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Is The Glen Beach Walk One Of Wicklow’s Finest Rambles? We Think So!

Is The Glen Beach Walk One Of Wicklow’s Finest Rambles? We Think So!

If you do the Glen Beach Cliff Walk in Wicklow DON’T UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GO NEAR THE SEALS.

This is one of the finest walks in Wicklow but some people are beyond dense and, despite constant warnings, try to get close to the seals.

Do. Not. Approach. The. Seals. Admire them for afar along with the many beaches on this Wicklow Cliff Walk!

This is a stroll that rivals the arguably much more famous Howth Cliff Walk in Dublin. Find handy info below!

Some quick need-to-knows about the Glen Beach Cliff Walk

Although the Glen Beach Cliff Walk is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

The Glen Beach Cliff Walk car park is just under 2 km south of Wicklow Town centre and a short distance past the golf club. From Dublin City, it’ll normally take about an hour to drive to the trailhead, making it a great choice for a day trip.

2. Parking

You’ll find a decent car park at the trailhead with space for at least 60 vehicles (here on Google Maps). Otherwise, the car park is free, and as far as we can tell, it’s open 24/7. There are also a few picnic tables, plenty of bins, and glorious coastal views.

3. Length + Difficulty

The Glen Beach Cliff Walk stretches for about 4 km in total and with a few climbs along the way, totalling around 110 metres of ascent, it’s rated as moderate. Having said that, it’s fairly easy-going for much of the way, and anyone in reasonable fitness shouldn’t have any problems with completing it in about 1.5 hours. 

4. It’s not a loop

The Glen Beach Cliff Walk tends to be described as a loop, and while there is a small loop at the far end, much of the walk is actually linear and you’ll retrace much of the way as you go back to the car park. See map below.

5. Warning, warning… warning

For those of you that missed the warning above, or for those idiots among us that like to ignore warnings just to get a ‘pic for the gram’ TAKE NOTE OF THIS WARNING: Do not go near the seals. If you approach the pups, in particular, they can end up being abandoned by their mothers. The result? They’ll starve. SO KEEP WELL CLEAR!!!!!

About the Glen Beach Cliff Walk

Glen Beach Wicklow cliff walk

Photos courtesy Celtic Routes via Fáilte Ireland

This Wicklow Cliff Walk is still something of a hidden gem, with most walkers favouring the more well-known Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk (even if the Greystones side is still closed).

But for us, this one far outshines its more famous counterpart in terms of scenery. One of the biggest lures is the pod of seals that call the seas and coves along the trail home.

Wonderful wildlife

As you make your way along the Glen Beach Cliff Walk, check the sea and there’s a good chance you’ll see the bobbing heads of seals staring back at you.

If you’re really lucky, you might see them basking in the sunshine, sprawled on the rocks and stones. Every now and then, dolphins and porpoises can also be seen further out to sea.

The area is also fantastic for birds, with everything from peregrine falcons and razor bills to oystercatchers and black guillemots cruising the skies. 

Glorious scenery

On a fine day, the sea is a brilliant sparkling blue while the countryside around you bursts with vibrant green, dotted with yellow gorse and colourful wildflowers.

As you ramble along the trail, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic natural wonders along the entire length. 

The cliffs boast pockets of craggy coves, including Glen Beach and Limekiln Bay, while headlands afford incredible views of sea stacks and arches.

A culturally rich area

You’ll also come across a wealth of culturally important sites as you make your way along the Glen Beach Cliff Walk.

The remains of a lime kiln give the bay its name, while a recent archaeological dig unearthed prehistoric flints.

The ruins of an ancient church can also be explored, complete with a holy well that, according to local folklore, fishermen would drink from to bring them luck at sea.

Finally, as you near the far end of the walk, the Old Wicklow Head Lighthouse looms into view, a stunning tower that dates back to 1781.

