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A Guide To The Short Spinc Walk (Blue Route)

A Guide To The Short Spinc Walk (Blue Route)

So, there’s a long and short Spinc Walk.

In this guide, we’re looking at the shorter, 5.5km trail. If you want to do the longer loop, see this Spinc Walk guide.

The views from Spinc ridge above the Upper Lake at Glendalough are absolutely spectacular. Below, you’ll find a map and trail overview.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Blue Spinc Walk

Glendalough Viewpoint

Photo via Shutterstock

The different walks in Glendalough are generally straightforward, but take 20 seconds to read the below to get up-to-speed:

1. Location 

The short Spinc Walk begins and ends at the Upper Lake car park at Glendalough in Wicklow Mountains National Park. The car park is just outside the village of Laragh, about a 6 minute drive or over an hours drive from Dublin. There is a daily bus service, St Kevins Bus, that will take you from Dublin City Centre to Glendalough.

2. Parking

The walk begins at the Upper Lake car park which costs €4 to park for the day. You could also park at the car park near the visitors centre for €4 as well. Finally, there is also a free car park in Laragh that is open daily from 8:00 till 20:00. From there you can follow the 3km long Green Road to the Upper Lakes car park.

3. Length + difficulty

The Blue Spinc Walk is 5.5km long. It begins with steep ascent, so while this walk might be shorter, it is still considered to be strenuous. The walk climbs 300m and generally takes a little over 2 hours to complete.

About the Spinc

Poulanass Waterfall

Photos via Shutterstock

The Spinc and Glenealo Valley walks are some of the most popular walks in Wicklow. The three walks take you up to the Spinc ridge, which is the rocky ridgeline overlooking the Upper Lake.

From here, the two longer walks continue on into the Glenealo Valley where walkers can explore the ruins of a lead mine which was in operation here until the 1950s.

If you have not done this walk since before 2020, you are in for a treat. The most strenuous section of the three walks, the 600 steps at the beginning, is gone!

This section of the walk has been upgraded to a series of switchbacks thanks to a €149,600 investment from the 2018 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.

An overview of the Glendalough Blue Route

spinc blue route

Map with thanks to Wicklow Mountains National Park

The different Spinc walks all begin at the Upper Lake car park and follow the same route for a portion of the hike.

They are colour coded white, red and blue. The route you are following is the blue route (see map above).

Kicking things off

The walk starts by leading you up a series of steps at Poulanass waterfall. This is a beautiful place to start the hike with lush woodlands and the waterfall nearby.

As you continue on, you will enter the Lugduff Valley. From there, a series of switchbacks will take you up to the Spinc boardwalk.

This is the most strenuous section of the hike but is a marked improvement from the 600 steps that used to make up this section.

The viewpoint

Continue along the switchbacks until you reach the boardwalk along the Spinc ridge. Make sure to stay on the boardwalk in this section.

There is a reason it is there – below the boardwalk is bog. Make sure to stay away from the steep cliffs to your right.

Walk along the boardwalk for around 1km making sure to take in the views of the Upper Lake below you and Glenealo Valley just beyond the lake.

Keep an eye out for the turnoff

Around the 1km mark make sure to be on the lookout for the turn off point for the blue route. The route is well marked and it’s hard to miss (it’ll be on your left – see map above).

At this point, the Blue route diverges from the two other Spinc walks and heads into the forest, where it will loop back on itself.

Follow the path through the forest until you meet back with the trail near the switchbacks. From here, you continue on until you get back to the starting point.  

Things to do after the Spinc Blue Route

There’s plenty of things to do in Glendalough and the surrounds when you finish up.

Below, you’ll find info on food, scenic drives and some of the best things to do in Wicklow nearby.

1. Post-hike food

wicklow heather breakfast

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

There are usually food trucks around the place that will fill the void after your hike, but we recommend you get back into the car and head to Wicklow Heather Restaurant. The restaurant is just a 7 minute drive into Laragh. They serve delicious Irish fare in a setting that seems right out of Harry Potter.

2. Glendalough Monastic City

round tower in Glendalough

Photo via Shutterstock

Glendalough Monastic City is an early Christian settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin. Most of the remaining structures were built during the 10th to 12th centuries. Glendalough Round Tower is one of the highlights. Standing at 30.48m, it is one of the tallest round towers in existence.

3. Sally Gap Drive

Sally Gap Drive

Photos via Shutterstock

The Sally Gap Drive is a scenic drive through the Wicklow Mountains. The Gap is just a short drive away from Glendalough and takes you by incredible views of the mountains, Lough Tay, and Glenmacnass Waterfall. Give yourself at least 2 hours to stop at all the viewpoints along the route.

FAQs about the Blue Route in Glendalough

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is it any good?’ to ‘Where do you park?’.

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.

Is the short Spinc Walk worth doing?

Yes. If you only have a few hours and you want to see the view from the viewpoint, it’s well worth dedicating a few hours to.

Is the Glendalough Blue Route hard?

Yes. The initial part of the walk that takes you up past the waterfall is very steep. However, it levels out after a while.

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