during the times of Covid-19
We all knew it was coming but County Dublin has levelled up to Level 3 and our lives have got a bit smaller for the next three weeks. Just because we can't just nip into the Wicklow Mountains for our fix of scenery or over to the wesht for a weekend, it doesn't mean we don't have our fair share of beauty right here on the doorstep. It's so important to keep getting out and about for to brush of the cobwebs, nurture our mental health and to keep the kids happy.
Here are our picks for County Dublin dandering this autumn:
Dublin is drowning in a sea of seaside strolls - Clontarf, Malahide, Skerries, Howth, Dun Laoghaire, Portmarnock, Rush, Blackrock and Shankill all offer a convenient mix of natural coastal delights and charming towns full of takeaway food and drink options and pavement cafes.. These easy walks are ideal for a lazy day whilst still feeling like getting out and doing something.
Skerries affords the opportunity to wander around the Red Island peninsula where it doesn't take much effort to spot a number of cafes and restaurants doing takeouts - check out the famously indulgent Storm in a Teacup ice cream booth, the long sandy beach and seals hanging out in the pretty harbour. Skerries is also a very popular place to go for a proper sea swim - and you won't be alone.
Clontarf is the most accessible scenic seaside spot to most central Dubliners. Bike or walk along the long promenade - with the iconic Poolbeg Powerstation looming across the water - to Bull Island and the striking Dollymount Strand.
The affluent delights of Dublin's own Monte Carlo (said mostly with tongue in cheek) Malahide is probably more of a destination to get a nice bite to eat than a spectacular walk. There's always Malahide Castle for a spot of walking in pretty parkland to scratch an outdoor itch.
Portmarnock's beautifully-named Velvet Strand is a long beach perfect for taking the dog and toddlers and letting off some lockdown steam.
Rambling in Nature
In between Skerries and Rush in North County Dublin is the cliff top trail at Loughshinny. which is fairly untapped outside of the local area Beyond the infamously dirty water and grubby beach is a lovely cliff-top walk. Heading out of the small car park, the path passes a horse field, skirts very close to a few dizzying drops and around a headland punctuated by the 19th century Martello Tower and interesting geological formations. This can either be a nice short Sunday stroll or extended by walking down the coastal path to the town of Rush. Great for dog walkers and those interested in geology.. Apart from the car park there are no facilities here at all.
Howth Head Peninsula
The rock and roll version of Loughshinny, the Howth Head Peninsula is a popular, highly polished and very scenic walk around a headland just above the town of Howth. Handily signposted from the car parks in Howth town centre, this walk heads quite steeply up into the hills and a number of paths loop around the peninsula. Fantastic views are to be had of Howth Lighthouse, Island's Eye and generally out into the sea. With the proximity to Howth town centre there's a great choice of places to get a takeaway treat of coffee or seafood at the end of the approximately 2 hour walk.
Dublin Mountains Way
The Dublin Mountains Way is a marked 42 kilometre path stretching from Tallaght in the west to Shankill in the east. It's hard to imagine that secluded countryside can be found so close to the southern end of Dublin CIty but there is much peace to be found here. As the whole of 42 kilometre walk is probably not going to be possible during these times, a nice section of the route can be found at Bohernabreena Reservoir. A walk from the similarly-named car park along the River Dodder passes seemingly every type of horse in Ireland before traversing two reservoirs and fading into country lanes. Some of the prettiest views can be found by ignoring the looped reservoir walk and instead carrying further on slightly along the Dublin Mountains Way towards the hamlet of Glasnole. Just the car park here with no other facilities.
Take your pick from Ardgillan Castle Demense (Skerries/Balbriggan), Malahide Castle, Newbridge House (Donabate), Farmleigh House (Castleknock)
There are a number of stately homes around the Dublin area offering parkland trails to get lost in. A mixture of meadows, woodland and walled gardens give these locations a nice variation within a short walking distance and there's always facilities like children playgrounds, cafes and toilets to make them the most simple option for families..
Skerries and Adrgillan Castle is a handy double-header which will make the trek to nosebleedingly North County Dublin completely worthwhile. Sprawling over a pretty precipitous tract of land (probably the most strenuous for walks on the parklands list).fantastic views of the Skerries islands and the Mourne Mountains way to the north are a real treat. Ardgillan is famous for it's gardens - especially the rose garden - and they're still looking good now. As an added bonus, a secluded beach can be accessed over the Lady's Stairs at the bottom of the property.
Top tip: Ardgillan can get very busy on weekends. Park in one of the coastal car parks on the Balbriggan Road and enter via the Lady's Stairs to avoid the crowds at the top end.
City Centre Saunters
You don't have to go to the far ends of the county to get out in the fresh air and obviously not everyone has a car. Handily, there are a number of great walks in the city centre too.
The Royal Canal
Walk the Royal Canal Way from Drumcondra to Cabra via Phibsborough. This atmospheric northside walk combines greenery and gritty urban landscapes which provides an oasis from the bustling city. There are views of Glasnevin Cemetery's O'Connell Tower, the Poolbeg chimneys and Croke Park during the trail. You can then enjoy a mid-walk takeaway in Phibsborough, the brunch capital of the northside.
There's this place in Dublin called Phoenix Park, don't you know? Apparently it's quite big. The Park has over twenty-five kilometres of roads and twenty-seven kilometres of surfaced footpaths plus the off-road bits to get away from the crowds. Pre-booking bikes is still available to help you hit up more of the park and even tack on Farmleigh House.
Before you go
With the choices of weekend destination seriously curtailed for Dubliners there is already a noticeable increase in crowds and finding that elusive car parking space will be an unwanted weekend stress. Also with a mix of locals and gallivanters, the towns can get really busy at weekends so making social distancing on the street quite difficult. Typically, it's best to hit these places early or later in the afternoon (the dark early evenings are not yet upon us) or take a day off work and visit on a calmer weekday.
Finally, the Indian summer is unfortunately due to end and temperatures will drop and some rain will roll in. Time to get those winter woollies out but definitely don't let this stop you from getting out.