An overview of the Glen Beach Cliff Walk trail

Glen Beach Cliff Walk map

Map via Sport Ireland (Click to enlarge)

At the car park we linked to above, you’ll find a map board that describes the various walks and paths along the cliff tops.

From here, you’ll be following the green arrows on a white background. The walk is well signed, and it’d be difficult to get lost, so we’ll just give a brief overview of what to expect along the way.

Kicking Things Off

From the car park, follow the arrows as they guide you down several flights of stairs and footpaths that wind around the golf course.

Soon enough, you’ll arrive at Glen Beach, a small, rocky cove where you could easily spend a few hours of quiet contemplation on a peaceful day.

Onto the cliffs

Once you’ve enjoyed the beach, you’ll start climbing back up and onto the cliffs. There are a few climbs as you go but nothing overly strenuous.

The trail is narrow at times and does get close to the exposed cliff edge, so care should be taken. With rocks and occasional mud, it can be tough-going in wet conditions.

But the surrounding beauty is well worth the effort. The Glen Beach Cliff Walk is lined by ferns and wildflowers, with mighty sea views.

From here on, just follow the cliffs south, keeping your eyes peeled for seals and dolphins.

Craggy coves and seals

Along the way, you’ll see a number of coves. More often than not, you can visit these, but during the months that the seals use them, typically August to April, the entrances will be blocked. 

These warnings must be adhered to. Approaching the pups can lead to them being abandoned by their mothers and they’ll soon starve.

As such, dogs must always be kept on a lead! The good news is, if the seals are in town, there are plenty of higher vantage points from where you can watch them safely.

Bride’s Head offers a fantastic look over Lime Kiln Bay, where the seals are often most active.

Looping back

As the lighthouse looms up in the distance, you’ll know you’re almost at the end of the walk. Follow the signs as it loops around in a large U-turn.

But there are still plenty of things to see along the way. This area is filled with historic sites, such as the remains of the old lime kiln, the ruins of an ancient church, and the holy well we mentioned before.

After that, you’ll rejoin the clifftop section of the Glen Beach Cliff Walk and head back the way you came.

Alternatively, another path leads back to the main road and from there you can easily reach the car park. This is a slightly longer loop, at around 5.5 km in total.

Things To Do After the Glen Beach Cliff Walk

One of the beauties of the Glen Beach Cliff Walk is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Wicklow.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the Wicklow Cliff Walk!

1. Wicklow Gaol (15-minute walk)

Wicklow Gaol

Photos by Brian Morrison via Ireland’s Content Pool

Head into the heart of Wicklow town to visit one of Ireland’s most haunted attractions – Wicklow Gaol. This historic prison was known for harsh conditions, and it’s said that the tortured souls of previous inmates still roam the corridors to this day.

2. Black Castle (15-minute walk)

Wicklow Town's Black Castle

Photos courtesy Celtic Routes via Fáilte Ireland

Black Castle dates back to the 11th century and stands proudly facing out to sea on the outskirts of Wicklow town. The castle now lies in ruins that have been remarkably well-preserved over the centuries. The mighty stone wall and crumbling towers still remain and a nice walk takes you right to them from Wicklow’s main street.

3. Silver Strand (5-minute drive)

silver strand in wicklow

Photo via @harryfarrellsons on Instagram

Silverstrand Beach is one of Wicklow’s top, surprisingly unknown, attractions. A gorgeous, soft sandy beach with sheltered blue waters, bordered by craggy cliffs and natural caves, it’s got something for every type of beach dweller.

FAQs about the Wicklow Cliff Walk

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is it a loop?’ to ‘Where does it start?’.

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 is the Glen Beach Cliff Walk?

The Glen Beach Cliff Walk stretches for about 4 km in total and with a few climbs along the way, totalling around 110 metres of ascent, it’s rated as moderate. Allow 1.5 hours to complete it.

Where do you park for the Wicklow Cliff Walk?

There’s a free car park right at the start of the trail. Now, keep in mind that this can fill up fast on those often rare fine days.

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