We have all lost a little fitness level since the Covid-19 pandemic brought movement restrictions and lock down to our lives. Unless you were one of the lucky few whose 2km, 5km or 20km exercise limit gave you access to mountain paths and leafy valleys, you have probably lost some muscle tone and endurance. Of course, some folks trekked up and down their stairs or worked out to online Zoom classes. And others trekked to and from the fridge. But whatever your experience was, those of us who treasure the outdoors will be looking forward to getting our walking boots, getting out into nature again and truly appreciating our outdoor adventures.
Here are some easy day hikes within easy access of Dublin, to get you, and the family, back in trekking mode:
Howth Head Cliff Walk Dublin – 3.5 miles and 2 hours
You may have to share this hike with other likeminded people as the proximity to urban centres and public transport means that Howth is a very popular outdoor destination. Go early in the day and watch the sun rise over the Atlantic. Or go late in the evening when the breezes are cooler and the light is soft. It’s a 3.5 mile loop walk along cliff tops with the most amazing view of the famous lighthouses and all the beauty that Dublin Bay has to offer.
Start at the Dart station in this pretty fishing village and follow the green arrow trails along the route. There is plenty of climbing to get your heart pumping again and to get the legs warmed up. It’s a track that can be rocky and uneven at times, with sharp cliff drops, so wear appropriate shoes and keep an eye on the wee ones.
Dublin Mountains Way – 8.7km Looped Hell Fire Club and Masseys Woods Loop
The Dublin Mountains Way is 40km of incredible trails. Take it in bite sized pieces and walk just a part of it. There are plenty of routes available and as it well signposted, with yellow man signs, it is not difficult to find the trail that suits you and your walking companions. Hell fire Club at the summit of the Montpelier Hill in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains is infamous for its stories of a spooky and devilish past. It gives incredible views over the Dublin city.
A great spot to start this long-ish walk. It’s a walk rather than a hike and is rated easy so ideal for family and for getting the endurance back, rather than the climbing muscles. On a sunny day, you can see most of the city, and way out to sea. Very satisfying trail to whet the appetite for the big adventures to come.
Bray to Greystones – 4.5 miles and 2.5 hours
A stunning trail winding high along the coastline. The Cliff Walk from Bray to Greystones is about 7 kilometres long, takes about 2 and a half hours to complete and boasts some of the most amazing views of the East Coast, right across the Atlantic ocean. Starting point is the seafront at Bray. There is a steep climb to give you the challenge you crave, but the rewards of those breathtaking views will make it all worthwhile.
There is an abundance of wildlife, seabirds, dolphins, harbour porpoise and even basking sharks. Most people go from Bray to Greystones, but if you feel oppositional, you can go the other way round! Most of us prefer a looped walk and this trail is definitely an out and back trek, but you can get the train back to your starting point, and make the day an even more enjoyable experience.
The Scalp Lookout Trail – 1 mile… less than an hour
Just one and a half kilometres south east of Kilternan on the minor road to Enniskerry, is Barnaslingan Forest on the eastern slope of the Scalp. It is the starting point for a few easy walks, but the lookout trail is the one you want to choose as you ease back into your walking mode. Follow the red way markers for this track. If you are really quiet, you may glimpse the wild white goats that live here. It is a dense pine wood and easy looped track, but then branches out to the breath taking Scalp lookout where the view has to be seen to be believed.
Ticknock Walk – 1.5 hours
The Fairy Castle Loop. Literally on the doorstep! No need to travel far to enjoy some good mountain trekking. A scenic looped walk on forest road and path through the Three Rock Wood and upwards to reveal amazing views of the city from Three Rock Mountain and Fairy Castle. At the top, there is a 360 degree panoramic view with the city to the north and the Wicklow Mountains to the south.
From Fairy Castle a muddy track heads west before you turn north and descend along the edge of the forest and back to the car. It is rough enough terrain so very much geared towards properly equipped and experienced walkers. Good stout hiking boots and wet gear are needed, even though it is just an hour and a half of moderate hiking to complete this loop. It might be just the one to blow away the cobwebs and get those walking muscles into shape again. Ticknock also has about 10km of marked walking trails if you fancy trying something more strenuous.
If the movement restriction of Covid-19 have taught us anything (and we have been taught many things) it is to cherish and appreciate the wonders of the world around us. The closeness of nature and the effect it has, not just on our physical health, but on our mental wellbeing. Let’s get out there and truly enjoy our outdoor adventures leaving nothing behind and taking just the memories home.