Cliff Walk Reconnaissance

Some places just bite you and you`ve got to go back.


I had spied the cliff walk from Tower Beach carpark on my forays around Portrane and Donabate and was keen to explore a possible new running route. But, as rain was plummeting down, I baulked, fearing a toss from a slippery cliff path into a foaming Irish Sea.

Yesterday evening was sunny and almost warm, thankfully, so I grabbed my camera and took my chance. Yes, I am still in light exercise mode but this outing could at least serve as reconnaissance of a new running route.

Pink Fringed Cliff path

Lambay Island


Lambay Island rears up on the horizon. The Vikings arrived and overwhelmed the island, and its monastic settlement in 795 AD.  I could almost imagine them clamouring up the cliffs at Portrane, wielded whatever weapons they had, helmets glinting in the sunlight.

I am quite sure they didn’t care much for the seapinks, fringing the entire route with their prettiness.


Sea Cabbage - Copy

This is a very safe walk/run the gravelled pathway being wide and well in from the cliff face. I encountered four runners in all: three women having a grand chat as the clipped along the trail, and a solo runner.



Indeed, as it was such a glorious evening, I was surprised I hadn’t met more people delighting in this little piece of heaven. Howth is always overrun with folk, but Portrane is a gentler, even prettier alternative, and, it seems, one of the many little treasures the locals would rather keep for themselves.

Cliff Walk


This would be a wonderful trail for botanists too.

Soldiers raised their heads skyward.


…wild Irish roses flourished…

My Wild Irish Rose

…and bird’s  foot trefoil did their bird’s foot thing, creeping along the stone wall or peeking up among the seacabbage on the grassy cliffedge.




The stone wall itself, marked the boundary to the original Evans’ demesne, latterly Portrane psychiatric hospital. The hospital was built in 1896 at a time when these places were called lunatic asylums.

Portrane Hospital


The towers on the grounds of the psychiatric hospital which I had noted too in last week’s venture to this area.



Certainly the location would be balm for the tortured soul. I hope this cliff walk formed part of the therapeutic process there.

How many beaches does Portrane and Donabate lay claim to? This walk was dotted with coves for swimming and rocky outcrops for fishing. And the views encompassed Howth Head and further south, to the Sugarloaf Mountain in Wicklow.

Rocks Sugarloaf - Copy

Sugarloaf Mountain barely visible in mid-horizon

More flowers, and yet another beach. The cliff path is full of glories.

another beach2

Walking of course, is a poor relation to running. But is there anything worse than standing? For hours and hours? Each to their own, but I wouldn’t have the patience to hack fishing. Still, this man seemed to be enjoying himself.  I don’t know if the fishing is good here but the location is certainly heavenly.


And the walk ended on, yet another beach at yet another Martello Tower. Yes, this is Balcarrick Tower which I’d encoutered before.


This route has many possibilities then for a runner, or, indeed, a walker. At 2.5km, a return trek from Tower Bay Beach would be a very pleasant three miles/five kilometres. But there are lots of other alternatives worth exploring which would encompass the cliff path on a longer circuit running on from back into Donabate and back into Portrane to Tower Bay Beach.

Perfect for a long, slow leisurely trot with lots to take in along the way. Of course, I can’t be sure, unless I try it.

And that’s just all the excuse I need to go back.





15 thoughts on “Cliff Walk Reconnaissance

  1. Delightful ! – though I’m no walker (any more), let alone jogger or runner, this post is of great appeal ! Is Portrane a … suburb of Dublin ? – and sorry if that’s an offensive question …

  2. That really is a nice spot RH but now you’ve told the whole world about it 😦 Great photos, you have a good eye. My ‘secret’ is a bay in west Cork which I visited once, probably 50 years ago as a child. I loved its wildness and the height of the surf that day. Yet I’ve never once since heard it spoken about, written about. It’s not in guide books. It seems to be invisible. I didn’t imagine it though and I’m going back there one day.

    • You’re right, of course, I’ve definitely blown a secret with this post. Fortunately, though, I don’t have too many readers. I hope you find your bay. It would at least be interesting to see how your perspective has changed as an adult-and you possibly will enjoy it even more.

    • Running and taking photos help me realise that, more than ever Paige, though, of course, that would be true in most parts of the world, I imagine. If the weather and climate is accommodating, of course.

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