Take a Walk: Glendalough

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Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland, renowned for an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. The name means the Glen of the Two Lakes. 

Miners’ Road Walk

From 1825 to 1957, the head of the Glendalough Valley was the site of a galena lead mine. This walk skirts one side of the Upper Lake. The trail passes through Scots Pine woodlands before reaching the ruined Miners’ Village. Halfway along the trail, the cave known as St. Kevin’s bed can be seen across the lake. Feral goats are common on this walk. Peregrine falcons may on occasion be seen high in the sky soaring and calling each other.

Poulanass and St. Kevin’s Cell

This trail climbs steeply up alongside the Poulanass Waterfall before leading you to the upper reaches of Derrybawn Mountain. Flanked by larch and pine trees, the route offers magnificent views of the whole Glendalough Valley. Red squirrels and birds such as treecreepers are often seen here. In early summer, wood sorrel, bluebells and wood anemones add colour to the woodland floor.


This trail begins with a short but steep climb up by the Poulanass Waterfall and plunge pools. (The name Poulanass is taken from the Irish ‘Poll an Eas’ which means ‘hole of the waterfall’). The trail crosses above the waterfall to drop down through mixed woodlands to the valley floor. Listen out for woodland birds, in particular jays, which can be quite noisy.

Woodland Road

This is a pleasant walk through one of the more secretive areas of Glendalough. It weaves through mixed woodlands into neighboring Glendasan Valley. The trail starts on the lower lake boardwalk but leaves through a gate onto the public road. After a very short stretch on the road, the path turns left following St. Kevin’s Way along the Glendasan River. It then takes you uphill, through the woods, and over the shoulder of Camaderry before descending back to Glendalough.

Spinc and Glenealo Valley

This popular walk leads you through some of the most spectacular scenery in Co. Wicklow. (The name Spinc comes from the Irish ‘An Spinc’ and means ‘pointed hill’). The trail ascends steeply up by the Poulanass Waterfall before following a zig-zag path up the hill to lead you to a viewing point overlooking the Upper Lake. A boardwalk skirts the top of the cliffs (the Spinc) before descending through blanket bog and heath into the picturesque Glenealo Valley, home to a large herd of deer. A rough track then leads you back down into Glendalough Valley.


Although this walk is short in comparison to the other Spinc routes, it still leads you into mountainous terrain where navigational experience is necessary. The walk follows the Poulanass Waterfall before entering the Lugduff Valley. From there, a climb up a zig-zag trail brings you onto the boardwalk. This boardwalk hugs the cliff of the Spinc, before cutting down through forest to lead back towards the Information Office.

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