Our first visit to Glendalough in 2008 focused on the Monastic City. The cold and wet March day was much more suitable to learning about St. Kevin in the visitors center and hot tea in the nearby hotel restaurant than explorations beyond the stone churches.
Finally following up that visit in 2015, our day began much the same – wet and chilly – as we again wandered through the monastic city, steering clear of the large groups of tourists, and sheltering near stone walls huddled under our umbrellas during the hardest downpours.
As the late August morning became mid-day and the rain gave way to low grey clouds and light mist, we set off to explore Glendalough, beyond the ruins.
Glendalough Walks for Families
The Glendalough valley has nine marked walking trails, graded from easy to ramble to hillwalk.
Arrows, colored to coincide with the routes, keep you on your trail, many intersecting along the pathways.
We chose a few varied walks and spent nearly 5 hours exploring the valley circled by the Wicklow Mountains.
The Green Road Walk (Green Route)
Circling the lower lake, the Green Road Walk is a simple, flat route that includes a woodland boardwalk. The 3km walk will take about an hour – more if you stop to see animals and take in the natural beauty.
Poulanass (Pink Route)
This route has some pretty steep hills and trails range from wide and graveled to narrow, rutted dirt. The Pink route overlaps the Green route just a bit; I recommend beginning at the path entrance just past the information center, which puts the waterfall near the end of this route. The route is short, just over 1.5km, but with so much to see it can take above an hour to complete.
Poulanass and St. Kevin's Cell (Bronze Route)
We began this walk as we ended the pink route, walking past Reefert Church and on to St. Kevin's Cell. The steepest portion of this trail has rough hewn stairs, which can be slippery. The entire route is only 1km, but adding it to the pink route shortens it a bit.
It is free to visit the Monastic City and enjoying the Glendalough walks, but if you haven't visited before I recommend paying the small fee for the excellent visitors centre (an OPW Heritage site).
You will find two parking spots- one next to the visitors centre and another just down the road a bit. If both are full you'll see cars parked along side the road edge. Be very cautious if you do this as large tour buses do come through and you don't want to be blocking a turn!