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Archive for June, 2007

With open vistas in every direction, and a cool breeze on even the hottest day, the Great South Wall is the hidden gem of Dublin Bay.

NOTE: Full details and directions for this walk can be found in our Walks by Car section. A version for bus access and including Irishtown Nature Reserve will be produced shortly.

Fat Steve had a fairly good weekend just gone, though with a little less opportunity for walking than might have been hoped. It started off with a trip up the mountains with some work colleagues, including JS the American who was amazed to see the Irish cotton fields (well, OK, peat-bogs with cotton plants growing on them) and AC the Comedy German, who wanted to see the German Cemetary at Glencree. I’m sure AC plays up to his national stereotypes, but the questions “what is the purpose of this plant with purple flowers?” (heather) and “Why is it planted randomly all over the hillsides?” was apparently asked in all seriousness.

There wasn’t much chance for walking, and I was busy all weekend so after finishing work at 9pm on the hot sticky Sunday evening, I opted for one of my favourite treats, a cooling walk out along the hidden gem that is Dublin’s Great South Wall.

Many people have never heard of it, others wouldn’t know exactly how to get to it, but those that do, swear by it. Built in the late 1700s it is in effect a massive pier that stretches more than 2km out into the middle of the bay from a starting point near the Pigeon House.

On hot summer evenings it is just the thing – no matter how still the air, there is always a gentle cooling sea breeze. The views of the city and mountains are stunning – you can see the whole of the bay and up the Liffey, quite a unique viewpoint.

Dublin Bay South

Click on any thumbnail to see fullsize image

It’s an easy walk, can be taken at any pace, and at Fat Steve Speed takes around 35 minutes in each direction, from the car parking area to the tip with the lighthouse.

There are always some people walking the wall, more so in summer, and this Sunday there were quite a few enjoying the late evening. A large party of Polish fishermen were busy piling up stacks of what looked to me like Sea Trout, whatever they were, the time was right for catching, as they were leapingout of the water all the way along the wall.

Walking the wall, there is always lots of activity to see, with arriving and departing shipping, in this case the Norfolk Line and the P&O as well as some freighters.

Great South Wall sunset

The sunset is superb too, if you time it right, and arriving back at the car as it was getting later, I was surprised to see a fox, as I would have thought this area too remote from the city and food sources.

The drive to and from the wall, along Pigeon House Road is very atmospheric, all post industrial with decaying buildings, scrapyards and scrubland. Beside the modern Pigeon House complex itself you will see not only the red-bricked former generating house, now in disrepair, but also a much older military building, used as offices by the ESB.

One day soon, much of the abandoned landscape will be swept away by a gleaming new city quarter of glass, but the great wall, which has stood for hundreds of years, will remain.

Fat Steve

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Two acheivments in the last 24 hours – this evening I’ve created the “Walks by Bus/Rail” page, and the first two of many subpages listing and giving directions for walks. These will be added to gradually to build up a library of walks, with directions on how to get to and from, starting point, directions, general info and cautions, and how to get back to Dublin afterwards. A “walks by car” section will follow.

And yesterday I took a good long walk that I’ve been thinking about for ages – all the way from Kilcock to Maynooth along the Royal Canal, about 7km of blissful rural tranquility. Well, six if you count the first stretch by the main road.

Bus route 66

On the 66 approaching Kilcock – click on any picture for fullsize version

Dublin Bus route 66 has occasional (and infrequent) extensions to Kilcock, and this was my outward travel, hence the cheesy post title.

Weighed down with rather too much in the way of coat, camera, bottled water – I really must get a rucksack – I headed off along the canal, which runs alongside the road for a while, before going its own way through the countryside.

Canal walk

Royal Canal, Co. Kildare

It was pretty hot, so I took my time ambling along at FSS (Fat Steve Speed) the entire walk taking just under two hours, but you could probably do it a lot quicker if you didn’t waddle breathlessly along the canal bank taking occasional breaks under shady trees as I did!

I’m pleased with myself though, as when I was a little more than halfway, I passed a lock with a short laneway leading to a nearby road on which a bus would shortly be passing, and despite the heat I didn’t even think of cutting the walk short and taking the convienient bus.

Well, maybe a little bit, but I resisted, and trudged on gamely, and enjoyed it too!

Bridge detail

 Various locks and barges on the way were of interest, and one bridge looked to be original to the construction of the canal, complete with details of the engineers.

Passing St Patricks College the tall trees of the grounds behind the high wall looked very inviting – why is it that walled in places seem so tempting?

St. Patricks College, Maynooth (wall)

I made it to Maynooth exactly in time for a 67A home, and a well earned shower and smugness.

