With the 5km Covid travel restrictions now removed, Dubliners are free to move about and explore the county. Here’s a selection, from our archives, of five of the most popular walks on the southside.
Tibradden Woods, or the Pine Forest as it is also known, has been a popular walking destination with generations of Dublin families. Taking roughly two hours, the 2.4km linear Tibradden Mountain Trail (so just under 5km out and back) is the perfect hike for energetic kids and teens. The route follows red waymarkers and starts at the back of the car park.
It zigzags up the hill into the forest which is home to mature Scots pine, European and Japanese larch, Sitka spruce, oak and beech. The pines date to 1910 so are lovely and tall. Keep a lookout for deer while you travel through this dusky part.
After that you’ll leave the forest and start hiking up a more challenging section, climbing open mountain on a stony trail to reach the top of Tibradden. Just north of the summit, you’ll find a substantial stone cairn. One theory is that the cairn is the burial place of Bródáin, who gave his name to the mountain. When the site was excavated back in 1849, a stone-lined cist with a pottery urn containing cremated remains was found. It’s now in the National Museum of Ireland.
The cairn is the perfect and sheltered spot for a picnic while you soak up the views right across Dublin Bay to Howth. When you’re fully fuelled up on sandwiches and tea, simply follow the same route back to the car park.
Distance: 2.4km one way.
Time: 2 hours.
Best for: Walkers and families.
Terrain: Trail but rough underfoot at times.
Waymarked: Yes. Follow the red markers.
Gear: Good hiking/trail shoes or boots, rain gear, snacks.
Map: None needed, but you can download a PDF map from www.coillte.ie
Getting there and parking: Take the exit at junction 12 on the M50. Follow the R113 towards Ballyboden. At the 3rd roundabout turn right onto the R116 signposted for Glencullen. Follow the R116 for about 4.5km until the R116 turns sharp left, heading for Glencullen. The Tibradden Woods car park is on your left, about 200m after the sharp left.
Dogs allowed: Yes, on a lead.
At the foot of the Dublin Mountains near Rathfarnham, Massy's Estate is a great place to bring the kids for a walk. Once a grand estate dating to the early 1800s, it had a huge stately mansion, Killakee House. Although the house is gone, what will appeal to young adventurers is the collection of ruins on the property, which include an old walled garden, stone bridges and an ice house.
The estate is also home to gorgeous specimen trees, thanks to the original owners and the former Director of Forestry in Ireland Otto Reinard, who planted a collection of trees here in the late 1930s when the State took over the property. The trees comprise a variety of American, European and Asian species, including cedars, limes and giant sequoia. These days, the forest provides a habitat for badgers, red squirrels, foxes, deer and lots of birds.
The short-but-sweet and easy 1.5km Nature Trail walk (orange way markers) follows a clockwise loop and takes you through the lovely aging forest and the old walled garden. It also crosses the lively Owerdoher River several times before you finish along the forest road.
If you’d like to learn more about the estate, get your hands on the book ‘If Those Trees Could Speak’ by Frank Tracy. It details the estate’s collapse due to the lavish lifestyle of the sixth Baron Massy. Apparently he used to host extravagant parties at the house and during his shooting expeditions, he would lay tables with fine dishes and glassware out amongst the trees.
For a longer, but still easy, walking route, choose the 6km Riverside Trail (white markers).
Or if you’re looking for a more challenging (and spooky) hike, why not start from across the road and climb to the Hell Fire Club. Although only 4km in length, the Montpelier Loop includes a steep ascent of Montpelier Hill which will definitely exercise your lungs!
The route should also exercise your imagination as it brings you to the ruins of what is known as the Hell Fire Club. Built in the 1720s, this one-time hunting lodge is rumoured to be the place where a group of rich young men enjoyed drunken orgies and made human sacrifices to the devil. Many people still claim that this spot is haunted. You’ll have to judge for yourself when you visit.
Distance: Nature Trail – 1.5km; Riverside Trail – 6km; Montpelier Loop (Hell Fire Club) – 4km.
Time: Nature Trail – 45 minutes; Riverside Trail – 2 hours; Montpelier Loop – 1.5 hours.
Best for: Massy’s – people who love trees; Montpelier Loop – people who like to be spooked!
Difficulty: Nature Trail & Riverside Trail – easy; Montpelier Loop – moderate.
Terrain: Trail, but can be mucky at times.
Waymarked: Yes. Nature Trail – orange markers; Riverside Trail – white markers; Montpelier Loop – blue markers.
Gear: Good hiking/trail shoes or boots.
Map: Download PDF maps at www.dublinmountains.ie
Getting there and parking: South of Rathfarnham, take the R115 road to Kilakee and park in the Hell Fire car park.
Dogs allowed: Yes, on a lead.
Offering spectacular views across Dublin Bay, Bray Head and the Wicklow Mountains, this is one of Dublin’s most popular climbs. Ticknock is roughly 3km south west of Sandyford and offers a network of mountain and forest walks just a stone’s throw from the city centre. There is a tarmac road leading all the way to the top which is great for buggies. Or, if your kids are big enough, you can take them on an adventure through the trees.
A favourite route here is the 5.5km Fairy Castle Loop. You’ll follow the green waymarkers which will take you up to the top of Fairy Castle, down to Three Rock and back to where you began via the dusky pines of Ticknock Woods.
Kids will love exploring The Fairy Castle cairn. This pyramid of rocks marks a passage tomb below the surface and is one of many Neolithic or Bronze age tombs dotted around the area.
When you reach Three Rock Mountain’s three large rocks, they make the perfect spot to admire the expansive views or have a picnic.
