The Miners Walk in Glendalough (Purple Route) is hard to beat.
This is the more easy-going of the Glendalough walks that takes you alongside the shore of the Upper Lake and on to the Miner’s Village.
Below, you’ll find a map of the Purple Route along with info on what to look out for along the way.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Miners Walk
The Miners Walk in Glendalough is easy enough to follow, with excellent signage and good paths. However, before you hit the road, be sure to check out the basics first and foremost.
Glendalough is located in the very heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, just a stone’s throw away from the village of Laragh. From Dublin city centre, you can expect the drive to take just over an hour or so, or 30 minutes from Wicklow Town.
There are two large car parks at Glendalough, the upper and the lower. For this walk, the Upper car park is the best choice. It costs €4 for cars to park all day. There are plenty of spaces, though it can get busy at weekends and holidays, so it’s best to arrive early to secure a spot! You’ll find fantastic facilities within the car park, including clean toilets, an information centre, and two food trucks.
3. Length + Difficulty
The Miners Walk in Glendalough is a mostly flat, out and back walk that covers 5 km, with a total ascent of just 20 metres. The wide, mostly gravel paths are easy to navigate and there are several benches along the way, making this an easy-going and approachable walk. However, with some rocky sections near the end, it’s not ideal for wheelchairs or buggies. On average, it’ll take about 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete the walk both ways.
About the Glendalough Purple Route
Mining was once an extremely important industry in Glendalough Valley and its surroundings. Starting in the 1790s, lead, silver, and zinc were mined extensively, with more than 2,000 miners employed at its peak.
The last operations ended in 1957 and the once thriving miner’s village now lay in ruins. This superb walk follows in the footsteps of the miners of yesteryear.
Along the way, you’ll spot the cave known as St. Kevin’s Bed, maybe meet with a feral goat or two, and pass through a gorgeous forest of Douglas Fir.
The walk culminates at the miners village, where you’ll see countless crumbling stone houses and work buildings, as well as rusted machinery used in the mines.
Miners Walk map and trail overview
Following the Miners Way in Wicklow is easy enough, it’s basically a straight line along the water’s edge.
With that in mind, we’ll just give you a quick idea of what to expect along the way.
Kicking Things Off
Starting in the Upper car park, head to the Glendalough Visitor Centre to grab a printed copy of the map, if you like (it’s not really needed though).
This details all of the walks in the area, with extra information on each. Now, look for the purple arrows, and signs pointing you towards the Miners Road.
If you’re struggling, it’s a continuation of the road that you took to get to the car park. When you reach it, take a left and start walking towards the lake.
Through the Forest and Along the Lake
Follow the wide paved road, with the lake on your left and a magnificent forest of Douglas Firs on your right. Up ahead, you’ll see the looming peak of the Spinc, covered in vibrant green trees that contrast with the clear blue waters of the lake.
Soon enough, you’ll reach Kevin’s Bed viewpoint and if you look over the lake, you’ll see a small cave hewn into the cliffs.
Eventually, the lake begins to dry up and the surrounding slopes lose their cover of trees, to be replaced by gorse, ferns, stones, and boulders.
As you near the end of the valley, you’ll enjoy a wonderfully remote landscape, with a river crashing down the slopes up ahead.
The Miners Village
As the greenery is replaced by smashed rocks, you know you’re getting closer to the village and soon you’ll start seeing the first ruins.
The mangled, rusted remains of once mighty machinery now lies peaceful, surrounded by the stubborn stone foundations of former buildings.
Follow the rocky path a little further and you’ll reach the end of the valley floor and the rest of the mining village. The shells and skeletons of the former buildings are great to explore, while information boards give a wider understanding of the area.
Once you’ve finished exploring, simply head back the way you came. Or, if you’re up for a more challenging loop, extend your walk by joining the Spinc and Glenealo Valley walk, which continues on from this point and loops back around the other side of the lake.
Things to do after the Glendalough Miners Road Walk
One of the beauties of Glendalough 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 nearby from food to scenic drives.
1. Post-hike food
Return to the Upper car park for a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. You’ll find hot food on offer, as well as ice cream and cakes. Alternatively, head over to Laragh and check out the Wicklow Heather, a superb restaurant with amazing food and a great atmosphere. Many of the hotels near Glendalough also do food.
2. Glendalough Monastic Site
Glendalough was once also a major monastic site, home to seven churches and two saints. You can explore the well-preserved ruins of the holy city, walking among gravestones and stone churches. The round tower is a major highlight, and it’s believed to date back more than 1,000 years.
3. Sally Gap Drive
The Sally Gap Drive is an unofficial but wonderful drive that takes in some of the best scenery in the Wicklow Mountains. Along the way, you can expect jaw-dropping views of Lough Tay, otherwise known as the Guinness Lake, and panoramas of the surrounding mountains.
FAQs about the Glendalough Purple Route
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is the Glendalough Purple Route easy?’ to ‘How long does it take?’.
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 Miners Walk in Glendalough?
This is a short trail that follows purple arrows alongside the Upper Lake. This 5 km trail takes around 1 hour and 10 minutes in total to complete.
Is the Glendalough Purple Route easy?
Yes. This is a relatively flat trail (there are some small inclines in sections) that should be doable for most fitness levels.
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.