On the southern side of Dublin Bay is an exciting cliff walk in Co. Wicklow. The walk is seven kilometers and rises to 100 meters above the sea. You can start in the town of either Bray or Greystones. On a recent Sunday I choose to begin at the farthest point –Greystones– and walk back to Bray.
The easiest way to get to Greystones –apart from driving– is to take the Dart, the light rail that runs around Dublin Bay. Sit on the left-hand side facing forward, and you will have great views of the bay as the train hugs the coast, passing the towns of Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey and Killiney.
The town of Greystones has two beaches, one sandy and the other stony, where it gets its name from. It has many Victorian seaside villas, lots of coffee shops, restaurants and some quirky shops.
Walk east along the harbour, past the park, and the cliff path begins here. The start of the trail from Greystones is narrow and bounded by high hedgerows. It is single file in places, you can hear the sea below.
Slowly and gradually, it begins to climb upwards and the sea then reveals itself. The farther you go, the higher it gets and the scenery becomes more dramatic. As you walk you will begin to see the railway tracks below as it goes in and out of the tunnels bored into the hillside.
An Extraordinary Engineering Feat
To complete this engineering feat in the mid 19th century, advice was sought from the renowned engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
At times the path is narrow and close up to the cliffside, in places metal netting keeps the rocks from falling on walkers. Along the way there is evidence of landslides, the most recent was in February 2021.
On a clear day you can see across Dublin Bay to the Baily Lighthouse and the cliff walk at Howth. The nearby Dalkey Island also looks close by at this height. The path winds around the cliff and becomes more solid underfoot as you get closer to Bray.
One curiosity on the way is Lord Meath of Kilruddery’s Lodge, the only building along the route, now tumbledown. It was here the lord extracted a payment of one penny from walkers as the path crossed his land. The gate was closed on Fridays for his family to use themselves.
As the path rounds Bray Head, the seaside town comes into view with its long sweeping stony beach. Bray is a traditional seaside town with ice-cream parlours, slot machines, fish and chips, and grand dame hotels. However, there are signs of change, with lots of new restaurants, hotels and a fine town centre being built.
The beauty of this day out is the easy access from Dublin city by bus, 84x from Hawkins Street or Dart light rail. The walk takes between 1.5 and two hours. Enjoy.