Ireland day 0138. Sunday 13 February 2022- Leading

Ireland day 0138. Sunday 13 February 2022- Leading
Today’s summary Led walk(s) from Bray for Dublin Walking Club.   I led a group of 5 up Bray Head, Val led 10 along the cliff path.   Ran stopped soon after we got to Bray and started again as soon as we got on the train home.   Amazing.   A good day out.
Today’s weather Poured with rain overnight and early morning. Dry for the five hours or so we were out walking.   No wind at sea level, breezy on Bray Head.   A few gleams of sun and good visibility when it stopped raining.   About 8C
Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Bray Head leading DWC

My heart sank this morning.

Today was a Big Day as far as I was concerned as I (well rather we – we will come to that in a minute) was leading my first walk for the Dublin Walking Club.   We had done lots of preparation for the walk and recce’d the route from Bray twice but there is only so much you can do in advance.   On the day you have to hope for the best and trust that the group will come along properly equipped.   But no matter how well you prepare you can’t do anything about the weather and that’s why I was on the verge of slipping into a rapid depression this morning because, as I opened the curtains, I immediately saw it was pouring with rain.   And the weather forecast didn’t really offer much hope of an improvement during the day.

Nevertheless we hauled ourselves out of bed and through the rain onto the 9am DART (a truly grim start to a Sunday morning) and arrived at Bray – where the walk was starting from – by 10:15.   A full 45 minutes before we were due to kick off, but ever keen to create a good impression, I didn’t want to be late.   As we shivered on the platform waiting for the first walkers to arrive, the rain came teeming down so we donned goretex layer upon goretex layer in an attempt to render ourselves waterproof.

Then suddenly a bit of a miracle happened.   Call it a divine intervention if you will, but just as we were beginning to envisage a truly awful day out, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, a glimmer of sun shone through, and the first walkers arrived!   Suddenly, by 11 o’clock, we were on a dry, bright railway platform, ready to start.   Or so I thought.  Actually we weren’t because I got a phone call to say that three more walkers were stuck on a bus in Dun Laoghaire so we had to wait a few minutes for them to make their way along the coast.

Eventually, sixteen of us were assembled and by just after 11:15, we were ready to start.  But by the end of the walk along the promenade, it was becoming clear that not everyone in the group would want – or perhaps even be able – to make the climb up to the top of Bray Head – the advertised destination for the walk.   Particularly as I knew the climb up was a bit of muddy scramble, and with the overnight rain, likely to be a torrent of water and knee deep in mud.   So at this point, Val heroically stepped into the rescue.

We decided to split the walk at the spot where the steep ascent to Bray Head starts – with Val leading ten of the less confident walkers along the cliff path, and me taking the other five up the scramble to the top.   (By the way if you were wondering what happened to our sixteenth walker – she decided that discretion was the better part of valour and decided to drop in and see her sister – who lives in Bray – for lunch instead).

And to our enormous relief, all of us made it to the top safely and the hugely positive side effect of the bad weather was that when we got there, there was nobody else except us.  The miraculous transformation in the weather continued, and superb vistas opened up all around once we got there.   So despite the fact that when we had arrived at the station just ninety minutes earlier, the whole headland was shrouded in fog, by the time we were standing by the top, we could see almost to infinity (and beyond!) in every direction.

The walk along the carriage path across the headland was straightforward and as nobody particularly wanted to make the additional detour to the highest point at Bray Head Hill, we were soon safely back down again on the cliff path about three kilometers south of Bray.   Fortunately, Val’s team had not rushed along the cliff path so we met up with them just as they were finishing their lunch stop.   They headed off back to Bray while we had a quick refreshment break at the same point, and followed them back north along the cliff path to Bray.

We decided to stop for a coffee in Bray and in that magical way that only seems to happen in Ireland, suddenly everyone from my group and everyone from Val’s group was there – and even the lady who had gone for lunch with her sister turned up.   So we enjoyed yet more banter at which point some of the team headed off to the pub for a bit more relaxing refreshment whereas Val and I – exhausted by the mental effort of leading – gratefully headed for the first DART back to Malahide.

So on arriving back at the flat my first reaction was “Phew!”    Firstly that the weather had so spectacularly improved (I should point out that as soon as we got on the DART home, it started pouring down again).   Secondly that Val had so heroically volunteered to lead the cliff path route, and thirdly that this first attempt at leading an expedition in a foreign country had gone OK, and that all sixteen who set off made it safely to the end (or at least washed up successfully in the pub).

So now I think we both do really deserve a glass (or more) of Chateau Supervalu to celebrate this momentous achievement – and maybe even time to pause and ask ourselves: “where shall we go next??”


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Arriving at Bray this morning.  One very wet DART train and one very wet wife on display Looking up to Bray Head from the station at 10:15.   Only just visible through the murk.   Oh dear, I thought.   This has all the hallmarks of a disaster in the making.
But just ninety minutes later, the cloud and rain had cleared so by halfway up the headland. the views north towards Dublin were opening up spectacularly. Here we are on the top.   Clear views in every direction and nobody else here to get in the way!   Thank goodness for the rain!
Looking south from a little further along the carriage path, down the coast to Greystones and even towards Wicklow beyond. Heading back along the Cliff Path ro Bray towards the end.   A quick pause here for a lesson railway engineering.
About to meet up with Val’s group (photo courtesy of Val!).   Honestly – I don’t normally look this grumpy (or at least I don’t think I do).   This is where the Bray Head summit walk drops down and meets the Cliff Path.   Over the fence at the right of this picture is the “EIRE” sign we visited on the recce last Thursday.   Once we had met the other group and had lunch, we turned back to Bray from this point.   Heading the other way, just beyond here the path to Greystones is closed by a landslide (though still passable, as we found out on New Years Day)
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 9222 m
Max elevation: 205 m
Min elevation: 0 m
Total climbing: 520 m
Total descent: -529 m
Total time: 04:00:33
Download file: Bray Head Leading DWC corrected.gpx

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