Devil's Glen Walk
A weekend walk - there is nothing nicer as spring turns to summer and the leaves make the final stretch out from their buds. The evenings are long and wandering till sunset feels like a natural thing. Before launching our new sock we went for a wander or rather a test walk. New and exclusive to Makers & Brothers, woven in Donegal and with a playful flecked wool we took the socks for a walk along our favourite hillside track in Wicklow.
The socks were launched in New York last week and became a bestseller and a favourite amongst our visitors. But as with all our stock we like to test before offering to all and as such had the perfect excuse to go wandering in the Devils Glen. Hidden amongst thousands of acres of rolling state forestry close to Ashford in Co. Wicklow, copious walking routes are nestled throughout the beautiful Devil’s Glen Wood. A place of rich historic, artistic and natural heritage, the woods are located on the side of a deep gorge through which the Vartry River flows. Formed during the glacial period, the gorge makes a quick descent for the river, with the waterfall marking the spot where it rushes into the Devils Glen.
The dramatic landscape has long been a source of creative inspiration. This secret place in the woods became a Victorian retreat when James Arthur O’Connor captured the meditative qualities of the Glen. Once part of Glanmore Estate and Castle, the seat of J.M. Synge’s family, one of Ireland’s most influential playwrights and a leading figure of Irish Literary Revival, spent summers here. The infamous laureate Seamus Heaney moved to the gate lodge of Glanmore Castle to inspire his creative process and wrote his ‘Glanmore Sonnets’, influenced by his walks and reflections.
"Two fields back, in the house, small ripples shook silently across our drinking water (as they are shaking now across my heart) and vanished into where they seemed to start."
The river rushes and plunges between boulders on the floor of the deep wooded gorge and loudly howls as it continues its journey through the Glen en route to the sea. The roar was once greater than it is now, before the Vartry Reservoir was built in the 1860s, and its echo through the gorge gave the Glen its popular name. When the river came through the Glen without restraint, it’s crashing was so loud that the locals said the Devil was howling for sinners down there. The dam has reigned in the sheer raw power of the river, but it still fills the valley with a damp spray and a continuous resounding hum.
The location for one of the first orienteering events in Ireland in 1969, and used as a vantage point by Irish insurgents in the 1798 Rebellion. The walk to the waterfall begins at the car park and one can approach the valley floor from many routes. Ascending through the woods the gentle susurrus in the tress slowly gives way to the thunderous rush of the river leading to a breathtaking view of the Vartry River that has been eked out since the retreat of an ice sheet at the end of the last Ice Age. It is an easy walk, about two hours. Pack a picnic and take your time.
Rare Postcard of The Devil's Glen Waterfall, 1908
A recent walk, photography by Makers & Brothers
Glanmore Sonnets taken from Field Work, Seamus Heaney, 1979
Irish Wool Socks, photography by Makers & Brothers
Orienteering Map, 1969