Have a Gawk from the Cliff Walk
If there’s one thing the Howth locals don’t take advantage of, it’s the scenic views that are on offer. The most popular one being the cliff walk. The trail itself starts at the East pier and begins to ascend at the King Sitric restaurant, following the northern coastline of the peninsula. As you pass Howth’s Literary Hub and come across the unkempt pathway of the cliff walk, the northern part of the walk opens eventually to reveal Ireland’s Eye, Lambay Island and the far-reaching views of the Irish Sea. This beautiful walk retains its exposure all the way through, with its seascape switching from the northern to the southern coastline. If you decide to walk as far as the Bailey Lighthouse, you’ll be able to see the Wicklow Mountains clearly.
Ireland’s Eye is a small uninhabited Island just off the coast of Howth, and can be reached by boat in about 15 minutes. Over the centuries, the Island was frequently used, as one can tell from its Martello tower and church ruins. However now it has been repossessed by nature. The Island itself is a cormorant colony, while it’s Stack – a natural rock formation; is one of Ireland’s biggest gannet colonies.
The Bailey Lighthouse located on the eastern coast of Howth was built in 1814, replacing its predecessor which was built in 1665. The Bailey was the last manned lighthouse in Ireland before turning automatic in 1996. Although the lighthouse itself isn’t open to the general public, the area is popular for its panoramic views of Dublin and Wicklow.
There are 3 Martello Towers on the Howth peninsula, all visible from parts of the Cliff Walk. Twenty-six of these towers were built along the coast of Dublin during the 19th century, as a defence system against Napoleon’s French forces. All are within a certain range of one another to allow for signals to be easily detected by the next tower in the sequence. Back then it was the quickest and most effective way of alerting the coastline of imminent attacks from across the water. All Martello Towers are identical, forty feet tall, with cannon resistant walls and a flat roof to allow for the complete rotation of an artillery weapon. The first tower can be found at Red Rock near Sutton, the second is on ‘Tower Hill’ in Howth’s village; which has been turned into a museum and the third is located on the west end of Ireland’s Eye which can be clearly seen from the Harbour.
This coastal cliff walk can take up to 2 and half hours to complete, however the path has plenty of passages that lead onto the road, and so early departure is simple and straight-forward.
Howth is a paradise for walkers, which many of our locals are. Recently though we’ve had an influx of special visitors and these aren’t just tourists from other shores! There have been a lot of sightings of various whales and bottlenose dolphins along the coast of Howth Head. So if you find yourself with nothing to do on a decent day, throw on some comfortable shoes and head on the cliff walk. Keep your eyes peeled for any fins in our waters, and feel free to post them online. Howth is now part of the Dublin Bay biosphere so all and any animal sightings are welcome and encouraged!