Ireland day 0194. Sunday 10 April 2022- Deerpark

Ireland day 0194. Sunday 10 April 2022- Deerpark
Today’s summary Took the bus and DART down to Howth to join Dublin Walking Club for a walk round the Deer Park estate and some of the lesser known paths of the peninsula
Today’s weather Overcast and mostly dry with a light shower in the afternoon.   Feeling cool in the strong south easterly breeze.   About 9C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Deer Park DWC

OK weather – you can start to get warm now.   My shorts are itching to get out of the wardrobe – where they have been stowed away since we arrived last September – and it’s about time the weather co-operated.   Though I think we all knew that a cold spring was a possibility when we were deceived by the warm spells we had back in February, then again during the fateful fortnight in March when we didn’t walk the Wicklow Way, I think there’s always a bit of a vain hope that summer will show up early anyway.   So far though, April has dashed our hopes and seems to have been particularly cool – probably colder in fact than most of December or January.   And today felt especially raw as there was no sun to brighten things up.

Anyway, Val and I decided to make the most of our free day to join the Dublin Walking Club for another exploration of the Howth peninsula.   So we were up early (ish) and having deduced that Howth is always busy and parking is a nightmare, travelled down the coast first by the 102 to Sutton then by DART to Howth, to join the rest of the club.   We’ve been to Howth quite a few times already so I tended to think there was nothing left to explore, but I was completely wrong.   For a start, we visited Howth Castle early on in the walk – it’s a huge place and I didn’t even know it existed.   It’s a bit run down at the moment,  as it is currently transitioning from being the ancestral home of the St Lawrence (Earl of Howth) family to an becoming up-market deluxe resort and wedding venue.   Right now though it seems to be suspended somewhere in between.

We climbed on up past the castle and through the golf and hotel complex (which is all part of the castle demesne) and into the magnificent rhododendron-enshrouded cliff garden at the back.   Like the castle itself, the garden is a bit neglected but that might actually be a good thing as the plants have been left to go wild.   As a result some of the rhododendrons have grown to massive proportions.   Today, they were just coming into flower – a whole rainbow of colours, actually, not just the normal purple – but In think if we get a bit of warm sunny weather (not looking likely, by the way) they will be even more impressive in a couple of weeks time.

We followed a narrow maze of paths up the cliffs beyond the rhododendrons, most of which I would have had no chance of finding if I’d been on my own, almost to the very top of the headland.   I’m always impressed by how good the views are from up there, and today was no exception.   The view back from Howth over the tombolo neck of land connecting it to Sutton, was particularly impressive.

After a brief stop for lunch (we didn’t pause for long as it was so chilly), we followed the paths in a roughly anticlockwise loop round the summit, before diving back down again to regroup by the DART station in Howth.   It was an excellent day out – and once again I think I finished more tired by the talking than by the walking.   So after a brief wait, we caught the train and then reversed the bus ride back up the coast, and were in the flat again by 5:30.  Now it’s time to put feet up, and for Val to gird her loins heroically ready to go back to work tomorrow morning.   More power to her elbow!


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

We’ve been to Howth several times but to my embarrassment I never knew there was a castle there.   It was originally built around 1180 but the current stone structure dates from about 1300.   It was “restyled” by Edwin Lutyens in 1911 who presumably added the hideous pebbledashing which is now falling off.   It wasn’t one of his finest creations.   It was in the St Lawrence (Earl of Howth) family until 2018 when it was sold to an investment company which plans to turn the area into a luxury resort.   The St Lawrences also owned Ireland’s Eye and sold it to the same company.   I sincerely hope it’s not going to get the luxury treatment too Part of the older castle, now in ruins, and which presumably didn’t get the Lutyens upgrade
Behind the castle, and part of the same demesne, is the Deer Park hotel, a golf course, and some magnificent rhododendrons.    They must have been planted in the demesne at the time of the Lutyens intervention and are now going wild and are the size of trees.   They were looking good today but I imagine in a couple of weeks’ time, when more flowers are out, they will be really spectacular.   In the past, the castle tried to charge visitors a shilling to see them, but nowadays the spectacle is free Val being shown the sights by a Walking Club friend.   You van just see the Sutton tombolo, linking Howth to the mainland, in the background
Ireland’s Eye (as recently sold) lined up with Lambay on the horizon.   You can land on Ireland’s Eye in the summer and boats run out there regularly from Howth.   But Lambay island is off-limits The abandoned Howth Deer Park reservoir.   I can’t find out much about it so I don’t know when it was built, when it was abandoned, and whether it was for drinking water or industrial uses.   But it was evidently quite a big undertaking to construct it as it’s built on a steep slope so the retaining dam on the down-slope is pretty substantial.   I hope it doesn’t spring a leak as there’s a lot of water in it and a lot of houses below it
Unlike the Anaverna dolmen near Carnavaddy, this is not faux but is the real thing.   It’s known as Aideen’s Grave and it is just behind the castle.   The cap-stone is estimated to weigh 75 tonnes which probably explains why the whole thing has collapsed.   In fact it is possibly the second biggest dolmen in Ireland and it’s a bit of a mystery how the builders ever got the capstone on in the first place.   It was probably built about 3000BC and technically is a portal tomb.   The name derives from the more recent – but still pretty ancient – legend of Aideen who was married to Oscar, a great warrior who died in the battle of Gabhra
Interactive map

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

Total distance: 9588 m
Max elevation: 156 m
Min elevation: 5 m
Total climbing: 303 m
Total descent: -302 m
Total time: 03:55:43
Download file: Howth Deer Park corrected.gpx

You can read earlier and later days’ blogs below

Previous day’s blog
Next day’s blog
Ireland home page