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Walk of the Month: The Spinc Loop, Wicklow Mountains National Park

Deservedly one of the most popular walks in Wicklow. This is a high level walk along the Spinc ridge, overlooking the spectacular Glendalough Valley, with panoramic views over Glendalough and the surrounding hills, returning past the Glenealo River as it cascades by means of a series of waterfalls into the Upper Lough.

The Glendalough Valley is now part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park but back in the 6th century, hermit monk Saint Kevin first sought solace and contemplation in the idyllic surroundings of Glendalough. His followers would establish a monastery here and it would become one of the most important monastic sites in Europe. The focal point of the monastery was the 33m high round tower, where the monks could hide away, keen to keep themselves and their precious manuscripts safe from of invading Vikings.

Today, it is much more accessible. Only an hour’s drive from Dublin city, Wicklow Mountains National Park extending to more than 170sq km, offers a vast array of routes at all levels of difficulty. But Glendalough is best explored on the Spink and Glenealo Valley Route, a high quality loop walk with excellent waymarking and a well-maintained trail and, apart from the fairly strenuous climb up to the Spinc ridge at the start, the walk is reasonably level, easy going and rewarding.

The Route:

  • Starting from the car park at the Upper Lough in Glendalough, take the path southwards to the base of the Poullanass Waterfall. Cross the bridge and follow the path uphill that runs beside the waterfall.
  • At the top of the waterfall, a number of paths head off in different directions. Take the right-hand path, continuing uphill.
  • After the first bend, there is a stile on the right which is easy identified by the sign warning about the need for appropriate outdoor footwear etc. Cross the stile and head steeply uphill. This is by far the most strenuous part of the whole walk as the path quickly gains height. On reaching the top of the path, a tough climb is rewarded with breathtaking views not just of the Valley but as you climb high the vista over the Wicklow Uplands opens out around you.
  • The Spinc is a ridge extending to the west parallel to the Upper Lough. Follow the clearly visible boardwalk path along this ridge. The path is level and the easy walk along the ridge allows time to enjoy the views.
  • At the west end of the Spinc, stay on the path as it descends in a zig-zag towards the Glenealo River.
  • The path now turns east and descends down beside a series of waterfalls to an old miners village at the west end of the lough. The views down the lough are exceptional on a clear day.
  • After the miners village, the path continues along the north side of the lough back to the car park.

A guaranteed great day out in one of Ireland’s best locations, with spectacular views, especially on a fine day.

Duration: 3.5 hours Approx | View on Google Maps



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