Archive for the ‘ireland’ Category

A gentle 6km forest walk within easy reach of Dublin, with a ruined castle and a 9/11 memorial.

Donadea Header

The return of good weather at last has seen me looking to take slightly longer walks again – I’ve been trying hard to keep up my walking to fitness routine through the rainy days, but not blogging it, as I’m fairly sure that “walked up and down xyz road for the fifth time this week” would not exactly make for exciting reading.

I was lucky enough to have today (Monday 27th August) off work, and decided to head off in the car to somewhere I had not been before. A quick scan of the Coillte website – http://www.coillte.ie – turned up Donadea as a good possibility: not too far from Dublin, big enough to have a a 5+ km walk, and not somewhere I have been before.

Getting to Donadea in Co. Kildare is fairly easy, though the directions on the Coillte website do lack some vital details. You can reach it either by taking the R407 south from the Kilcock junction of the M4, or the R407 north from the centre of Naas.

Coillte would give you the impression that the forest park is actually on this road, but it is 3 or 4 km west of it, reached via a righthand turn (if coming from the M4) or lefthand (from Naas) – just look out for the brown tourist sign marking the turnoff, and follow that. The park will eventually be on your left.

Entry fee is €4 per car, payable in exact money only, to a mechanised barrier, which only accepts €1 or €2 coins. Once inside the park there is ample car parking and also a shop and toilets (which we will come to later).

At the bottom of the car park there is a good map of the park, on which our walk is clearly marked in blue.

Donadea map

(click on any small image to see fullsize version – this one is particularly useful, as it’s a photo of the map!)

There are various walks possible in the park, my choice being the blue, or “Aylmer” walk, which is the longest, circling most of the forest. This can be walked in either direction, but I chose, and would reccomend, clockwise, as it saves the lake, the tea shop and the ruined castle for the end rather than having them near the beginning.

To do the walk in a clockwise direction, head back from the carpark towards the entry road, and the walk is just beyond the end of the car park, on your right if the car park is behind you, and very clearly signed.


From here the walk proceeds to the east, along a gravel surfaced pathway. After about 500m you will reach a T and turn to the right – this and all major junctions are clearly signposted for all the different walks. Just keep following the blue signs.


Walking now along the eastern side of the forest, the route passes through a large area of mostly pine trees, and being the longer walk, is less popular, and for the most part deserted.


The planting, as usual with pine forests, is very dense, with occasional larger and smaller firebreaks, pathways and ditches leading off on either side.

One narrow firebreak leading between trees was almost tunnel-like, and very dark, and I couldn’t resist venturing some way down it in order to try getting shots at different exposure levels to see how the patterns of light and shade looked in picture.

Light & Shade

Re-emerging suddenly from this hidden pathway onto the main track I did rather startle two young walkers who must have thought themselves alone on this seemingly empty track, and they looked anxiously at each other as I appeared in front of them, busy tucking my shirt in from where it had come out as I crouched down to get the best camera angles. They looked quite relieved when I purposefully waddled off in the other direction!

The walk around the eastern and southern sides of the forest is peaceful and lovely, and here and there are dotted benches for the weary. The circular nature of the trail also means that to cut the walk short, you simply have to take one of the intersecting paths to the right, though I’d reccomend the full 5.7km if you are up for it.

Gradually the end of the southern boundary is reached, and the pathway turns north, now leading through mostly mixed native woodland.


This part is mostly uphill, though fairly gentle. A little while after passing a turning labelled “nature walk” to the right, theblue trail itself turns to the right, and heads through a plantation of ash towards the forest’s 9/11 memorial site.

The memorial, standing in the middle of peaceful forest, is both well designed and also very peaceful.

Two stone pillars are placed in the size and positioning of the Twin Towers, and are inscribed with the names and ranks of the firefighters, police, and port officials who died in the rescue attempt, while nearby benches are dedicated to the passengers on the hijacked planes.


911b closeup

From here the pathway curves back to head towards the centre of the forest, where the lake and tearooms are, though before reaching them it passes one side of the ruins of an old castle.


Very shortly beyond the castle, the lake is reached, and this marks the end of the walk, the car-park being reached by a main avenue leading past the tea rooms and the from of the ruined castle.



The entire walk took me about an hour and a half, though this was with frequent stops for photographs, and a few side trips (and the odd scaring of other walkers!). A fitter walker could easily do it in an hour.

I’ll be putting this up on the “Walks by Car” section in due course.

More soon, if the weather holds, if not, its back towalking up and down xyz road in the rain.

Fat Steve


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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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Fat Steve Learns

If you’re reading this while it is the only post on this blog, apologies. You’ve caught me while I’m still trying to get everything set up and photos and other information transferred across.

What I’m aiming to do here is to build up a library of walks that can be followed in the mountains, countryside and occasionally urban areas around Dublin, some accessible by public transport, others which will include directions by car. These, as I get them complete, with required info and photos will form pages that can be read or printed as a guide to each walk, complete with interesting stuff that can be seen on the way.

The blog part will cover my putting together of all of this, doing the walks, trying to find various items of interest, getting the photos, and occasionally failing and having to try again.

I already have some complete walks accessible by public transport which I used to host on another site, and I’ll put these up and update them as neccessary, as well as trying out new ones.

There is a book, “The Neighbourhood of Dublin” written back in 1910, which is scanned online at http://www.chaptersofdublin.com which contains fascinating details of things which could be seen in walks around the area nearly 100 years ago, and in some expeditions I will be trying to retrace the routes used, and see how many of the old buildings or pieces of history can still be found, or are now gone or inaccessible.

I’ll also be looking at other old texts to try to find as many things as possible to discover on walks, as well as redoing my own favourite walks and climbs from childhood.

The background to this is that Fat Steve is, well, fat, and needs to start getting exercise and get fit otherwise he’ll be six foot under Steve.

20 or 30 years ago I cycled all over Dublin and regularly climbed the hills, these days I can barely waddle around the supermarket.

It’s time to change this, to get active, to go on a voyage of discovery, and turn Fat Steve into Fit Steve.

And the blog is the best way I can think of to keep myself constantly shamed into not stopping.

Fat Steve, May 2007

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