Get up, get uppppp!! Remember that new year’s resolution you made to get out in the fresh air more? Stop lazing the day away in bed, get in the car and check out Devil’s Glen outside Ashford, Co. Wicklow. Why is it called Devil’s Glen, does anyone know? I read somewhere that the roar of the Varty before it was dammed up echoed through the valley earning the glen its name. Is that a load of hooey?! Either way, it’s about a 45minute drive from Dublin and this 4-5km woodland stretch is sure to blow away the cobwebs without being so taxing that you need to be carried home! PLUS you aren’t far from scrummy nibbles after your walk! Get moving, lazy bones!
I’m a big fan of this woodland since it is also home to the Heaney Walk (click the link for some great photos by Fergus O’Reilly on his Heaney Walk) and Seamus was one of my favourite poets. Dotted along the trail are benches and signs with quotes from his lyrical poetry. The routes are clearly marked out on a map at the entrance to the carpark and by following the red arrows you’re sure not to wander too far from the path and get yourself lost.
I’m going to say straight away that it started to rain when we went on this walk so we didn’t make it as far as the waterfall this time but…..I ‘borrowed’ this description from the Coillteoutdoors.ie website to fill you in on the bits that I missed!
‘As the trail eventually reaches the valley floor you will eventually come to a sharp bend where the Waterfall Walk doubles back on itself. A short diversion from the loop will bring you to the waterfall, The Devil’s Punchball. The waterfall is one of the main highlights of the walk. The waterfall marks the spot where the Vartry enters the Devil’s Glen en route to the sea. Prior to the construction of the Vartry Reservoir (1860’s) the roar from the waterfall was much greater than it is today. ‘
So, there you have it.
Keep an eye out on this walk as you will be treated to ‘Sculpture in the Woodland’ along the route. Spot a giant wooden chrysalis carving, wooden benches with Heaney quotes, wooden windows beautifully framing the trees along the valley slope, a kind of Blair Witch-esque wooden tunnel structure (maybe that’s just me), and a large wooden ball. If you are dragging little-ish ones along with you see how many they can spy along the walk. Keep them occupied!
A few of the Wicklow walks websites say this stroll takes about 1.5 hours but since it was drizzly the day I went, I can’t verify this for you, soz.
What I can tell you to do if it rains is head to Mount Usher Garden in Ashford village (don’t fret if the parking looks full from the outside, there is another carpark in at the back, follow the road to the left.) I am also told that the Romany Stone restaurant is delish. I’ll check that out next time!
Mount Usher has a Strawbridge furniture shop, an Avoca food store and café, an Oska clothing outlet and a garden centre. Have I covered almost everyone in that sweeping generalization of a list of token cross section shops?!
Either way, hurry into the café in Mount Usher courtyard out of the rain and get ready to undo all the good work you did by walking earlier on. Might I recommend the creamy crab with fennel, apple and beetroot salad? Enormous (but healthy, right!?) Also the veggie option of falafel with baba ganoush and giant couscous salad was sa-vage.
The usual Avoca delicacies are there to tempt you too but I thought it’s January. Hold off taking photos of cakes, before you ruin the diet completely!
Now, you have a bit of exercise done and gotten a scrumptious salad for lunch. The rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish! Enjoy.