Glendalough – The Spinc and Glenealo Valley – “White Route”

This week the Wicklow Walkers took on the heights of Glendalough. The “White Route”, which leads around the Spinc and the Glenealo Valley, is a touch climb to dizzying heights –  but the views make it all worthwhile!

Difficulty: 4/5. Not for the fainthearted! There is a brief steep climb at the start which levels out nicely. The descent back into Glendalough Valley is slow navigation over rough rocky terrain.

Suitability: Given the walk along the cliffs, the walk is not recommended for young children or anyone with a problem with heights. However, the walk is very safe, with a boardwalk that runs along the top of the cliffs. Very suitable for dogs. – ours really enjoyed the walk!

Distance: 9km aprx

Time: At a brisk pace, we completed it in just over 3 hours with no stops.

Information on Walk: The idea for this walk initially came from the book “Walking in Ireland” by Christopher Somerville. There is also more information available from the following websites:

Our Walk:

We began our first walk at the Glendalough Visitors Centre car park one lovely sunny, but cool Sunday morning. Despite our plan to be walking for 9am, it was closer to 10am as we bundled ourselves and our two canine companions out of the car. It seems to be a very popular spot for walkers, with many groups gathering in the area.

Initially, we set out following the Wicklow Way signs which led us up along and to the top of Poullanass Waterfall. We then started to follow the White Arrows. The trail then leaves the main path and continues steeply uphill through the trees. This is the hardest part of the walk with the inclining boardwalk becoming steep steps. There are two things that make the part do-able … 1) The fact you are still pretty fresh and full of energy (hopefully!) and 2) The spectacular views that await you as you emerge from the trees at the top of the cliff.

The view  of the Upper Lake & Glendalough Valley

The view of the Upper Lake & Glendalough Valley

The trail continues upwards along the side of the cliff. Though not as tough as the previous climb, there is an incline you are best to keep your focus on the breath taking views that improve with every step. This part is a series of boardwalks, which can be slippy if wet or frosty – so do take care! There is a viewing board close to the top which is a great spot to stop for a rest and some water. This was where our picture was taken from, and probably the best view on a clear day.

The trail continues on the boardwalks through the descending bog. Do stay on the boardwalk as the land around it can be very soggy, especially in wet weather.  This part of the walk is nice and easy, a gentle decline, and amazingly wild deer wander close to the path seemly unfazed by the walkers. Keep your eyes peeled!

The path eventually brings you into the rocky valley which is home to the Glenealo River. The path crosses the river and then descends into the old miners village which sits at the west end of the upper lake. This section of the walk does need care. There is a lot of loose rocks & stones, both big and small. By the time we got to this section, Glendalough had come alive and we met many people walking around this area.

The final section of the walk circles the upper lake and is usually very busy with tourists and walkers. At the edge of the Upper lake, there are two paths that you can take – we decided to keep left and walk through the Upper Lake car park.

We decided to stop in the Glendalough Hotel for some lunch. It had started to rain by the time we got there, but luckily the outdoor seating did have umbrellas to shelter us from the rain. There was no problem with the dogs being at the outdoor table and it was a lovely way to end the walk.


  • Enjoy the sound of Poullanass Waterfall as you climb the steps to the top.
  • Take some time to appreciate the stunning views of Glendalough and the surrounding areas.
  • Keep an eye out for the wild deer and goat that can be spotted grazing on the steep rocky cliff side.


Top Tips:

  • Do bring water with you – you will be very grateful after the steep climb
  • Ensure you bring warm layers, regardless of the weather. The walk becomes very exposed and windy as you cross the cliffs and bog.
  • Do use the bathroom facilities before you leave the Visitors centre as you will not find another till you get back to Glendalough.
  • Same goes for finding food. You will not find anything until you get back to Glendalough so do bring some snacks to keep you going.
  • Do bring a camera to capture the unbelievable views and if you are lucky, some of the local wildlife.

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