I’m getting to like this walking lark.

I’ve written up the walk complete with lots of photos and directions (and minus the blog waffling) so check it out if you want to see more, or do this walk yourself.

Fat Steve

 

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A visit to a 150 year old tower on a hilltop with a scary-looking outside staircase, visible in many parts of south-east Dublin.

For my second expedition, I picked something much more manageable, and took my American friend JS along with me. I will write this up as a “walk page” with directions shortly.

Carrickgollogan is a medium-sized hill in south county Dublin, but one whose name would be unknown to the majority of people, even though they would have a knowledge of it as part of the landscape in their area as “the hill with the tower on it”. The tower can be seen over quite a wide area, from Killiney and the Bray Road over to Sandyford and Kiltiernan.

The hill is located between the Enniskerry and Bray roads, a little south of Glenamuck, and can be easily accessed from Ballycorus Road (turn left off Enniskerry Road just after Kiltiernan).

Even from quite a distance, the spiral staircase on the outside of the tower can be seen, though it is only when you get closer that you observe that it is not complete.

Tower on Carrickgologan hilltop

Tower with staircase – click to view fullsize on this and all pictures

The reason for the stairs being on the outside is that this is in fact a chimney rather than a tower as such, and the inside would back in the days of its use have been full of choking noxious fumes. The structure was built on top of the hill, and at the end of a flue nearly a mile long, which conducted the smokes and fumes from a lead works in the valley below up to the hilltop, where they were discharged at a height of 900 feet, thus sparing those living below from the effects of their industry.

The hill itself was once penetrated by a lead mine, but lead from other mines was also transported to Ballycorus to be smelted, and the area was a teeming centre of employment at one stage. It is now long since abandoned, and has been so for as long as I can remember, certainly when I first visited in the early 1970s it was already a matter of history. The mine is sealed and forgotten, the works gone, though some buildings remain in the valley, but the giant chimney remains, and should stand for a long time into the future, as a recognisible landmark in this corner of County Dublin.

Travelling from the Ballycorus Road, we took the side turn which is signposted “Pucks Castle” which leads to the most convienient of the several approach routes to the top of the hill. Pucks Castle itself, a ruined fortified dwelling rather than a fullsize castle, can be seen in a field on the left after about a km, but the hedges are high and it is visible just once through a gap, so blink and you’ll miss it.

The road climbs, and after the Pucks Castle golf range on the right, there is a track leading up the hillside, with just enough room to park a car or two.

Having been up here more recently, I was able to let JS know that the climb would be about 20 minutes, and that the first half is the worst.

The track is rough but walkable, with forest on the left, and a stone wall and hedge on the right, behind which is the golf range, built on such an impossible slope that you wonder how the ball does not just run away.

Chimney 2

For most of the climb, thre is no sign of anything on the hilltop, but as you near the top, the structure suddenly comes into view. The stairs can now be seen clearly, as well as the fact that several gaps mean that they cannot be climbed – one of the gaps being close to the bottom, and possibly deliberate on the part of the local authority to stop people from climbing and suffering accidents.

Stairs

 

Where the steps still exist, they are steep and unprotected, and the prospect of being able to climb them when they were all in place must have been both wonderful and terrifying at the same time. A platform at the top, similarly unprotected, would have allowed access to the top of the chimney, and must have given stunning views across Dublin.

The flue up from the mineworks below having long since been filled in, there is now an opening at the bottom of the tower, and it is possible to go inside, and look up, and out of the giant stone chimney.

Inside

The views from the hilltop, while not as extensive as those from ThreeRock, are none the less very good, and comprise most of Dublin city and bay, Killiney Hill, and to the west, the Scalp and Glencullen valleys, Two Rock and Three Rock mountains.

West

Looking west over towards Glencullen, the massive redevelopment of the Kiltiernan Sports Hotel is carving an ugly scar in the valley below, and it is to be hoped that once finished and landscaped it will fit in better. Both time I have been up here recently has been in the evening, and the view westward over the valleys and hills can give some lovely constrasts of light and shade, and rays through the mist (the picture used as the header of this blog is taken here).

view north to Dublin

Looking north across Dublin you get a good view of the eastern half of the city, with the sweep of the bay, and Howth Head in the distance.

Killiney

Looking east across the Loughlinstown valley, the sprawl of Tulley and Cherrywood can be seen, as well as Killiney Hill, with the sea behind it.

Coming back down is easy of course, and we managed to reach the car just in time to avoid a sudden squall of rain.

Compared to my last efforts, a successful conclusion!

Fat Steve

 

 

 

 

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