A forest for all tastes in The Devil’s Glen, Co Wicklow

The Devil’s Glen is a route for all walkers

The Devil’s Glen, Co Wicklow

Start: Route one – main forest entrance on R763 Ashford to Annamoe Road. Route two – main car park
Finish: Main car park
Time: variable
Distance: Route one 4 km/route two 5 km
Map: Wicklow east 1:30,000 east west mapping but easier to just follow the yellow and/or red trails

The words “Sunday walk” probably bring mixed reactions in any household. There are bound to be some who can’t wait to get out into the fresh air, others whose only desire is to bury themselves in the Sunday papers, perhaps a grandparent who would like a bit of exercise but not too much, a bored teenager plugged into earphones and maybe a couple of children.

Now this is where The Devil’s Glen in Wicklow comes into its own, for in this forest you have culture and nature combined. Here’s how it might work. You arrive at the first car park where poetry lovers, specifically Heaney aficionados can disembark. They will do the Yellow Walk – the Seamus Heaney Walk. They follow a path along which there are a series of wooden benches set out at intervals, and into which are inscribed stanzas from the famous poet’s works.

Let’s say there is a grandparent who needs a bit of a rest every so often and a teenager “doing” Heaney, they could set off together. There is a gentle hill at the start but it is not too steep. Within a few metres, they will need to stop anyway to contemplate a fenced-in space which has a title and looks as if there should be a piece of sculpture in it – there isn’t.

On they go until they meet another track and a welcoming bench. Continuing up the track to the left they will soon see a sign saying Sitka Sphere Lee Jae-Hyo. The problem is that they will be looking at some trees.


A bit of detective work will lead them to the conclusion that the trees have grown up relatively recently and that there is something behind them, not in this case more poetry but one of the sculptures hidden in the forest.

This is a giant sphere made from randomly assembled spruce logs and one of the more impressive works of art in the forest.

With that bit of excitement over, they keep going along the track, meeting the benches and hopefully enjoying the challenge of recognising the poems from which the stanzas are extracted. Eventually, the track descends gently on to the main forest road and they will turn left and keep walking until they find their vehicle at the main car park.

Meanwhile back in the car, the others will have driven right into the forest, parked at the official site and set off on their individual missions.

The disgruntled paper reader might decide, that robbed of news, the next best thing could be looking at sculpture and follow the Red Route – the Sculpture Trail. Children could be given the task of charging on ahead to see if they can find these hidden treasures, being warned that they must look carefully, as some of them are hanging from the trees high up in the forest.

Perhaps there is an exercise junkie in the party. No problem. He or she can set off, running along the same path up hill and down dale all the way to the magnificent waterfall at the very end of the valley.

Racing back along the lower path, with the rushing Vartry river for company, will surely expunge all weekday blues and, having done five kilometres, they could say mission complete.