from Sea to shining Sea, a picture walk, on Howth head.


On of the best walks near Dublin is the circumnavigation of the Howth peninsula.  I love to do the entire 360 circuit, and prefer it anti-clockwise, if you like, as you begin on the south-facing side and so catch more sun.

Just leave the car at and start walking somehwere between the modern church near Sutton cross and Sutton dinghy club and get going.  Sutton Cross incidentally must be one of the few crossroads in Europe where you can go straight forward and be on the sea, turn both left or right and both are by the sea, or even head back where you came, and still be on the sea.  All four directions, sea.  This seemed logically impossible to me for a very long time,  my brain refused to accept it.  But its true.  Anyway,  I digress.

There are a lot of really nice houses to enjoy.   Look at this lovely art deco classic below.


isn’t that just beautiful?   I dream of living in a house like this!



There are a surprising amount of palm trees and cordilines all around Dublin, especially on costal Dublin Bay, where, presumably the mild maritime air protects them from frost.   One Irish writer (Hugo Hamilton) even wrote a book called “Dublin, where the Palm Trees grow”.   We like to delude ourselves that we live in California, or the south of France.   You’d be surprised just how often this works.  According to a recent article I read, despite all the recent economic chaos and incompetence, the gloom, stagnation and hardship, Irish people are still indexed as among the happiest in the world.     I credit the palm trees.      And being able to look at houses like these…


and this nice one below.

As you see below, it is simply a boat house that’s been converted into living space.  It’s very simple;  no fuss or dreaded bling.   With its little stand or beach below, and its car parked outside, I find this ineffably cool.


If I did have to offer just one suggestion, I think they should plant a palm tree.   Just a thought.   Anyway, that one is near the dinghy club.   Here are some other very nice, more traditional houses nearby,as we continue walking east…


Here below, are 3 houses I’ve never quite ever made up my mind about.  But I present them nonetheless, for your inspection…


Or this one…



In the third house, the one just above,  you can see the little Indian-style flourishes, especially on the verandah, (a word of Hindu language origin incidentally).   I have a pet theory on this house, that it was built by a retired Irish major or general, a stout old soldier from the Indian army, to see out his days, by the sea, siting out on his verandah, dozing in the sun with a blanket on his knees, dreaming of old polo matches, and the durbars and the regimental dances, the night the Viceroys’s daughter waltzed with him.  ah…


Here above is one of a terrace of nice little cottages.  They were built for tram-workers, or was it retired lighthouse men?  I can’t recall just now, but one of those anyway.

There is a nice surprise at the end of this same terrace of charming but modest dwellings, this (below) is the gable end of the terrace, as the land and lawn slopes downhill, it increases the sense of height.   I love that steep flight of steps at the side of the house too, and the deep yellow door, on the outbuilding beside.    In fact, I love pretty much everything about this house.


Now the road ends, you go through a metal gate and the dirt track begins, winding a trail just along the sea.      Soon you see this great Martello tower…


Here it is again from the far side.


and one more time, looking back behind us, as we walked further east towards the lighthouse…


There are different routes around  many people like to cut up towards the summit ofHowth head.  But I always like to stick to the track nearest the sea.   There is still a fair bit of up and down.  Here, below, are some great steps, cut into the pinkish-dun Cambrian stone of Howth head.   (If you can make them out in the shadow.  Excuse the lousy exposure.)


Here are 2 pictures below from the several coves and pebble beaches along the route.  I’ve swum off these coves plenty of times in the past.  Sure I will again in future.  Summer is slowly coming.



Back up on the track.   Look at the way this wall winds off, away, far into the very far distance, into infinity.  It all has a slight Yellow brick road, or even Great Wall of China feel to it.   Do I exaggerate?  Well, probably.  But you know what i mean.


At one point in the wall,  is this house below.  It is one of the more isolated on the route.  It reminds me, just a slight bit,  of a cottage near Schull away in distant west Cork, that my mum used to rent off friends, and formany summers where she took me and my sister as kids.   Although in fairness to my mum, we could always walk to the local village.  it just took an hour.


A lot of the wall by the way is made of local stone, mixed or sometimes rendered I guess with this stuff, made as you see from beach material, sand, pebble and shells.


Then the landscape and the vegetation changes again, as it does during this walk.  Things become less rugged, more cultivated.   A hint, of hidden gardens starts to reappear. Image

The wall is replaced with this fancy fence.  And we get our first distant glimpse of the famous Bailey lighthouse.


The cliffs fall away much more steeply now.  Looking down you can see gulls and cormorants perched on the rocks far below.  You often see plenty of seals as well and, more occasionally, a pod of dolphins.   My ultimate dreams, anywhere around the Irish coast, is to see one of those amazing Sunfish.   Either that, or a basking shark.


Since the last time i did this walk, maybe eight months to a year back, somebody has treated the path in this area to a nice dusting of rather posh, fine gravel.   It used to be a mud bath on rainy days, and this will probably improve the drainage.  It bounces the light nicely too.


There, alas,  we shall have to leave it.    The walk was completed but, rather annoyingly, the battery on my camera died near this spot !  (sniff)

The walks ends of course at the lovely harbour and historic fishing town of Howth.  But that’ll have to be for another day.   I’ll try and post on that wonderful spot some time soon.

until then, many thanks for reading.


29 thoughts on “from Sea to shining Sea, a picture walk, on Howth head.

