Ireland day 0038. Friday 05 November 2021- Benighted

Ireland day 0038. Friday 05 November 2021- Benighted
Today’s summary Admin and cleaning in the morning, then drove to Howth and completed an anticlockwise circular walk of the headland along the cliffs
Today’s weather Grey all day but no rain.   Very light wind.   About 12C
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Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location
(Click the button below to download a GPX of our walk):
Howth cliffs

I am pleased to report some partial progress today.

Val’s PPS number has come through, which is a big step in the right direction as this means she can start the next process – of exchanging her UK driving licence for an Irish one.  Unfortunately there is still no sign of mine, but at least now we have a contact phone number in the PPS office which I can call if nothing materialises in the next few days.  Technically speaking, I can’t drive any more, as you are supposed to exchange your licence within a month of arrival in Ireland – which is something of an impossibility since the process to get your prerequisite PPS number already takes twice that long.   Being a completer-finisher type person, though, it’s a bit annoying that only of of us has the magic number, and the other half of the business is unfinished.   Anyway, there’s no enormous rush and I feel reasonably confident about driving for a day or two longer, given the contradictions involved in actually doing the licence swap.

So having spent the morning figuring out how to manage numbers and licences, and doing a spot of hoovering with the new toy, we decided to use one of our remaining days with the car to travel down the coast and go back to Howth.   When we’d been there a couple of weeks ago with the walking club, we had done a high level walk over the top of the headland and deliberately avoided the main coastal path.   On that occasion, being a sunny weekend, the coast path was busy and best left for another day.

Well, today was that other day.   Midweek, not sunny, but dry and wind-free, it was an ideal opportunity to check out the normally-popular cliff-top circuit of the island.   As it happened, we cut out the left hand end of the circuit and headed straight out of Howth harbour and up and over the middle of the peninsula to join the coast path mid way round on the other  (Dublin harbour) side.   The anticlockwise circuit was a real joy – in many ways like one of the best sections of the Pembrokeshire coast path.   Lots of little beaches, grassy headlands covered in thrift which must look pretty in the springtime, and plenty of historic interest too.   The views are spectacular – first to the north over Sutton and the Velvet Strand leading to Portmarnock, and on to Portrane.   And once over the top of the headland, south to Wicklow and the magnificent watery expanse of Dublin harbour.

We lingered over a late lunch in beautiful little cove then realised that evening was already beginning to make its shadowy presence felt – yet we were only about a quarter of the way round.   So we bolted down the last of our sandwiches, took a swig of coffee from the Thermos, and quickened our pace round the rest of the circuit.   The lighthouse started its nightly watch, casting a welcoming beam of light over the harbour as we passed by.  Then by the time we got to the cliffiest bit, it was pretty much completely dark.   Fortunately the path was easy to follow by that stage, so the presence of 60 metre/ 200ft cliffs only a couple of paces to our right wasn’t too disconcerting.

Nevertheless, it was something of a relief to see the harbour lights of Howth sparkling into view as we turned the last headland, and the streetlights of a nearby road waiting to guide us back to the car.

We had planned to stop by the supermarket to collect the next week’s shopping on our way home.   But both of us were enjoying the comfortable reverie that comes after you’ve done something a bit challenging but thoroughly lovely, so we decided to park the fluorescent lights, hand sanitisers, face masks and trolleys for another day.   Tesco can wait!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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Setting out from Howth harbour up into the headland countryside.  There’s actually a pretty good path most of the way, which makes a nice change Looking north towards Portmarnock.   The spit of land connecting Howth to the “Mainland” is clearly visible, with the town of Sutton located right on it.  Looks like a high tide would completely wash it way
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Well waymarked, though the different trains can get a bit confused at times. This Martello tower is privately owned and is actually available to rent.  But at €1000 for a mid week break in the off-season, it’s not cheap
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this secret path was hidden behind a locked gate in the middle of the clifftops.  No idea where it led but the forbidden nature of the access just made you want to find out more Looking to our destination at Howth harbour as darkness fell this evening.   The walk was longer than I’d estimated so we somewhat ran out of daylight
We walked anticlockwise round the right hand end of the headland.   NB the size of the harbour is somewhat exaggerated in this pictorial map
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