Friday, August 29, 2014

Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

After taking a solo trip down to Bray, I couldn't wait to bring Sara down for a walk on the well-known Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk. I even abstained from exploring the Bray Head trail because I knew Sara would want to climb it with me. On a sunny Saturday, we took the train down to Bray to stretch our legs and smell the sea air...

Bray Head from Sea Level Bray, Ireland
Bray Head from Sea Level

Bray Head is a massive stony outcropping just south of Bray Village. The nicely-kept Strand Road and seaside walk took us all the way from the train station to the trailhead.

Steep steps went up from sea level before the trail became a stony and tree-rooty path.

Bray Head Steps Bray, Ireland
Bray Head Steps

Along the trail are little step-outs for views and photos. Google+ Photos made this nice little panoramic view with a few of our shots from about halfway up Bray Head.

Bray and the Dublin Mountains from Bray Head, Ireland
Bray and the Dublin Mountains

When we got high enough, we could see Dublin Bay and the twin smokestacks of the old power station in Dublin Port. In the far-far distance, we could just make out the Mountains of Morne in County Down, Northern Ireland. I don't know why, but I still nerd out whenever I can look across an international border. If we were climbing those mountains, we'd have the Queen on our money and the speed limit signs would be in miles per hour.

Dublin from 10 Miles Away in Bray, Co. Wicklow
Dublin from 10 Miles Away

At the top of Bray Head, a concrete cross can be seen as a little stick from ground level. At the top it's... a concrete cross. On Good Friday, people climb the Head reading the Stations of the Cross before finishing here at the top with a little service.

Cross on Bray Head Bray, Ireland
Cross on Bray Head

From the top, we got a great view of Bray, Dublin, and the surrounding Dublin and Wicklow Mountains.

Bray Town from the top of Bray Head, Ireland
Bray Town

We climbed back down to sea level to start the next phase of our big hike that day, the 7 km (4 1/3 mile) walk along the cliffs from Bray town to neighboring Greystones. This walk stays much closer to sea level, and there is very little climbing involved. This is an easier day walk for a lot of people, and the trail was busy with tourists and locals enjoying the nice weekend weather.

A few of the walkers had large bowls of foraged wild blackberries, which are in peak season right now. I helped myself to some of the straggling berries that the less adventurous (or shorter) berry foragers missed.

Cory Reaching for Blackberries Bray, Ireland
Cory Reaching for Blackberries

For most of the walk, the trail is on a steep cliff face looking down at the crashing waves and the historic rail line running along these sheer cliffs. Today, the DART commuter train uses these tracks, giving visitors a great view from the comfort of their own seats.

Cliffs of Bray to Greystones
Cliffs of Bray to Greystones

Obligatory Cory-Looking-at-the-Water Shot Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Obligatory Cory-Looking-at-the-Water Shot

As the trail nears its southern end, the cliffs flatten out to open farmland. The last mile or so is a gradual decline through the wheatfields and sheep pastures into the small harbor town of Greystones.

Last Leg of the Trail from Bray to Greystones Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Last Leg of the Trail

At the end, we had a well-deserved snack and drink in small-but-cute Greystones. The DART train terminates at the Greystones station, so hikers don't have to turn around and walk the cliffs again. We caught the train to avoid the extra walking and to catch the view of the sea and the cliffs from the famous Bray rail line that we had seen from the trail.

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