Marlay Park to the Wicklow Way

Marlay Park is a great place to walk, to bring the kids for a run around or to catch up with friends over coffee and cake in the Market. It’s also the starting point of the Wicklow Way, one of the best known long-distance walking routes in Ireland (127km).  Usually done in stages, the first stage to Knockree (21km) can take up to 7hrs. We opted for a shorter hike, setting off early at around 9.30am – I’d never seen the car park so empty!

The weather was perfect, a real Spring feel in the air. We made our way to the top of the park (not a buggy in sight), out onto College road and passed under the M50 motorway towards Kilmashogue. It wasn’t long before we were away from the traffic.  From here, it was uphill all the way but I was glad for the exercise. It was a beautiful walk through Tibradden woods, reaching Barnacullia two hours after setting off. We had somehow taken a wrong turn earlier adding half an hour or so. Too much yapping!

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The views of the city were spectacular, the Poolbeg Chimneys clearly visible. A perfect place to rest and refuel.

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Although we could have kept going, we were happy to turn back. I was looking forward to coffee and some treats in the Market.

We arrived back to the top of Marlay Park around 1pm, it was much busier than earlier. Lots of buggies! Families and friends out walking, young ones playing football.

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I was craving coffee and a vanilla chocolate éclair from the Armelle’s Kitchen stall – hands down the best éclairs I’ve ever tasted. Delighted to hear they’ve just opened a new shop in Dalkey. Check it out.

IMG_1375A lovely Sunday walk. The Wicklow Way is definitely up there on my list!

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Bray to Greystones cliff walk

Itching to get out for a hike after a long, wet January, my good friend Jane suggested the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones, “if the weather picks up at the end of the week”, she said. Three weeks later, it was looking good!  Although it was still raining when I woke, I was confident it would clear. I dressed in layers, grabbed my (almost) waterproof jacket and set off to Bray. *Note to self buy new hiking gear.*

Low and behold, as I drove through Dublin city centre the rain cleared and the sun’s silhouette was visible through grey clouds. In fairness, it would have been totally jammy if I saw blue in the sky and sure, I hadn’t prepared for actual sun! I arrived to Jane’s just before noon and we headed off without delay so we’d beat the rain. Every Irish person will understand this.

As we meandered through the cliffs, we shared each other’s news and woes.  Slowly, and looking out at the stunning views, my shoulders began to feel much lighter. We even gave the DART a wave when it beeped as it passed beneath us. Convinced it was beeping at us, we laughed and I of course took a pic – bless Jane’s patience.

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The cliff walk is one of the most popular walks in Bray for locals and tourists. We were only two of a few people who had ventured out in the cold that day but it was totally worth it. The walk itself is not challenging. It’s about 6.5km to Greystones Harbour from the bandstand in Bray and fairly even throughout. The rain was our only challenge and it had held off at that stage.

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On our approach to Greystones the hunger was on me. I saw road works ahead of us, which were part of the massive harbour development. I was glad Jane was familiar with the detour, although it was only slight and it didn’t make much of an impact on our walk. I managed to get a pic down at the beach looking back on our journey we had made. We’d been walking for almost an hour but it hadn’t felt like it thanks to the amazing scenery and great company.

 

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We made it to our destination, The Happy Pear  – the perfect pit stop to refuel with hearty, wholesome goodness. I went for the delicious, chunky Moroccan soup and a selection of healthy breads and Jane went for a plate of salads bursting with flavour and colour. We didn’t want to feel too full for the return journey so we reluctantly abstained from the tempting array of desserts. Instead, I had a good, strong Americano and Jane had tea infused with fresh mint leaves – she’s always really healthy!  The place was buzzing and it was difficult to leave our warm, comfy seats but eventually we gathered our coats, gloves and scarves and set off for our return journey home.

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Rain threatened, it was spitting down on us so we quickened the pace. With bellies full, the struggle was real. Looking back towards Wicklow, the views were striking. I stopped to take a few more pics. Knowing that the walk ahead of us was going to be kind made the hike more pleasing. I managed to quickly take a couple more photos before the rain started to come down a little heavier.

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Towards the end of our lovely hike we spotted a lone ranger in the distance, enjoying the views. I wondered where he was from and what he was thinking about. By this stage I was at total peace and completely mindful of just how good a walk in the fresh air surrounded by beauty truly is for the soul.

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Thank you Jane, the Bray to Greystones walk in Wicklow is always beautiful, whatever the weather.

Wicklow, also known as The Garden of Ireland, is at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. To find out more check out Visit Wicklow