Sunday 19 October 2014

Bray to Greystones

Bray Head and the cliff top walk to Greystones seemed like a good idea after yesterday’s hike in Howth. The cats woke me up at “Oh my God, is that the time!??” O'clock so I was able to head out to Bray in time to see the sunrise. It was pretty but honestly, I’d have been better off throwing the cats out the window and getting back to sleep. Or maybe I should have brought them along and fed them to this dude.

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It was pleasant to be fair to the place, and there are a wide selection of walks. I wandered along the promenade for a while to let the light levels get up to a reasonable level and then headed for the top of the hill, taking the newly way-marked De BuitlĂ©ar Way for a very bracing 4km loop up to the top and back down. It’s only about 180m climb but it’s pretty steep and definitely woke me up. It’s a nice walk but the full loop has some pretty rough and steep paths on the seaward side and there was a lot of mud and water on the paths. The view at the top is epic though and well worth the effort.

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When I got back down I headed out to Greystones along the cliff path. It’s a pretty easy walk for the most part, only a few sections are in any way steep but again there were quite a few muddy patches, and three or four spots where you needed good waterproof boots to avoid ending up with very wet feet. The first couple of km give you a really nice birds eye view of Victorian railway engineering at it’s best as the paths winds along about 50m above the railway line as it snakes along the coastline from Bray to Greystones.

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I think the last couple of km into Greystones are a bit dull but it’s good that the full walk is now a real path, it wasn’t the last time I was here. I have to admit that was probably close to 15 years ago though. Anyway it’s still a nice 12km round trip walk and Greystones is quite pretty itself and does offer a few nice spots to stop and have some food before heading back.

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Overall not a bad way to get in 21km before lunchtime.

Saturday 18 October 2014

The Bog of Frogs

I’ve been meaning to do a decent walk around Howth Head for a while and the weather this morning seemed perfect, despite the overnight yellow alert from Met Eireann. The weather gods chose to keep the rain and wind at bay here on the east coast and it was perfect weather for it, walking in the sunshine in a T-shirt in mid October, can’t complain. There are four fully marked loop walks around the headland. I went for the Bog of Frogs option, because, hey with a name like that it just had to done, right? The other options are in the 5-7km range, and offer a choice between the cliff route and a couple of loops around the hills. They are very well way marked, you just need to check one of the big maps down by the waterfront to get your choice of route and then follow the coloured badges around the paths.

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The Bog of Frogs route is the most intense of the four, approximately 12km for the loop itself. I took a bit of a detour at the start to walk out along the pier so it was about 14.5 km in total for me and took just under three hours. It’s a decent hike in any case and includes about 450m total ascent and descent so it was a definite level up from last week’s outing on Killiney Hill. It’s well worth the effort, and manages to be convincingly wild despite weaving in and around quite a few residential areas ( and the Royal Howth Golf Club’s 11th and 12 holes). The eponymous Bog of Frogs is around the 12km mark on the map shown here. Love that name.

Before I kicked off on the walk around the headland I wandered out onto the pier. It was lovely and dramatic with a nice lively autumn feel to it but I forgot my own advice from last week about the polarizing filter and had to bin about 95% of the shots I took as a result. Oh well, there were still some relatively nice ones.

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I took the clockwise option for the Bog of Frogs loop, not sure if it matters in general but it meant that if the weather had turned nasty I’d just have gotten wet, and not been at risk of being blown off the cliffs. The risk that is pretty low to be honest, the paths are pretty good, but this is a cliff top walk and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone not comfortable with such routes. Once you leave the Kilrock car park ( the first photo is looking back over it) you don’t really notice any houses until you get to the Baily Light House, and even from there the path generally keeps well out of the way of buildings apart from a section from around the 5-7km mark where a lot of the south facing slopes are gardens for some fairly expensive houses.

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I even managed to get some wildlife shots in.

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And down by the waterline in the cove by Worn Hole there was a lot of evidence of collateral damage from the storms earlier in the week – lots of brown crab shells, one or two whole (but well dead) brown crabs, loads of sponges, some mussels and a couple of green crabs. I’ve rarely seen sponges or brown crabs washed up on a beach but there were hundreds at this spot for some reason. 

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And yeah – there was another one of those epic Telegraph Cable signs along the way. Very cool.

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Saturday 11 October 2014

Autumn Sunshine

Autumn decided not to be all cold, wet and windy today which gave me a chance to grab some shots of the sun burning off the early morning mist around Kildare. The old church and graveyard at Oughterard seemed like a good place to go since it’s one of the highest points in this part of the county and I think it was a good bet. I got a couple of shots on the Grand Canal on the way and probably should have spent more time on it but I was happy with these two. 

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The mist in the valley below Oughterard was perfect – flowing along like a slow motion river over the fields and hedges.

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The churchyard itself was OK but I think I’d have needed a tripod, a lot of patience and a willingness to get very wet to make the most of it. I made do with just enjoying the atmosphere and a couple of quick shots.

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The whole exercise woke me up so I decided to head for the coast and go for a walk on Killiney Hill. Definitely well worth the effort but I made a mistake and ended up parking on Vico road, I’d have been better off parking down by the beach in Killiney or in the car park near the Quarry. Still I got in a nice 8km hike, with a 200m climb which came with a reward of panoramic views of Dublin Bay.

Sorrento Terrace and Dalkey Island, from the north end of Killiney beach.

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Sorrento Terrace and Dalkey Island from the top of Killiney Hill.

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Killiney beach to Bray from the top of Killiney Hill.

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The autumn sun. I got sunburned. In October. In Ireland. Don’t know if I should be delighted that the summer continues or irritated that I seem to be destined to get sunburned every time I go outside this year.  I spent a good 10 minutes trying to get that lens flare just right by the way, it should have been a no brainer but I was so hot and sweaty from climbing the hill I couldn’t look through the viewfinder without having both my glasses and the viewfinder fogging up. That was not a technical challenge I expected to have to deal with in October.

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