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Written by David Walsh   
Thursday, 20 May 2010 14:07

O286-170 Sheet 56

Bray Head is a mountain with twin peaks. The more northerly, 206m high peak has a prominent cross on top. The larger, 240m peak is to the S. At shore level, there are two roughly equivalent headlands, Bray Head at O286-170 and Cable Rock at O290-156. Cable Rock is a pronounced headland with an off-lying rock. There are large seabird colonies on the head in the breeding season.

Swell develops if there are sustained or strong winds from N, E or S, and gives difficult conditions all along the headland from the promenade in Bray to Cable Rock. The sea frequently breaks over Cable Rock, 80m off the headland. The tide flows strongly through the gap. Beware of a deeper rock, about 50m off the shore, which breaks the lower half of the tide in bad conditions. The sea state off Bray Head is almost always more severe than on the adjoining coast. Rogue waves are not unusual. This is not a place to go swimming, as the escape routes are tricky, the few storm beaches having dumping surf.

This whole 3km section is a fine paddle, very scenic, the slopes of Bray Head rising above, and the cliffs at the water?s edge a modest rock-climbing haven. Look for the climbing cliffs just N of the Cable Rock headland. They are identified by the metal spikes in the steep ground in the first 20m above HW where the railway tunnel opens.

There are three landable storm beaches on the head, but they are exposed and steep, or even missing, at HW. Above them runs the railway line, which was engineered out of the cliff with great difficulty in the mid 19th Century. The most convenient embarkation point in Bray is at the extreme S end of the promenade at O276-179, closest to the head.


From Dalkey Island to Wicklow Head, 35km S, the N going flood runs from Dublin HW +0515 to 0045, achieving 3.5 knots in places, in springs. The S going ebb achieves 3 knots. N of Greystones though, it is mostly possible to keep inshore, out of the way of an unfavourable tide.

Text reproduced from Oileáin by kind permission of the author, David Walsh. Text was extracted from Oileáin (online edition) on 4th May 2010.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 June 2010 19:18

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