And around here, we’re blessed with more than our fair share of beautiful and inviting hideaways.
One of the finest slices of Wicklow heaven on offer, The Devil’s Glen is situated about 10 minutes drive from Ashford town, heading towards Annamoe.
So, you know, it’s just over there. If not closer.
With a Yellow Walk (aka The Seamus Heaney Walk) and a Red Route (aka The Sculpture Trail) to choose from, as well as, of course, plenty of options to go your own way, there is much to enjoy in a stunning woods that boasts a plethora of hidden treasures.
Quite a few are man-made, as you spot strange and sometimes stunning sculptures hidden among the trees – 20 in total, sitting pretty alongside all those Seamus Heaney quotes – but all paths lead to the jewel in the crown. Taking a few steps up to view the Devil’s Glen waterfall, as it cascades on down from its inviting rock pool and on, down through Mount Usher and beyond, it could almost make you break into song.
Or worse, poetry.
There’s even a little proposal spot there, with an inspiring little quote – ‘When we find the ring, I’ll propose‘.
It was back before the construction of the Vartry Reservoir, way back in the 1860s, that the roar of the waterfall was deemed to sound “as a Satanic power announcing some great doom“. Hence the name Devil’s Glen.
The fact that you can cover this walk in little over an hour or let it stretch on for a whole afternoon makes Devil’s Glen the proverbial fun for the whole family.
Even oul’ ones can manage a chunk of this juicy beauty.
It helps, of course, that there are plenty of signs at each junction letting you know how to get back to the car park, whilst walking alongside The Vartry offers up the perfect opportunity to rest for an hour. Or three.
You can park at the gate of The Devil’s Glen, but to get into the heart of it – and closer to that waterfall – it’s best to take the five-minute drive down to the main car park.
As for the history, the nearby Glanmore Castle once included Devil’s Glen wood as part of its domain, back when it was home to John Millington Synge’s family. The 19th century Irish playwright, poet and collector of folklore – who gave us The Playboy of The Western World – never actually lived in the castle though. Today, the wood is in the hands of Coillte (the state-sponsored forestry company based in Newtownmountkennedy), whilst the castle and its immediate surrounds are privately owned.
Not that you need to know any of this background info for Devil’s Glen to turn an ordinary Saturday afternoon into something mildly wild and truly wondrous…
We’re bookending our Saturday afternoon stroll with a shot of the Devil’s Glen waterfall from 1875 and a painting from 1835.
You can find more woods, trails and hidden paths in our Take A Hike section here.