The walk also takes in the old rifle range which was used from the 1800s up to the 1970s. Apparently you can still find old casings and spent rounds so that could keep the kids entertained too. This hike is suitable for everyone with a moderate level of fitness, from families to dog walkers and trail runners.
When you’ve finished your walk, you can also head over to watch some of the mountain bikers in action as there are 8km of single-track trails here. Or if you want to brush up on your navigation skills, Ticknock also offers three permanent orienteering courses – beginner (1.6km), intermediate (3.2km) and advanced (6km).
Time: 1hr 45mins.
Best for: Families, trail runners or dog walkers.
Terrain: Surfaced road and uneven trail, potentially boggy at times.
Waymarked: Yes. Follow the green arrows.
Gear: Good hiking shoes or boots, rain gear, map and compass.
Map: OSi Discovery Series 50 or download the map from Coillte.ie.
Getting there and parking: From the M50 northbound, take exit 14 and take the immediate left up to the traffic lights. Turn right and continue through Lamb’s Cross and past Lamb Doyle’s. Just before you pass over the M50 again, take the left-hand turn onto Ticknock Road. Ticknock car park is on this road. From the M50 Southbound, take exit 13, followed by the first exit at the round about towards Marlay Park. At Balinteer GAA club take a sharp left turn. At Taylor’s Grange take the left signposted Enniskerry. Just after this road runs over the M50 there’s a right turn. This is Ticknock Road where you’ll find Ticknock car park.
Dogs allowed: Yes.
You don’t always have to leave the city to get a nice walk in as Dublin is blessed with pockets of wilderness that are the perfect for getting out and about.
The River Dodder, which flows from Kippure in the Wicklow Mountains through south Dublin before it enters the Liffey at Ringsend, is a brilliant example of this. We’ve focussed on the 5km section that runs from Bushy Park in Terenure to Clonskeagh as it’s almost traffic-free. You will occasionally have to cross roads.
The Dodder is something of a wildlife corridor so it’s a proper escape. Ducks, swans and herons are regularly seen and if you’re really lucky you might see an otter or the blue flash of a kingfisher flying by. If you’re not beady-eyed enough to spot living breathing wildlife, you can still enjoy the rhino sculpture standing bang in the middle of the river near the Dropping Well pub in Milltown.
This route brings you through Bushy Park right at the start and then Orwell Park and Darty Park too. The river flows alongside as you pass weirs and small rapids, and through an often lush landscape of weeping willows dipping into the water.
Of course, the route is not without reminders that you are in a city and you’ll see plenty of evidence of old mills and industrialisation too. The reason for these mills is probably best explained by the Irish name for the Dodder which is ‘dothra’, meaning turbulent. Take a look at the river after heavy rain and you’ll see why.
The bonus of this urban aspect of course is that you’ll never be far from civilisation and a nice cup of coffee! This route is extremely buggy and bike friendly once you’ve crossed the stepping stones near the start in Bush. If you want to double the length of this route, you can just turn back to where you started which saves on transport logistics.
Distance: Just under 5km.
Time: 1 hour.
Waymarked: No, but the path is easy to find.
Gear: Runners or walking shoes.
Map: None. Because the route follows the river, it’s almost impossible to get lost.
Getting there and parking: Bushy Park is on Templeogue Road in Terenure. There is plenty of on-street parking around Bushy Park. Some of this is pay and display so make sure you’ve checked before you head off.
Dogs allowed: Yes, on a lead.
The words lead mines and a nickname of ‘Death Valley’ might not seem the most enticing for a family walk but we promise you the Lead Mines Way is actually a far nicer foray than its moniker suggests.
This walk in the hills between Kilternan and Shankill follows a 2km anti-clockwise route around the Coillte forest at Carrickgollogan. It takes about 45 minutes to cover. But you will easily be able to while away plenty more time and burn off a few more calories if you add in the optional detours of a visit to the Lead Mines Chimney and up to the top of Carrickgollogan Hill.
Both are worth the effort. Carrickgollogan Hill offers one of the best views of south Dublin and north Wicklow, including the eastern side of the Scalp, Three Rock Mountains and beyond to Djouce and Duff Hill.
From the Lead Mines Chimney, you’ll be able to ogle Dublin City, Dublin Bay and the coast taking in Bray, Howth, Dalkey and Killiney. You’ll also be able to ponder the origins of this chimney, with its external spiral staircase.
Mining for silver and lead first began here in the early 1800s and the famous chimney dates to 1836. In fact, the chimney is the exit point of a flue that stretched just over 2km underground to the smelting works at Ballycorus in the valley below. Apparently lead deposits were scraped out of the flue by hand, leading to many workers dying of lead poisoning, which is why the name Death Valley came about.
The works at Ballycorus finally closed in the 1920s and so the area gradually reverted to nature, providing us with great outdoor amenity area so close to the city.
Time: 45 minutes.
Difficulty: Easy (but if you add the climb to the top of Carrickgollogan Hill, this section is quite steep).
Best for: Those looking for a quick jaunt.
Waymarked: Yes. Follow the orange route.
Terrain: Trail, uneven at times.
Gear: Hiking shoes or boots.
Map: OSi Discovery Series 50 or better still, download the simple PDF map at dublinmountains.ie.
Getting there and parking: From Dublin, take the R117 south from Dundrum. Soon after Kilternan, take a left onto Barnaslingan Lane and the car park is on the left at the top of the hill (opposite the entrance to the car park at Barnaslingan wood).
Dogs allowed: Yes, on a lead.