You could, if you chose, walk all the way around Ireland’s coastline, or near enough. There’s six thousand kilometres of it, or four thousand miles. That’s a long way from Clare to here and back, by the circuitous route. But one step at a time. We’ve just explored South Dublin’s Rocky Shore, from Old Dun Laoghaire to Shankill Beach. Just north of Bray, Wicklow’s coast begins. Sitting in the Harbour Bar, the boats jingling in a stiff Winter’s easterly, it was a good time to ponder continuing our coastal adventure.
Wicklow, the Garden County, is most renowned as a mountainous region. The Wicklow Mountains cover most of the county and make for the largest continuous upland region in Ireland, even spilling into neighbouring counties, Dublin to the north and Carlow to the south. It is a rugged region, wild and beautiful despite its proximity to the Dublin metropolis. However, the Wicklow range is inland, separated from the sea by a narrow coastal plain. Only at Bray is there a high headland with sea cliffs. After that, the coastal route is mostly along the beach, but for a short break at Wicklow Head.
So, over the next few weeks, I we’ll travel together from the ancient town of Bray to the modern town of Greystones, on down through the ‘Southern Pale’ of Kilcoole and Newcastle to Viking Wicklow Town, then via Brittas Bay to Arklow, another Norse settlement until we reach the Wexford border. As usual, there will be plenty of detours, mingling seascapes with townscapes, meeting such figures as Saint Patrick, James Joyce and Hozier, exploring the history and geography along the coast of Ireland’s most beautiful county, its newest, and still perhaps one of its wildest. There’ll be glasses raised and songs sung. Who knows where it will all lead.
Well, okay, Arklow I suppose. But the path will meander as interst, and refreshments, dictate. The distance from Bray to Arklow, along the coast is about 60km, 40 miles or so, and would take about twelve hours in total. We’ll see. We will, like Alice, begin at the beginning. Standing in Bray’s harbour, the swans and boats beside us, the Dargle River and Dublin behind us, and before us a path along the coast beginning with the Promenade along the Bray sea wall. To be continued …