instagram.