Ten wild races in Dublin – combine exercise and nature in a locked capital
For those who want to stay in shape as fall arrives, there is nothing better than running. But if you are bored with the same roads and streets, here are 10 places where you should be able to enjoy personal space and abundant nature, all while respecting social distancing guidelines.
Take your rhythm and take in the views and you will feel even better afterwards.
This provides options for runners and walkers. One option is to bring the Dart to Howth and start your run right in the heart of the village. A 7 km loop route takes you along the promenade, past the east pier and along the Balscadden road to reach a cliff path. On higher ground there will be views of Balscadden Bay, Ireland’s Eye and Lambay. Continue along a path by a stone wall on your left, cross a parking lot to follow the path at the top of the cliff. On level ground, you can admire the view of Baily Lighthouse. Just before the summit parking lot, turn right to follow the green arrows along a wide path along the top of a low ridge back down via the upper cliff road back down to the village.
If you drive, you can start and end a 7k race from the summit parking lot at the eastern end of the peninsula. Here you can enjoy spectacular 360 degree views. Follow the red arrows along a coastal path to enjoy a wilder route through trees, ferns, gorse and heather.
Portmarnock to Malahide
If you are happier running mostly on flat terrain, the coastal road from Portmarnock to Malahide is a good option. You can start at Dart station in Malahide or Portmarnock and choose to do a 4km run or follow in your footsteps to complete an 8km run. If you are starting from Portmarnock Dart station, head towards Golf Links Road to reach a public car park. Just before the parking lot, turn left along a grassy path through Velvet Strand, veering north along the beach for about 2 miles. From there, follow a coastal path keeping the sea on your right before reaching the village itself.
Donate to Portrane
The hammerhead-shaped peninsula of Donabate lies between the Rogerstown Estuary to the north and the Malahide Estuary to the south. The Donabate to Portrane coastal road is popular with walkers, so if you want to complete the 6.5 km loop it is best done during off-peak hours. Starting from the Martello Tower closer to Donabate, the route follows a well-defined sandy path along the coast to the Martello Tower in Portrane. Consider a little dip in the sea if it’s a sunny day and take in the views of Lambay before retracing your steps to complete the 6.5 km loop.
North Bull Island
Accessible by Dublin Bus number 130 or by car (limited parking space on the island itself), by bike or on foot, this urban nature reserve was formed over time following the construction of the South Wall and the North Bull Wall to deepen the port of Dublin. This is a very popular spot, so if you are doing the 6.75 mile loop trail, be respectful of walkers of all ages and skill levels.
You can choose your own starting point on Causeway Road or North Bull Wall. The loop incorporates Dollymount Beach (hard sand at low tide is best for running) and a grassy path that runs along the mainland on your return.
The best starting point for this short 2.5 km run is the Killiney Hill parking lot. From there, take the paved path north towards Dalkey Hill and its quarry – a popular training ground for rock climbers. Be respectful of walkers along the route, especially on the steps along different sections of the route. The longest stretch of the road along the cliffs runs parallel to the coast with Killiney Bay directly below. The route goes around the Mapas obelisk. Return to the car park via a hilly path.
Three rock mountain
Dublin’s mountains offer plenty of possibilities for those who are fit enough to enjoy the uphill run, so this 4k run from Ticknock Forest shouldn’t be a problem for these hardy types. There are many trails – including orienteering and mountain biking trails as well as walking routes – at this popular location, so following the mountain access road trail may be a quieter alternative. . Once at the rocks, cross the road, follow the green trail signs, then follow the main walkers path through Three Rock Wood to the mountain access road to retrace your steps to the parking lot.
Cruagh Mountain Road
Another popular wood in the Dublin Mountains, Cruagh Mountain is one of the region’s three peaks – the others are Killakee and Glendoo. The 5 km loop walk / run begins just above the parking lot. You can follow the footprint symbols on the wide trail, then along a walk on a mountain access trail up the open hill to the top. Go down west to join a wide downhill track.
Massy’s Wood and the Hell Fire Club
The mature forests of Massy’s Estate offer delightful walks and loop runs during these fall months. The nearby Hell Fire Club also offers short loop rides. Both forests are managed by Coillte and detailed maps are available at dublinmountains.ie.
Glenasmole Resevoirs Loop
This 9 km loop walk / run off the beaten track leads to the beautiful Glenasmole Valley which has a good variety of birch, hazel, larch, firs and Scots pines. It is also home to the two Bohernabreena reservoirs which were built in the Dodder River between 1883 and 1887. The route follows the Dodder throughout the lower reservoir before looping around the upper reservoir and retracing your trail at the start. . The Glenasmole car park is on the left just after the R114 takes a sharp turn to cross the River Dodder on a narrow bridge.
Despite being a managed landscape, Dublin City’s largest park nonetheless offers plenty of running opportunities with a mix of fields and tree-lined paths. It is also very accessible on foot, by bus or Luas (descent at Heuston station). Depending on your fitness level and your time, you may choose to walk the entire 7 mile perimeter wall. You can also choose to follow a 7 km inner loop, starting and ending at the Ashtown Castle Visitor Center and passing through Áras an Uachtaráin, the zoo, then returning via the Fort Magazine and the Papal Cross.
All directions given are only guidelines to whet your appetite for routes. We strongly advise all runners / walkers to bring maps, guides and / or follow the signage at the specific location. Check the weather before going out and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Always let someone know when and where you are going and let them know when you are safe to return. Follow the principles of leaving no trace and bring all your trash home.