They call this Howth Summit, but there might be higher places on the peninsula on the northern edge of Dublin Bay. Never mind that technicality, because when visiting Howth Harbour, you should really make the detour to the Summit and take in the view. Or have a meal at the pub there.
The Howth Summit
Well, glad you asked - and it all depends on the definition of the actual place. Generally speaking, this was the highest point ever reached by the trams running to Howth. And though the trams are long gone (one is preserved in the National Transport Museum, in the grounds of Howth Castle), the name stayed. Today the Summit is a stop for Dublin Bus.
And you have the Summit Stores at the bus stop, the Summit Inn nearby (of which more anon), and the (flimsily signposted) Summit Car Park. Which would actually be the highest place. And from which you'll be able to see some even higher places that are still parts of Howth. The car park is the main reason most people come here ... because only a few meters of the walk will give you great views of Dublin Bay and the well-positioned, quite old-fashioned Baily Lighthouse.
Why You Should Go to the Howth Summit
For the view. Pure and simple. You can also start a bit of cliff-walking here, true, but the great view is the thing most people head out to the Howth Summit for. Which makes one thing quite clear - if it is dark, or if there is a thick fog, Howth Summit might not be the best idea.
True, a foggy day on Howth Summit can be quite an experience, walk down the path from the car park for a few dozen meters and you'll think you are literally in the middle of nowhere, in an almost ethereal realm. Just make sure you stick to the path, otherwise, you may find yourself slipping and sliding down the steep hillsides and cliffs (not always a lethal experience, but highly uncomfortable to say the least).
As for night ... take a torch, otherwise, you'll almost be guaranteed a tumble. And be prepared for some lights in the distance, nothing more. Except maybe some, er, unusual nocturnal activities in the car park.
So, all in all, go in broad daylight and on a nice day. Oh, and try to avoid sunny weekends, as you'll more than likely find no parking space here then.
And the Local Attractions Are ...
... few. There is the scenery, there is the view, there is the Baily Lighthouse. And there is an odd concrete structure near the entrance to the car park, which may be of interest to the technology buff. As it was the base for the first radar used by Dublin Airport. Actually, many flights heading into Dublin Airport still fly across the Howth Peninsula.
Also of a passing interest might be the old tram track - though the line was shut down in 1959. The Great Northern Railway's Hill of Howth Tramway wound its way up the hill from Sutton. And even though the tracks have been long lifted, the old trackbed is still in use as a walking route, part of the recommended Howth Cliff Path Loop. Which is, however, better started near the seafront.
The Summit Inn
The Summit Inn might be a good idea for a stop as well - the house was originally built in the 19th century as a thatched cottage. Though it has stayed in the family over the generations, it has been extensively rebuilt. But not as much as to lose its charm. A traditional bar with a turf fire awaits the thirsty wanderer, and there is food for those feeling a bit famished. Including fresh fish, landed in Howth Harbour.
On a clear day, the view from the front may take in not only Ireland's Eye and Lambay but also (in the far distance) even the Mountains of Mourne as they roll down to the sea in County Down.
Howth Summit Essentials
- Directions for Drivers: Howth Summit may be reached from Howth Harbour via Abbey Street. If you are coming from Sutton, at the crossroads follow the signs for the "Scenic Route" to Howth - this will take you up to the Summit and then down into the village. There is normally ample car parking at the Summit, sunny weekends in summer being the exception.
- Directions for Walkers: Howth Summit is the highest point of the Howth Cliff Path Loop, which is best started at Howth Railway Station.
- Public Transport: Howth Railway Station (terminus for the DART service) is quite a distance off, but there is a Dublin Bus stop right at the Summit, a short walk from the Summit Car Park.