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GO Explore – Trails to Recharge your Soles

  • Athletes
  • Friday 24th January, 2020
  • By Ellie Berry

As I stepped out into the cold one recent evening to head home, I noticed a sliver of daylight break over the trees, and as I walked, the sun tie-dyed the sky with burning reds. I couldn’t stop a smile – that extra moment of sunlight was enough to make me think of outdoor adventures once more and added some unexpected energy to my commute home.

Everyone feels the pull to the outdoors differently, and for Carl and myself, in 2017, we felt the pull to be outside and in nature so strong that we decided to quit our jobs and go hiking. We created Tough Soles as a way of sharing our adventure, and over the following two-and-a-half years, we walked over 4,000km, completing all of Ireland’s long-distance walking routes: the National Waymarked Trails. This list of 42 trails includes routes such as the Wicklow Way and the Kerry Way, taking us from windy peninsulas in Co. Cork to the mountains and bogs of Donegal, and everywhere in between.

Since that sunset on my walk home, I’ve been so excited to hit the trails again. Winter can be a hard season to get out during, but as our days slowly stretch, I’m starting to make lists and plans of places I want to see. In this piece, I’m going to share a couple of day hikes that I’ve done recently that are easy to get to and from Dublin via public transport. They vary in distance and difficulty, and all have their own allure. If you’re looking for some nice trails to get you exploring now that spring is arriving, here are some trails to recharge your soles.

Bray Head Loop

Bray Head has a really beautiful looped walk around its headland – and I’m not talking about the cliff walk that takes you to Greystones! There is another trail there, and each time we’ve walked it, we’ve been met with nothing but wind and sunshine. This lovely trail is the Bray Head Loop Walk.

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Once in Bray, we walked up towards Bray Head, and at the start of the cliff walk took the right-hand turn that takes you up to the cross. The climb up is steeper than I’d expected, and at the top, the trail is very rocky but worth climbing. From the top, the views down over Bray and the surrounding area are beautiful. Behind the cross, heading away from Bray, there’s a small gate. On that gate is the map of the Bray Head looped walk. At about 6km, this trail runs parallel to the more famous cliff walk for quite a while, but much higher up the cliff. The trail then turns right and heads down past the golf course, linking down onto the road to head back into Bray.

Shankill to the Scalp

The Dublin Mountains Way is one of the National Waymarked Trails that we walked. It starts in Shankill near the coast, heads up into the mountains, and then back down into the city at Tallaght. The whole route is over 40km long, but there are points where it crosses paths with some buses! My favourite easy short hike section of this trail is to walk from Shankill to The Scalp, which is less than 10km.

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Within 20 minutes of starting in the city, the trail is on tracks, slowly winding up and out into the hills. Carrickgollogan lead mine chimney appears out of nowhere, a disused structure that lets imaginations fly away up its spiralling stairs if you’re not careful.

Not long from the lead mine, the area known as the Scalp (near Enniskerry) is almost within sight, and the deciduous forests and small dirt trails that lead you there is a beautiful place to explore.

On reaching the main road through the scalp, it’s a few steps up the road towards the garage to the bus stop that heads back into the city centre.

The Bohernabreena Reservoir

The Bohernabreena Reservoir is at the other end of the Dublin Mountains Way. To get to the reservoirs, I either walk the Dublin Mountains Way trail out from Tallaght or take the bus to Kiltipper and join the trail there! Once at the reservoir, it’s possible to follow the Upper Reservoir Loop or just following your own route around the area. It’s a very peaceful way to spend an afternoon, another place where you can easily step out of the city.

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The walks and areas I’ve written about above are nearly always quiet places, not often featured on big lists of places to go on a day hike. They are places for breathing in the fresh air, for leaving the city behind and being in nature. If you go there, or anywhere else, make sure to take care of the environment, and before you head out, look up the Leave No Trace Ireland principles – they can be handy to read as you pack your bag to make sure you’re prepared and don’t forget anything!

If you’re looking for more information about trails around Ireland, we have made videos and blog posts about every trail we’ve walked, as well as advice about camping and the gear we carry! You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.

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