On Thursday I saw a tweet that indicated the weather this weekend was going to be gorgeous. Wanting to take advantage of the lack of rain and warmer temperatures to get in a little bit of hiking, I suggested we do the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk, a 7km hike from – as the name suggests – Bray to Greystones. We really want to get more walks in while we’re here since Ireland has many famous routes and it’s a great way to see some of Ireland’s smaller, hidden gems. This particular path, while rated “moderate” difficulty felt like a good place for us to start.
You can imagine our surprise when we woke up on Saturday morning and it was raining. Off and on throughout the day, the weather was pretty baltic. A number of times Alan said to me, “I don’t have high hopes for tomorrow.” We decided not to throw in the towel too early, however, and stated that unless it was pouring, we’d give it a shot. We dressed for rain and colder temps since we’d be near the coast. (You totally see where I’m going with this, don’t you?) At around 10 a.m. we set off from home, made a pit stop in the suburbs to pick up a couple of bottles of special whiskey, and then drove down to Bray. We were surprised to find it was only a 15 minute drive from Sandyford, where Alan works. On the map it seems much further. We rolled in to Bray and already I knew we were going to be in trouble in terms of gear we’d chosen to wear.
Starting at the beach in Bray, we walked along the coastal path before reaching the end where it veers upward for a bit. The incline isn’t too steep, just enough to let you know you’re working for it. Almost immediately you’re out of town and surrounded by green hills, yellow gorse, and dramatic sea views. As the name implies, the Cliff Walk is cut into the mountainside and follows a path that hugs the coast and drops down to the train tracks below.
From what I could find online, the Cliff Walk was built during the construction of the DART line to facilitate the movement of workers and rail line equipment. Along the walk you’ll pass the ruins of a small house that was once Lord Meath’s Lodge and a toll gate where the public was charged a penny for entry. Also in this area was a spot called Brady Hole, a cave notorious for smugglers who stopped in before making their way down the coast to the Port of Dublin to offload their legitimate cargo.
With the rain the day before there were several patches of mud we had to navigate around, but overall the trail is decently maintained. There are natural rocks jutting up from the ground so you need to be careful not to trip over them or twist your ankle, but anyone with even a modicum of agility should be fine (we saw several people who I’d guess were in their 70s, as well as tiny children and miniature dogs). There are a few steep staircases to climb which I found slightly difficult only because the height of each step is a little higher than I am used to and as someone with incredibly short legs I found it a bit of a struggle to get proper footing. With three flights of stairs to traverse in my house, stairs are not something that bother me anymore, but these few gave me pause.
After about an hour, give or take a few minutes depending on how fast you walk, you get your first glimpse of Greystones off in the distance, and from that point on, the remainder of the hike is a slow descent through grass fields lined with even more bright gold gorse. Also, on this part of the trail there were tons of ugly black flying things that will probably give me nightmares tonight. Finally, you reach the end of the trail at Greystones Harbour which is going through a lot of construction right now while some luxury waterfront apartments and townhomes are being built. And then your walk is over. We stopped in to eat lunch and grab a couple of pints at The Beach House, and then it was onto the DART for our short journey back to Bray. A hike that took us about two hours is only an eight minute train ride, if you can believe it!
Estimated time: 2.5hrs
Total height climbed: 130m
Terrain underfoot: Footpath