Parking in Bray was not easy and we finally drove into the car park of the last hotel along the seafront where they had spaces and charged three euros for the day. Across the road on the beach we found plenty of stones and virtually no sand – just a little at low tide. M and I looked in vain for sea glass, well we did find just a couple of bits and some worn plastic! We caught up with the others and began our ascent up the cliff. The path is quite wide to start with and then divides as paths go down to the shore and up to the top of the hill which has a big cross at the summit. It was a bit worrying that there was a sign declaring the path closed due to a landslip, but as lots of folk were coming towards us, we decided to ignore it!
Now the path narrowed and wound its way along the cliff just above the railway line that kept disappearing into tunnels underneath us. Below us we could look down to the sea and stony outcrops where sea birds were nesting. We think we saw cormorants, guillimots, fulmars, kittiwakes, razorbills and various gulls. The birds were nesting and must have had young as the gulls circled about harassing the parents on their way in to the nests. There were many wildflowers blooming along the path, too. This is a popular path and we had to let people pass as we stood aside in some places. We also stopped quite a lot to take in the view and all the activity out to sea.
After a couple of hours we could see Greystones and were soon descending towards the town. They are in the middle of a huge scheme to renovate the harbour area. It also looks like they are trying to halt erosion of the coast line. This all means a detour around the yard, which is full of enormous concrete blocks, yet to be lifted into place as part of the sea wall. When finished, many sea associated clubs will have access to the coast without fear of being washed away. Walking along the road we soon came to the other end of the town where there is a busy beach thronged with visitors on this lovely day. We indulged in ‘99s’ sitting on the wall before strolling to the train station to catch the Dart back to Bray. The train followed the track we had been walking over, dodging in and out of tunnels, but also giving us some fine views across the Irish Sea.
We arrived in Bray and walked down to the beach for a wander along. M and I made patterns from stones – it would be a great place for making interesting installations if you had the time, there are so many different kinds of pebbles. Others collapsed on the lumpy surface for a while – can’t imagine it was that comfortable! But it was time for a cup of something, so we walked back to the road and eventually came across a café serving coffee and cookies. This was just perfect and we timed it right to take over a space from another family, just leaving. We watched people going by with chips and pizzas, but we were abstaining as we had dinner to look forward to.
Back at Ballyknocken we showered and changed and met downstairs at 19.30. The guesthouse doesn’t serve dinner on Sundays, but Catherine had arranged for us to go to a restaurant nearby. We drove down the road to the picturesque village of Rathdrum, found a parking space and then found Bates, our restaurant for the evening. It serves Italian cuisine and is situated in an inn (Bates Inn) dating from 1785. We had a wonderful meal: Scallops, sardines, crab ravioli; Wexford beef fillet, Wexford lamb, Dover sole, Sea bass, Silverhill duck; crème caramel with orange sorbet, chocolate fondant with ice cream, and tirimisu. We drank two bottles of wine: Principe Corsini Maremma Toscana Birillo Red Blend 2006, a blend of Cabernet and Merlot; and Gavi di Gavi 2008. Both were delicious. It was a perfect way to celebrate D’s birthday.