I just got back from a great adventure in Ireland, and I probably still have a few pints of Guinness sloshing around in my belly. Rather than lugging my heavy Nikon d300, I just brought over the much more portable Canon s100. It takes nice pictures, and incorporates geotagging the images, so you can see them on maps.
The first place we visited was Howth, a beautiful little coastal village outside of Dublin. It was a easy train ride from Dublin City Center, and in about half an hour, you're dropped in the heart of the village. Your first stop should be up the West Pier. At the end of the pier is the tourist office, where you can pick up a trail map. Of course, you'll pass about 5 restaurants and fish markets. You can start or end your journey with a good meal here. All the places looked good, but the Salmon at the Brass Monkey was spectacular.
Wander past the harbor, keeping left, and you'll head right up to the coastal trail, called the Cliff Path Loop. At first you'll be walking up a road to access the trailhead, but you'll pass the little cottage where W.B. Yeats lived from 1880-1883. He was an Irish Nobel Prize winning poet, who wrote such lines as:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
W.B. Yeats home
So, you're in a literary mood when you start your hike. As you climb the road, you pass this beautiful house with the remains of an old, stone wall.
Keep moving, you're almost there. You'll find the trailhead, and probably walk past a few smiling locals. Here the trail starts, over stone steps and up along the steep trail on the hillside.
The trail is a bit precarious in places, so pay attention, but take time to admire the beauty.
On this beautiful trail, you'll hike past Balscadden Bay, Puck's Rocks, The Nose of Howth and Casana Rock. Right about at Lough Leven, and off in the fog shrouded distance, you'll see Baily Lighthouse. You can actually walk to the lighthouse if you're up to it. The longest trail, the Bog of the Frogs Loop, takes you about 10 miles throughout the countryside, but away from the edge of the coast. On the other hand, if you have a bit o' dust on your throat, you can climb the steps up at Lough Leven. Just at the top is a parking area, and down the little road is a nice pub. There you can get a meal, shoot pool and warm up. A pint of Guinness will give you the energy to wander down the road to the train station. Great hike!