Friday, September 12, 2014

10th Event continued--BONUS COVERAGE: A day in Howth

Day Trip from Dublin

Tuesday, August 5th:

In my last post I mentioned that we polled many locals throughout Dublin, asking them their best suggestions for a non-driving day trip from City Center. With an overwhelming 90% of the votes, we were told that if the weather was good we should visit Howth. And so we did.

Here's a bit of "bonus coverage" from my previous entry, the 10th Event Dublin Post: photos and brief commentary about our day in the fishing village of Howth (pronounced "Hoat", rhymes-with-coat.) To get to Howth we took the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train from the City Center station which was about a mile walk from our hotel. The round trip fare costs about 7.5 Euro (about $10 in US dollars) and the journey took about 30 minutes. Easy-Peasy.

Beginning our DART ride at the Tara Street Station
along the River Liffey, less than a mile's walk from our
hotel on Cardiff Lane.

As you walk down from the train platform you'll see this
pub, a local favorite.

We checked out the menu upon our arrival but we wanted to see more
of the village before we committed to anything. Plus, it was only 10:30AM
so we weren't quite ready for food.

I thought the name was a bit odd, not to mention gory, for a restaurant so I looked it up online. Here's an excerpt taken from The Bloody Stream's official website detailing the history of their namesake:
The Bloody Stream is named in honour of The Bloody Stream over which it is built. In August 1177, during the second Norman invasion, a heavy battle took place near here between the forces of Sir Almeric Tristram (said to have been a descendent of one of the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table and whom took over command from Sir John de Courcy on the expedition’s arrival at Howth, who was unable to leave his ship) and the Danes, who were occupying Evora Bridge at that time. Inevitably the fighting produced blood, some of which found its way into the little stream that has been known as “The Bloody Stream” ever since.

To get your bearings, please see the map below. Our arrival via DART was via the tracks pictured on the upper west side of the "island", along the only strip of land that connects Howth to the mainland. Most of the commerce and activity is along the harbor in the area closest to the train station on the north end. 

Before you look through my photos I'll give you a brief overview of the course we took throughout the day, this way you'll have a sense of where we were without detailed descriptions of every photo.

We walked from the DART to the point on the west side of the harbor then back around and up to the northernmost point on the east harbor side overlooking the tiny island they call "Ireland's Eye". Then we walked sharply uphill and south to the center of town (where the convergence of roads form a triangle due south of the harbor) and stopped for lunch while we planned our hiking strategy for the day. From there we took the main road, Thormanby Rd, through the middle of Howth to the summit where we then picked up the trails and hiked the cliffs along the south and southeastern shore. Then we walked the trails amidst the 3 peaks pictured below in the middle of Howth back down towards Deer Park Hotel & Spa and Howth Castle (situated due south of the DART station back on the northwest side) and ended our day's hike with dinner on the harbor.

We discovered this AMAZING resource on our cell phone (we were able to get free Wi-Fi at our lunch restaurant),, so if you want the best details of our hike open the link and read this as you're scrolling the landmarks detailed there:

  (NOTE: If you're skipping the EveryTrail link, skip the paragraph below.)

Due to high winds we took the advice of the EveryTrail site and went from "7:Balscadden Bay" to "11: The Great Bailey" along Thormanby Road rather than tackle the steep and rough terrain along the eastern shore cliffs. From "12:Summit Junction" (hidden behind the 11 marker on the interactive map on the right side of the EveryTrail page) we hiked to and around "13:Cliff Walk South, 14:Lion's Head and 15: Doldrum Bay". We skipped "16:Drumleck Beach" because the terrain was too steep for me with my brace but also because the wind was whipping on this side of Howth. You'll note from my photos that one slip and you're dead on the rocks hundreds of feet down. For reference, the highest point is the Ben Of Howth at 561ft which is a hair less than a mile as the crow flies from the harbor at sea level! From the cliffs we cut back from 15:Doldrum Bay to 19:Shielmartin Hill then all the way through 19-27 (check the link for details of each of these sights) until we were finally back at the harbor.
Photo Tour 
(I've selected a very modest few of the total shots I took all day just to give you a sense of things...after all, I need to leave you with something to discover for yourself!)

Residences along the harbor.

Steve and Kristen O'Connell, you have to make this a stop on your next Dublin tour!

East side of the harbor looking SSE.

Southeastern-most point of the harbor looking due north.

View of the harbor from the east side.

View of Ireland's Eye from the northeastern-most tip of the harbor.
Here's an informative link about Ireland's Eye for those of you who may be interested:'s_Eye

High tide?

Leaving the harbor, walking due south (and due UP!) towards the summit.

Howth Parish, Church of the Assumption.

Rear view of Howth Parish.

Out of all the restaurants we researched, this is where we chose to have lunch. What a
great decision!

Here's the official link to The House:

A charming and unassuming restaurant, The House comes highly recommended on Trip
Advisor. From my personal experience here, there isn't one single thing I would change
about this place to improve was perfect.

We sat at a table in the very back of the restaurant, my view here is facing the door
and Main Street.

This is the view out the back window, directly behind my seat. It's a cute outdoor "patio", covered in
"Irish Sea-weatherproof" astroturf, with walls to block the wind.

Apparently we aren't the only ones who love The House.

