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.
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.