Home Uncategorized Stretch your Legs on the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

Stretch your Legs on the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

by Roberto
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April 2021 Update: The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk is currently closed due to rock slides on the route.

If there’s one walk that’s the perfect day trip from Dublin, then it may well be the Bray to Greystones cliff walk. Adored by generations of all ages, and practically a institution at this stage. Its route travels some of the best scenery of the east coast, past rock faces and the blue Irish Sea. It’s a walk that should be experienced to the fullest. To really live it and enjoy it, read on.

This is not just a mere coastal walk. The two towns that it connects each have their own claim as the more famous in County Wicklow.

Bray’s fame is as a seaside town, one it has had since the 1850’s when the train line was extended. Hotels sprang up, and the stony beach of Bray became famous with holidaymakers for over a century. Towering above the town is Bray Head at the end of the promenade. International travel saw its decline as warmer and sandier climates came into favour. But Bray still retains that seaside charm, as daytrippers descend for its stretch of sea, bars and amusements. The annual Bray airshow is also the premier aviation event in the Irish calendar. It may well be the Brighton of Ireland.

Greystones on the other hand is more modern. It’s fame is firmly centered on its growth over the last few decades as one of the trendiest towns on the east coast. It is the foodie capital of County Wicklow, with a significant number of restaurants for each of its 18000 people. Greystones coastline also features more traditional sandy beaches than those in its counterpart. For this reason it’s the perfect place to end the 8 km trail, though either way can be walked.


The Allure of the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

Away from the two prominent towns on each end, we get to the real reason we are here. The cliff walk Bray to Greystones follows one of the most scenic coastal routes in Ireland’s east. The walk is the perfect summer’s day activity for those looking to escape the city, and is suited for all with a moderate fitness level. Those looking for a greater challenge can combine it with the more vertical Bray Head Cliff Walk. Besides the magnificent views over the Irish Sea, the trail provides one of the best opportunities to see some of Ireland’s marine life. Dolphins, Porpoises and Basking Sharks can all be spotted in the sparkling waters below.


Directions to Bray

The walk can be attempted from either direction, but is somewhat easier to follow by moving south. The proper way to do the walk is using the DART, the light rail system running from North to South through Dublin and finishing in Greystones. City centre train stations include Connolly, Tara Street, and Pearse Street. This 30 minute journey isn’t just about getting from A to B, it’s an experience in itself. Hugging the coast in its latter parts near Bray, it’s Ireland’s finest train journey, with rousing views. Following the walk the train is usually taken back from Greystones’ Church Road that runs through the heart of the town. Should you wish to do the cliff walk from Greystones to Bray, it is the last stop on the route.

Travelling by car to Bray is an alternative option. However it should be noted that in summer and at weekends, that approach roads to the town are often heavily backlogged. The journey from Dublin can easily take an hour if not more. As long as you are prepared for that, it’s a 20 km journey from Dublin along the N11. Junction 5 leads to Bray north and signage (and the traffic) will lead you from there. There is a significant number of parking spaces in the town, particularly along the promenade and near Bray Head. keep an eye on the signage where you park, some zones offer 2 hours free parking, and additional hours are charged at between €0.30 and €1.


Some Facts about the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

  • The price of an all day return ticket to Bray from Dublin’s Connolly station is €6.75.
  • There is a large car park all along Bray’s promenade with very modest all day pricing rates
  • The trail is about 8.5 km in length one way to Greystones
  • The walk time from Bray to Greystones is generally around 2 hours and the elevation gain is around 180 metres.
  • The walk is perfect for families. Some younger kids may bemoan the length though. There are steps at times, which make it unsuitable for wheelchairs.
  • Hiking boots aren’t essential, but a good pair of sports shoes is recommended. The trail can be muddy in places.
  • Bring water, snacks, a waterproof jacket (it is Ireland), sunscreen, and your camera
  • One of the highlight of the trail is the wildlife. As well as Dolphins, Black Harbour Porpoises and Basking Sharks, common lizards (Ireland’s only reptile) can be seen sunning themselves on the rock faces.
  • Sea birds whose habitat is the Irish east coast include Fulmars, Cormorants, and Terns.
  • The best months to experience the Cliff walk are May through October, but it is possible to do year round. .
  • Remember to leave no trace.

Step by Step on the Bray to Greystones Walk

We travelled by DART from the south suburbs of Dublin. Bray is a busy town even in the midst of a pandemic so its best to come prepared for that, even in summer. As you arrive in Bray, an alleyway running by some small shops then takes you towards the promenade. If you need a bit of caffeine to set you up for the walk then I have to recommend CarpeDiem Coffee and wine bar. Of course if you want to start with some wine I can happily recommend that too.

Carpe Diem Cafe Bray

Bray Promenade runs for 1 km along the sea front, and besides that aforementioned stony beach there’s much more to look at. A stretch of green takes you towards Bray Head passing a beautiful bandstand and colourful beach huts. If you are doing the walk in reverse towards Bray, pubs such as Wilde Bar and the Martello Bar have beer gardens opening out onto Bray seafront. The Wilde bar is part of the Strand Hotel which was once the home of Oscar Wilde.

If you simply want to cool down, Teddy’s Ice Cream is on hand. Teddy’s is an institution on the east coast, and their 99 is an experience that must be had if you are only visiting Ireland. The mildly pleasing Sea Life Bray Aquarium might help if you failed to spot any marine life out on the sea.

