I’d argue that the Devil’s Glen walk is one of the best walks in Wicklow.
Located a stone’s throw from Ashford, this secluded Wicklow landscape inspired Seamus Heaney (one of the two tails here is even named after him!).
In the guide below, you’ll find two walks to tackle (one of which includes a waterfall!), the route to follow and how long each takes.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Devil’s Glen walk in Wicklow
Although a visit to the Devil’s Glen walk in Wicklow is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Located near Ashford and around 15km east of Glendalough, the Devil’s Glen has the feel of an enchanted forest and is set in a dramatic gorge with the famous waterfall as its highlight.
2. Story behind the name
Before the nearby Vartry Reservoir was constructed in the mid 1800s, the sound from the Devil’s Glen waterfall was considerably louder than it is now. The thunder of the water crashing echoed throughout the entire gorge and was said to sound like a “Satanic power announcing some great doom”, hence the name.
3. The Seamus Heaney link
In the 1970s, Seamus Heaney’s family rented a gate lodge on the Glanmore Estate, which we now know as the Devil’s Glen. Heaney talked about the “strange loneliness” of the place and you can see how its evocative atmosphere would have inspired some of the legendary Irish poet’s finest work.
4. The walks
There are two Devil’s Glen walks to tackle, depending on what you want to see. The Seamus Heaney Walk is a 4km/2-hour walk while the Devil’s Glen Waterfall Walk is a 5km/2.5-hour ramble.
The Seamus Heaney Walk
It’s worth taking a minute or so to look at map above to get a sense of the two different trails.
On the two occasions that I visited the Devil’s Glen, to try each of the trails, I found it hard to get my bearings.
How long it takes
The first trail is what’s known as the Seamus Heaney Walk. If you look at the map above, the trail is marked with yellow dots.
The Seamus Heaney Walk is a looped trail that’s 4km in length and that takes the guts of 2 hours to complete.
Although it isn’t an overly taxing trail, this is one of the more challenging forest walks in Wicklow thanks to the uphill section of the trail at the beginning.
However, if you have a moderate level of fitness it should be very doable.
Where to start
If you turn off the R763 into the entrance of the Devil’s Glen woods you’ll reach the first of the two car parks. As you can see from the map above, you can start the Seamus Heaney Walk from here.
You can also start it from the second car park, around a 4-minute drive from the first.
Follow the yellow arrows where the walk meanders in an anti-clockwise direction. On the way you’ll pass through conifer forest with examples of beech, Spanish chestnut and ash.
Look out for the striking woodland sculptures near the entrance and the carved Seamus Heaney quotes throughout.
The Devil’s Glen Waterfall Walk
The Devil’s Glen Waterfall Walk is the better trail of the two (in my opinion) as it takes you, as the name suggests, to the waterfall.
I last did this trail in early February and the ground was very slippy and muddy in places, so good walking shoes are needed.
How long it takes
The Devil’s Glen Waterfall Walk is a narrow loop that’s 5km long and should take around 2 hours to complete.
It’s marked on the map above with red dots. The last time I was here I found the beginning of the trail tricky to follow, so make sure to check the map in advance.
The Devil’s Glen Waterfall Walk is suitable for anyone with moderate fitness. There’s a bit of an incline early on along with a steep downhill section but there’s nothing else too troubling.
If you’re doing it after rainfall it can get muddy so wear appropriate boots if that’s the case.
Where to start
The ideal starting point for the Devil’s Glen Waterfall Walk is the second car park. Now, this is a small space with room for around 15 cars, and it fills up fast on the weekends.
Keep in mind that it’s a good 20-minute walk from the first to the second car park.
Follow the red arrows and go past more sculptures before zigzagging down into a narrow section of the Devil’s Glen.
You’ll pass by sequoias and firs alongside the River Vartry while hearing the rumble of the waterfall in the distance.
Admire the roar and majesty of the waterfall as it cascades over the rocks and rapids before turning back home.
Things to do after seeing the Devil’s Glen Waterfall
One of the beauties of the Devil’s Glen in Wicklow is that it’s a short spin away from many of the finest places to visit in Wicklow.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the the Devil’s Glen waterfall (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Walks galore
When you finish up at the Devil’s Glen, you’ve plenty more walks nearby to choose from, such as:
2. Sally Gap
If you fancy a drive with plenty of scenic stops, head towards Lough Tay (30 minutes from the Devil’s Glen in Wicklow) and do the Sally Gap Drive. It takes in Guinness Lake, Glenmacnass Waterfall and some beautiful scenery.
3. Wicklow Town
FAQs about the Devil’s Glen walks
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park to what to see nearby.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
How long do the Devil’s Glen walks take?
There are two Devil’s Glen walks to try: The Seamus Heaney Walk is a 4km/2-hour walk while the Devil’s Glen Waterfall Walk is a 5km/2.5-hour ramble.
Why is it called the Devils Glen?
It was the thunderous sound of the Devil’s Glen waterfall – its “satanic power” – that gave the glen its name.
Where is the Devils Glen in Wicklow?
You’ll find it located near Ashford and around 15km east of Glendalough.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.