The view from Bray Head encompasses the town of Bray and south county Dublin as far as Killiney Hill and Dalkey Island, with Howth Head and Lambay Island visible across Dublin Bay. The concrete cross dates from 1950, and has far outlasted the chairlift opened in the same year to ferry customers to the Eagle’s Nest café above the town.
Though the cross marks the top of Bray Head as seen from the promenade, the highest point is actually 2km further south, with views over Greystones and on to Wicklow Head. No eagles here, but ravens sometimes put on an aerobatic display above the cliffs.
The last of Ireland’s lighthouses to be automated, the Baily Lighthouse on Howth Head lies to the north of Dublin Bay, while Dalkey Island and the Muglins lighthouse are to the south. The double summit of the Little Sugar Loaf and the conical summit of the Great Sugar Loaf are visible beyond.
Whereas most Wicklow summits were rounded by glacial action, the Great Sugar Loaf was a nunatak protruding above the ice, and so escaped erosion. Its conical shape and exposed quartzite summit gave rise to its name. West Wicklow also has a Sugarloaf Mountain, as does Cork, although the more modestly named Sugarloaf Hill on the Tipperary/Waterford border is the tallest of them all. Sweet.
…if not forever, at least quite a long way. Looking north from the cliff walk on Bray Head, Howth Head is visible 20km away across Dublin Bay, with Lambay Island beyond at 35km. The edge of Dalkey Island is just visible where the cliff walk rounds the corner, with the Muglins rocks and their solar-powered lighthouse to the east.
The short outer tunnel was part of Brunel’s original 1855 route for the railway line between Bray and Greystones, which included wooden trestle bridges. Looking south towards Greystones, the challenge Brunel faced is evident.