Bray Promenade
Bray Promenade
Pray Promenade
Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Teddy's Ice Cream

Bray Head

The cliff walk from Bray to Greystones starts nearly directly at the end of the promenade. To the right the optional trail up Bray Head features a stiff climb over rough terrain. The reward for those taking this route is the wide ranging views from Bray Head Cross over the Wicklow Mountains National Park and Dublin. This is as close as it gets to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Ireland. Nearby is the Raheen-A-Cluig church from the 12th century, a place with its own unique history of smugglers, ghosts and healing wells.


The Cliff Walk

After a mild increase in elevation, the path begins. It runs along the same path as the railway, with a winding trail hugging the edge of the cliff. The railway line was designed by Brunel, the famed engineer, and opened in 1856. For all Brunel’s mastery though, the track suffered some tunnel collapses due to coastal erosion and had to move further inland. One of the collapsed tunnels can still be seen. In 1867 the collapse claimed two lives. The trail demands little of you, so you get to focus your attentions on enjoying the views, and hopefully spotting playful dolphins or lounging lizards.

All along the way a carpet of seasonal wildflowers lines the path. There are more distractions en-route too. The vantage points of the train whizzing past below. The ruined redbrick remains of the Lord Meath Lodge. This was built at the time the coastal path opened, as the trail was said to cross the lands of Killruddery house, the domicile of William Barbazon aka Lord Meath. The lodge served as a toll house and one penny was charged from everyone who walked the trail beyond the point. Now its mostly in ruins besides a gable and a stairs that climbs to a higher vantage point.

Not far from this point is a little inlet known as the Brandy Hole, used by smugglers to land. Reputedly there was a cave which they used to bring in goods inland, but it no longer exists.

Cliff Walk Bray to Greystones
Greystones to Bray Cliff Walk
Lord Meath Lodge
Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

Greystones

The final stretch of the walk approaches Greystones. The land flattens to be surrounded by meadows which shine golden in the summer sun. Urban development does take some of the gloss off the walk in this section, as tall wire fences lead you towards Greystones Marina. Below the sands of Greystones North Beach are a tempting distraction on the warmest of days.

Greystones Harbour Marina is a welcome sight as you approach the town. It’s not exactly clear where to go from this point, and two options present, the first along the Marine Road, and then by La Touche Road and Place to Church Road. A shorter option is up Trafalgar Road to Church Road. From here its a short walk to the train station.

Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Greystones North Beach
Greystones North Beach
Greystones Church

Where to Eat in Greystones

Of course, you don’t want to leave Greystones in a hurry. The place is foodie heaven. The first stop if you haven’t been has to be the Happy Pear, one of the greatest Irish culinary success stories. Bring vegetarian food to the masses is their greatest achievement. Even the most carnivorous among us (ME) was blown away by their offerings. However if meat is a must, The Hungry Monk, Bochelli, the Fat Fox are just a few suggestions. Whatever your preference of cuisine, Greystones is up to the task.

If you arrive with a sweet tooth La Creperie Pierre Grise in the Harbour might be just the answer. As we discovered on the end of our walk in 2020. Its crepes are fluffy and iced coffees really hit the spot after all the exertions.

La Creperie Pierre Grise

What Else to do Near Bray and Greystones

Having already piqued your curiosity about the greedy landlords that presided over the trail in the 19th century, its only fair I recommend a visit to Killruddery House. One of Ireland’s finest paladin mansions, its even better than the nearby Powerscourt in this writers opinion. The 17th century gardens are a thing of beauty, and its many features include weekend markets, a farm shop, and a café. The gardens are modeled on the gardens at Versailles. One of its most unique features is a Sylvian theater, a natural amphitheater.

Tours run during the summer of the house which is still occupied by the current Lord Meath and his family. They recently celebrated 400 years in the house. A walk through is a fascinating walk through opulence and their history. The glass house is the tours center point, which was inspired after a visit to the magnificent, but now only a memory Crystal Palace in London.

Killruddery House

Where to Stay Near the Bray or Greystones Cliff Walk

While Bray and Greystones might not be traditionally considered overnight destinations, they do have a few options available. Generally when one stays in Wicklow it is to enjoy views of the countryside. The history of the Strand Hotel in Bray shades it on its counterparts, while in Greystones hotels are more sparse, with the Glenview Hotel and Druids Glen in nearby Newtown Mount Kennedy the closest purveyors of fine luxury.

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Guided Walks in Wicklow

If organising and finding your own way to some of Wicklow’s walks aren’t of interest to you, there’s help at hand. Get Your Guide has a number of guided walks run by reputable and experienced local companies.


Other Walks in Dublin and Wicklow

Most of my Irish hiking is on the east coast in Dublin and the Wicklow. For some travel guides on hikes there check out the following articles.

30 Best walks in Dublin

The Spinc Glendalough

Djouce Mountain

Poolbeg Lighthouse Walk

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Travel Insurance

Now more than ever is the time to consider adding travel insurance for your trip. The travel industry is very fragile, and cancellations, business closes and lockdowns are indeed a distinct possibility. Protect yourself against them with World Nomads travel insurance. World Nomads offer a no obligation quote, and now protect domestic trips also.


Have you walked from Bray to Greystones? Let me know your experiences in the comments below.


Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

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