  1. I need to be right there. Right now! OMG gorgeous. You don’t think of views like this (or let me say *I* don’t think of views like this) when you think of Dublin. I must have the first house. 🙂 Great post, thank you!!

    1. Very true, a few tiny incremental changes, some steps cut there, some gravel scattered there, a new window somewhere else. But you’re dead right, it has barely changed at all. Deeply reassuring. I did note with concern however a planning application note. It’s a very nice, early modernist house, near the dingy club. The notice was for permission to demolish it! 😦
      I plan to look into it, then to try to lodge an objection.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful walk Arran. I feel like I was there and it’s just beautiful. You are lucky to live there! 🙂

    1. what a charming and generous response. Thank you Susan. Hope all is well with you and also with your superb blog. Looking forward to visiting soon. I do feel lucky to live in Dublin and (I’m extremely fortunately) in some of the nicer bits too. It does not all look like this, alas. And of course this was a particularly beautiful clear bright day. With a sky like that, everything looks wonderful and it all just lifts the heart. Believe me, Dublin has plenty of very serious problems, deep social problems and every other type of problem, including not looking after our natural or our built heritage. Not helped by an abundance of philistines, including some nasty builders and some deeply stupid or even corrupt planners and politicians. But, they haven’t wreaked it all yet. and for all its faults, its still a great city. I love it. Warm regards- A.

  3. Lovely! Lovely lovely lovely. I want to visit Dublin. A must see. Right now. (I wish!) But I agree. The boathouse needs a palm tree. And I LOVE the house with the red door. My absolute favorite! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Jessica, cool, thanks. and yes, I totally agree- the red door house is fantastic and perfect. It’s of a very traditional, specifically Irish, style of country houses. My only problem is that the art deco house is Also a perfect example of its type. And i just can’t decide which one I want. This is almost a perennial problem for me, leafing through the property sections of very expensive houses. Say if I want a 17th century French chateau & vineyard, and there are two for sale, I often can not decide exactly which i want. Ditto with Tuscan farmhouses, or Italian palazzo (I think that should be palazzi in fact plural) in Rome, Florence and (especially) in Venice. Spanish castle, Manhattan townhouses and so on. All I can say is, it’s a good thing i can not currently afford any of them. The agony of choice would be unbearable.

      1. Lol. I haven’t gotten to browsing houses for purchase yet so really hadn’t thought of your dilemma, but you make a good point! Truly difficult indeed! I am quite picky, too. Haha. Thanks for a laugh and a great post! 🙂

  4. It’s such a shame we didn’t have time to go there last year when we stayed in Dublin – a reason good enough to come back, I’d think! It so beautiful. I love Ireland.
    All the best

    1. Thank you so much Mellie. I’m absolutely flattered & delighted if any of my posts cause you to ever come to Ireland. There is a lot wrong here of course, like any country, but lots of beautiful & wonderful things too, & we are still very proud of it. Thank you very much for your visits and your kind words. -Arran.

  5. Great shots Arran. I’m afraid my puffing runs from Howth village clockwise over to Sutton and back to the city didn’t leave time for contemplating the scenery and architecture 🙂

    1. Hi Roy, delighted u enjoyed thanks. But wow, I am very,(very) impressed you do all that run. Really? and back ? to the city. That’s some distance. (in fact how far is it, would you say?) Anyway, you are clearly very fit. and I am just suitably impressed. :> Fair play to you man. A cycle out there and back is a decent return for me. Sometimes I go the other way too, cycle out to S’cove & the 40 ft for a swim. But run either route I never could. Anyway, roll on the summer I say. Been a bit slack over the winter, was finishing a book and… But doing that walk gave me a taste back for good walks and all the rest of healthy summer living. Thanks for commenting. A.

  6. I lived in Dublin during 2008 & 2009. DART to Howth, slog up to the Summit and cruise back through Sutton/Clontarf. About 12 I think? It’s no distance for a proper runner (which I’m not). Fair play to you for swimming at the Forty Foot – I was content to just have a look at it one time 🙂 Keep up the great work on this blog Arran, look forward to each edition.

  7. Hi Arran, enjoyed rambling around Howth with you. As you know, I’ve been doing something similar over the other side of the Bay! Love the views — especially when you’re lucky with the weather.I know what you mean about that photo and the Great Wall of China. Something about the march of it across the frame . ..

    1. many thanks Dermot, and in fact i agree about the text/picture balance. I have a tendency to over-write at times, or more precisely try to cover too much ground. This despite the fact even I myself shy away from (other people’s) longer posts. I am trying to improve in this department! Many thanks for visit and your positive & perceptive comments. -A.

  8. Reblogged this on The Wordkern Archive and commented:
    Reblogging this post by Arran Q Henderson because this is the post that inspired me to do a blog of my own—I was following Arran’s blog by way of email updates—and also because I was inspired by this post to walk this walk, which I did yesterday (Wed., 24 July 2013), something I really recommend, about 2 hours worth. In a following post I’m going to add my own tuppence worth which is meant as a supplement to this Arran post because, as you’ll see when you get to the end, the batteries for Arran’s camera gave out just as he was approaching the Bailey Lighthouse, and so I thought I’d do the walk and supply the missing pics (which you will find in ‘Summer in Dublin, part 4 [because Arran’s Howth post will be ‘part 3’ in my ‘Summer in Dublin’ series] on The Wordkern Archive). Perry O’D.

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