Here are some suggestions for 6 Fun Nature Walks in North Dublin that the whole family will enjoy, from the shore line to the mountains. And check out our suggestions for fun nature walks in South Dublin too.
#1. Bull Island, Clontarf, Dublin 3
Bull Island is located in Dublin Bay and is connected to the mainland by the Bull Bridge, today a one-lane wooden road bridge at the southern (Clontarf/Dollymount) end, and by a broad causeway at Raheny, approximately halfway along.
The island is primarily a sand structure approximately 5km long and 1km wide. Bird life on the island has been protected and it was designated a national nature reserve in 1988. Bird species on the island include Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Eurasian Curlews, Eurasian Oystercatchers, Grey Plovers and Northern Shovelers.
There are five terrestrial mammal species on the island: Brown Rats, Red Foxes, field mice, Irish Hares, and European Rabbits. Common Seals and Grey Seals are also found in the surrounding waters and can regularly be seen hauled out on sand at low tide at the tip of the island near Howth. Harbour Porpoise can also be seen sometimes out in the bay.
The island is also home to many species of plants including the Bee orchid, Pyramidal orchid and common spotted orchids. There is an interpretative centre at the end of the causeway on the right hand side which has displays and information on the flora and fauna of the island. An excellent Nature Walk for the whole family.
#2. Phoenix Park, Dublin 15
Right on our doorstep we have one of Europe’s largest enclosed urban parks, the Phoenix Park, which is a fantastic place for family walks. With about 30% of the Phoenix Park covered by trees such as oak, ash, lime, beech, sycamore and horsechestnut there is plenty to see and show the children.
Among the 351 different plant species to be found in the Park there are three, which are rare and protected. The Park has retained almost all of its old grasslands and woodlands and also has rare examples of wetlands. It is also home to over 500 wild deer which can be seen throughout the park.
There are extensive walking trails throughout the Park and the south western corner of the park is known as the Furry Glen and has a series of short walks centred around a small lake with birds, plants and wildlife. Phoenix Park is also home to Dublin Zoo.
#3. Ireland’s Eye, Howth, Co. Dublin
Ireland’s Eye is a small uninhabited island situated directly north of Howth Harbour. The island is easily reached by regular tourist boats.
Ireland’s Eye comprises the main island, a range of rocks and an islet called Thulla. The most spectacular feature is the huge freestanding rock called “the Stack”, at the northeastern corner of the island, which plays host to a large variety of seabirds, including thousands of guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and gulls.
There is a large cormorant colony on the main island, and a few breeding pairs of Puffins. Grey seals are abundant in the sea around the island.
Straight off the boat you walk across rabbit burrows some of which are used by nesting Shelduck. Herring Gulls also nest on the open ground so a good idea to stick to the paths to avoid walking on the camouflaged chicks or eggs.
So lots of birds to be seen and things to be explored, there is also two buildings on the island, a Martello tower from 1800s and the ruined church said to date from the 6th century.
#4. Malahide Castle, Malahide, Co. Dublin
A great park on Dublin’s Northside for a nature walk. There are designated trails throughout the park, through the large green open spaces and around the many wooded areas. Keep an eye out for the squirrels that reside here.
Visitor attractions within the Malahide Castle Grounds include Malahide Castle itself, Fry Model Railway, Tara’s Palace and Childhood Museum and Talbot Botanic Gardens.
The Talbot Botanic Gardens, situated behind the castle, comprises of several hectares of plants and lawns, a walled garden of 1.6 hectares and seven glasshouses, including a Victorian period conservatory. Many plants from the southern hemisphere, notably Chile and Australia, are featured. Overall a wonderful way to see nature with the whole family.
#5. Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin
Ardgillan Demesne is a popular local park on 200 acres, with a mix of woodlands and large grass open spaces.
The park contains a walled herb garden, rose garden, Victorian conservatory, tea rooms and an ice house.
And after exploring the park with the children you can finish off with a play in the fantastic playground.
#6. St. Anne’s Park, Raheny, Dublin 5
St. Anne’s Park is a public park and recreational facility, shared between Raheny and Clontarf on the northside of Dublin.
The park has a number of features, from the small Naniken River to the Duck Pond, a number of follies, a walled garden, and grand avenue. And from more modern times, a rockery, a famous Rose Garden including a newer miniature rose garden, and Dublin’s city arboretum, with 1,000 varied trees.
The walled garden, including a fruit garden is now chiefly a 12 acre plant nursery for the Parks Department. Thousands of bedding plants, shrubs, trees, and floral tubs are produced annually in the nursery. There is a herbaceous garden area open during limited hours, and a fine clock tower, restored to working order in 2007.
In 1975, St. Anne’s Rose Garden was opened to the public. In 1980 it was given a Civic Award by Bord Failte and the Irish Town Planning Institute, and since 1981 it has been a centre for International Rose Trials.
Keep a look out for all the mammals which can be found in the park including badgers, hedgehogs, rabbits, fox, red squirrels, grey squirrels, house mice, field mice, pipistrelle bats and brown rats.
If there is a nature walk we haven’t mentioned that you enjoy please let us know in the comments below.