Today's menu. Jim got the Sloppy Joe sandwich but I ordered off the specials board.

What is it about my husband that he MUST order a sandwich bigger than his head?

Jim insisted that I switch the perspective to make my meal look huge while his (scooched all the way back
to the far edge of the table) looks puny. For the record, I ordered a bowl of Carrot Ginger soup with a
half grilled cheese & tomato sandwich and a side of rocket salad. DELISH!!!!

Having fortified ourselves for the day's hike ahead we made our way through the neighborhoods up to the top of Thormanby Road. I found the mix of old and modern architecture quite fascinating along the way:

From the top of the main road we began our day of hiking the trails in earnest. It will be difficult to get real perspective from my photos, but please believe me when I tell you that some of the most challenging trails were treacherous, especially given the (invisible) high winds on this day. The drops and climbs--and barrier-free cliffs--were frightening at times, and for most of our adventure I had my phone/camera tucked safely inside my windbreaker and both hands out to steady myself.

There were spots along the trails of Howth where you were given clear directions on how
to avoid the more dangerous routes. The beautiful thing about this peninsula is that there are
walks for every level of ability, including a few routes that were wheelchair accessible...
though to be honest I still think you'd have to be pretty strong to navigate even the most
athletic-style of wheelchair. I guess I'd have to see it to believe it.

I'm making my way slowly down this "moderate" level path while Jim is ahead of me
on the way to Lion's Head.

A few of the climbs had this type of stepping stone to assist in a safer descent.

Here's a look at the "easy" level path below the summit. This particular route only
goes so far as the edge in the background, just to provide a good view of the cliffs
without having to hike down.

This fence line marks the backyard boundary of one of the beautiful homes
at the base of the summit.

View of a driveway from one of the side roads near the base of the summit. The
background shows a glimpse of the Irish Sea facing due east toward Wales.

Another "easy" level trail once we've descended from the 3 peaks in the center of Howth.

At this point it feels like we've reached flatland again, but you'll notice that Howth Parish is still far below us, and the
harbor even farther down than that.

St. Mary's Church of Ireland, which sits just above sea level due south of the DART station.
We finally made it back down from our wonderful hiking adventures. 

Entrance to St. Mary's

This is actually south of St. Mary's and north of the hills we
hiked around the summit. The golf course is tucked in between
the castle and the Rhododendron Gardens. 

Entrance to the Castle grounds.

The Castle

And finally, back to the harbor where I am dead-set on getting some fresh seafood in my belly!

We missed the sunset but also missed this rain while we were hiking on the south side. Looks like all the
fishermen and boaters are calling it a day as well.

This is the view from the east side of the harbor looking back across towards the restaurants on the west side.
Our dinner spot, the Oarhouse, is at the far right in this photo.

We made it just in time (10 minutes to spare!) for the "Early Bird" dinner specials, which meant 2 courses for the price of one. Here's a look at the selections for this particular evening:

Bob Jackson, this is for you! We decided we had to have the fresh grilled sardines in your honor--and they were every bit as tasty as yours. The upside of eating these here? Mom wouldn't have to banish you from the property. :-)

I can't begin to describe how much I adored this "bowl of love". The evening had turned downright chilly,
something we were actually savoring as we contemplated our departure to hot & humid NC in the morning, but
it called for a warm crock of soup. I ordered the "traditional pea soup" which means it's actually the vegetarian
version. It was delicious and warmed me from "tip to toenails" as my Grandma used to say.

Jim ordered Tiger Prawns in a spicy buffalo sauce.

Our meal at the Oar House was wonderful, a perfect way to end our day in Howth--or so we thought. As it turned out we had about 30 minutes before the next DART back to Dublin so went below the station to the Bloody Stream and capped off our night with an Irish Coffee. My phone battery finally gave out on me after our long day in Howth so I don't have personal photos of the cozy little pub but I did find these shots of the Bloody Stream on the web. The lighting isn't nearly as bright as it appears in the first photo but you'll get the idea. There's a crackling fire in the back room, perfect on such a damp and cold night, and there are taper-style candles stuck in wine bottles at every table, on the bar and even behind the bar:

Wednesday, August 6th:

Alas, today is the day we have to leave Ireland. I must say that we ended it right with our day and evening in Howth...thank you to Marta, Eddie and all the other Dubliners who gave us the recommendation to do so.

The only thing that made the thought of leaving Ireland palatable is the First Class Envoy seats awaiting us on our flights home!

(I'm skipping the horrid process of being corralled with the rest of the "sheeple" going through the 2 hours of customs/immigration/security clearance and getting right to the good part...)

Thank you, USAirways Upgrade Fairy for the free perk!

I love it when I need a manual to operate my airplane seat!

My carry-on stowed (not so neatly) under the EXTRA seat in front of me. My personal
TV is folded neatly away just above it.

Jim's not digging this at all, is he?

We're approaching the US just as the sun is setting. I must say, the flight from Dublin to
Philadelphia was the smoothest, best flight I've had to date. As much as I will miss Dublin
I will confess that it's good to be back after my 4 days in NJ and 6 in Ireland. One
more flight and I'm back home in NC!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful scenery. LOVE the upgrade on the way back.

    And by the looks of that plate, let's all be glad Jim doesn't have a bigger head! haha!