St Kevins Way - Pilgrim Path
St Kevin's Way follows in the footsteps of St Kevin through the hills of Wicklow to the haunting and mysterious valley of Glendalough where he spent the rest of his life in solitary prayer and contemplation. After Kevin's death in AD 618, what had been a humble hermit's retreat developed into an impressive monastic city which was to continue as a centre of piety and learning for many years to come. Medieval pilgrims came from far and wide to visit Kevin's tomb, and the alternative starting points to the walk reflect the different directions from which they are likely to have travelled. The main route starts in Hollywood, while the alternative route comes from Valleymount. The paths meet and join at Ballinagee Bridge. The walker then climbs towards the spectacular Wicklow Gap, a classic example of a €˜wind gap' and the highest point on the route. The flagstones of the old pilgrimage road are still visible in sections. The route then follows the descent of the Glendasan River into the Valley of Glendalough. Before proceeding to the monastic buildings, a visit to the fine interpretative centre beside Glendalough carpark will give an overview of the history of the area. Little remains of the early monastery that grew up around St Kevin's tomb, and most of the monastic buildings date from the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the heyday of the European pilgrimage. The cluster includes one of the country's best preserved examples of a round tower. The valley beyond the monastic settlement has much to offer, including a view of the inaccessible €˜St Kevin's Bed' from which he reputedly hurled a seductive maiden into the lake below in a determined effort to preserve his chastity.
Rural Recreation Officer
County Wicklow Partnership
Avoca River House
3rd Floor Bridgewater Centre North Quay
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org
Car Parking: Space on street in Hollywood/ Valleymount. Car Park at Glendalough
Start is shown above as Hollywood or Valleymount but this trail can be started from Glendalough either. ***Do not enter farmland if you have dogs with you, even on a leash, unless with the permission of the landowner***This trail is waymarked with yellow walking pilgrim and arrow on black posts N.B. During the heavy rainstorm in October 2011 the bridge over the Gleenreemore Brook on St. Kevin's Way was washed away. This river may be impassable at this point when the river is high. This note will be updated when the bridge has been repaired.
Medieval Irish Pilgrim Paths No. 2 - St Kevin's Way - Hollywood to Glendalough, Co Wicklow - available from the Heritage Council - see contact details below.
No public transport available to Hollywood or Valleymount.
No direct public bus service to Glendalough but there is a private bus company, St. Kevin's Bus, that run a daily service Dublin/Glendalough and Glendalough/Dublin. Times available at www.glendaloughbus.comwww.glendaloughbus.com.
Antoinette from Mayo
Margaret from Fermanagh
Susan from United States
Aoife from Wicklow
The route from Valleymount follows the road to Glenbride and while narrow, it is less traveled than the Hollywood route and quite safe. All of the off road sections follow paths but can be boggy in places. Bring your gaiters! I recommend sheltering at St. Kevin's Pool at around the half way point for your break. A beautiful walk that I highly recommend for a fine day.
Eoin from Waterford
Secondly, upon reaching the Gap, the obvious way to go is to continue along St Kevin's Road towards the power cables, whereas the trail actually moves to run along the road for several hundred metres.
Thirdly, the sign to leave the road and rejoin a parallel trail is marked only by a painted yellow arrow on a small rock by the side of the road - there is no waymarker to indicate that the trail has left the main road at this spot.
Dave from Galway
I decided to choose the Valleymount starting point instead of Hollywood as I was heeding the advice by Aoife who recommended Valleymount due to the quieter road section.
A side note, there's are many discrepancies on the trail distance. Sport Ireland indicates 30km, Visit Wicklow.ie states 26km but printed on the map board is 19km from Valleymount and 27km from Hollywood. Google maps estimated 22km from Valleymount and 26km from Hollywood and thus I gleaned that there's a 4km delta between the 2 routes.
The walk from Valleymount started off on a minor road which gently rose to a height and flanked Silsean mountain. There are nice views behind of Poulaphoca Reservoir. I suprised myself in how quickly I made it to the forestry plantation at Garryknock. Coming to the end of the first map, there was one section which the waymarker indicated leaving the road and going across felled trees. This route looked too rough and overgrown so I stayed on the road until the T-junction and turned left to reach Ballinagee Bridge.
From Ballinagee Bridge, the route passes through forest trails and forest road and it was a welcome change from the road. The route then crosses farmland and then back onto forest road before crossing a road once more to enter another forest. I had lunch beside a footbridge that straddled a river. After lunch I discovered St. Kevin's Pool. I filled my water bottle up from the flowing river water but when I saw the brown colour, I dumped it back in. The trail the proceeding uphill and eventually bog bridge carried me over boggy land until I arrived onto a gravel road with a wooden signpost indicating 9km to Glendalough.From here the route hugs the road to the Windy Gap from the safety of farmland.
Eventually the route left the farmland and I was walking on the hard shoulder of the road to the Windy Gap. The views start to impress now. Up until now the trail was a 3 out of 5 but now it started to enter the 3.5-4 out of 5 territory. I rested, boiled water and had a cup of tea on a large boulder which overlooked the rest of the way down to Glendalough.
Resuming the trail I was surprised that the route didn't skirt the Lake Nahanagan, instead the waymarker pointed across the road and directed me across bogland which flanked a forest.
I emerged from this section to rejoin the route as highlighted by the map. Shortly afterwards I was expecting to have to walk the road but the way has been nicely redirected to run parallel to the road which lead me to the lead mine ruins. The disused lead mines are the highlight of the trail for me. You get an amazing vantage point of Glendalough and the monastic city off just 3km in the distance. At times it felt like walking around ruins of Ancient Greece.
The trail finishes by following the Glendasan river as it flows into Glendalough ending near the monastic city. The 22km walk took me roughly 6hrs including at least 1hr of breaks.