Living in the South of Dublin, one of my favourite things about the area is that there are countless hikes and nature trails within a short drive of the city.
Glen of The Downs Nature Reserve was one of the hikes on my list that I hadn’t been on yet, despite 5 years of living in Dublin. It can be found about a 40 minute drive south from the city centre and offers a beautiful setting just off the N11.
Locating the car park for Glen of The Downs is straight forward, just before the Delgany exit going south, start slowing down towards the location on Google Maps. The nature trail is sign posted and just off the M11 with ample parking.
The nature trail consists of a looped trail of 3.6km which is suitable for hikers with an average fitness. At first the trails near the parking lot are quite noisy along the roadside, but as you progress further along the trail it gets quieter and you can start noticing more of the birdlife. The nature trail ascends 110m and is rather steep in some parts.
Along the trail you can find oak wood plantations of Sessile Oak, Holly, Woodrush, Bilberry and Heather. You’ll be able to spot numerous bird species including the Jay, Treecreepers, Wrens, Blackbirds and Robins.
An interesting feature along the hike is The Octagon which is one of the last remaining structures of Bellevue Estate which belonged to a fabulously wealthy family: La Touche. The Estate was built in 1754 – 1776 and comprised of an impressive 300 acres and beautiful views of the countryside and ocean. The Estate had a mansion with beautiful gardens, a huge glasshouse with exotic plants, and a building called The Octagon which was built in 1766. Unfortunately the estate fell to ruin and was demolished in the 1950’s. Only The Octagon’s structure was left standing.
This was a beautiful walk, the only challenge I’d say was finding the main pathway since there are no markers on the trail.