Wicklow cottage with mountain and lake views as far as the eye can see on the market for €345k
Mountain and lake view
There was once a small village called Ballinahown in the spot where Blessington Lake now sprawls. The residents in this area were rehoused in 1940 in anticipation of the flooding of the valley for the Poulaphouca hydroelectric power station.
A handful of towns were submerged by the damming of the River Liffey, to enable the newly created reservoir to provide vital water and electricity for Dublin city.
When the waters drop to low levels, visitors to the lake have noted how eerie the place can feel, with the old road of the flooded village of Ballinahown becoming visible. The towns may be gone (under water at least), but the lake, which sits at the edge of the Wicklow mountains, is now an important habitat for wildlife, particularly water birds like the smew, goosander and osprey.
Braccan Cottage sits on the banks of Blessington Lake and makes the most of surrounding lake and mountain views.
When the owners bought the property, there was only a small three-room cottage, built around 1905, on the site. In 1993, they worked on transforming it into a split-level lakeside residence that they used as a holiday home.
At 1,400 sq ft, Braccan Cottage would provide plenty of living space for weekends and holidays with friends and family.
You enter the house into a large gallery hallway that overlooks the living areas below. On this level you have three bedrooms and a bathroom. One of the bedrooms has double doors out onto the balcony with views of the lakes. Another bedroom is part of the old cottage and has a pine-vaulted ceiling and a door to the rest of the older part of the property.
On the ground floor, the large living room has a double-height ceiling, a wood-burning stove and a built-in study area under the stairs. There is a bay window with window seats so you can sit and admire the view, no matter what the weather.
The kitchen has wooden, country-style units and dual-aspect windows, looking over the gardens to the rear and the lakes to the front. There is also a shower room on this level.
The original cottage has three rooms: the aforementioned bedroom and two rooms currently used for storage. The rooms are in good condition and wouldn't take too much work to recondition, and perhaps create an independent living space for guests. There are still period features, with a large open hearth in one room and a cast-iron fireplace in the other.
The house sits on one acre of well-kept grounds, which may well be its greatest selling point. From a rear porch door you walk out onto a stone patio and before you lie gardens with raised beds, colourful shrubbery and granite steps down to the vast lawn with its gazebo. There is a wooded area to the side of the property, which ensures complete privacy from the road above.
The house has oil-fired central heating, a mains water supply and a septic tank.
Lacken Village in Wicklow is 38km from Dublin and would take just over an hour to get to by car on the N81. You can stroll to Lacken from the house for a pint in Zellers Inn, but not much more.
The local shop closed about two and a half years ago so a trip to Blessington, less than five minutes' away by car, is necessary for supermarkets and restaurants.
Ballyknockan is a quaint village about 6km south of Lacken that has a couple of pubs and places to eat, and is popular with tourists looking for accommodation in the area.
What to do
There are plenty of leisure activities around the lake so you'll never have to travel far for entertainment.
Avon Rí Adventure Centre in Blessington is a holiday village-style resort that provides land-based activities like clay pigeon shooting, zip-lining, climbing walls and air rifle shooting. Its water-based pursuits include windsurfing, kayaking and power boat training. It also has a pool and gym with personal trainers and classes.
With 50 miles of shoreline, the lakes offer excellent coarse and pike fishing for anglers. A permit for all types of fishing is required and boats can be hired from Blessington Lake Boat Hire in Ballyknockan.
Russborough House and Parklands is only 11km away and offers a great day out. You can take a guided tour of the mansion, which was designed in 1741 and is reputed to be one of the longest houses in Ireland, with a frontage of 700ft. The house is probably best known for its history of art collections, and thefts.
Sir Alfred Beit bought the property in 1952 where he housed his family's art collection, including works by Goya, Vermeer and Peter Paul Rubens. This collection was stolen four times: in 1974 for an IRA gang; in 1986 by Martin 'The General' Cahill; in 2001, and in 2002 by Cahill's associate Martin Foley. Most of the paintings were recovered, with some still on view at the house and the others donated to the State.
An auction of some of the Old Master paintings was to be held last year to secure the future of the Russborough estate, but was postponed following public outcry. This auction is now set to take place in London next month and will include 'Venus Supplicating Jupiter' by Rubens and 'Aurora and Cephalus' by French artist Francois Boucher.
On the grounds of Russborough is a 20,000 sq ft head-high hedge maze, a number of craft workshops, including a blacksmith with working forge and a weaver with working loom, and the Kitchen Garden Café.
Eating and drinking
Close to home, Zellers Inn is a short walk away from Braccan Cottage for a few drinks.
In Blessington, West Wicklow House is a traditional Irish pub that's renowned for its lively atmosphere and decent bar menu.
The Blessington Bookstore Coffee Shop on the main street is a great place to sit back with a novel and enjoy a coffee and home-baked cake. The Lemon Tree is a Chinese restaurant that's very popular with locals.
Being so close to Dublin means there is always an influx of daytrippers, mostly families and keen anglers, especially those in search of Blessington Lake's ferocious pike.
Apart from the roads getting a bit busier, these visitors don't really affect life in Lacken too much. Many people in the area commute into the capital each day.
What's not to like
Braccan Cottage has a large garden to tend, so if you're not a fan of getting outside with the gloves on, you may want to pick a property with a smaller patch.
Lacken, Co Wicklow
Asking price: €345,000
Agent: JP&M Doyle, (045) 865568
Holiday properties on the market