Ship anybody to the west coast of Eire and they’re going to fall in love with it in some unspecified time in the future. For me it was at a junction in Maum, County Galway, the place I had stopped to take a photograph of a signpost however ended up having my breath taken away by the Maumturk Mountains in all their pastoral, sunlit glory.
It was day 4 of my six-day journey alongside the size of Eire – and Connemara was exhibiting off, as if saying to the remainder of the nation: “Is that every one you’ve obtained?” And but already the route had taken me throughout the Cork and Kerry mountains on day one, alongside a wonderful beach-studded coast on day two, and the Cliffs of Moher and the barren wilderness of the Burren on day three.
Mizen Head to Malin Head – or Mizmal because the staff at Wild Atlantic Biking name it – is Eire’s equal of Britain’s Land’s Finish to John O’Groats. The journey I took was six days at a mean 85 miles a day – 510 miles in all. Wild Atlantic take your luggage from resort to resort and meet you midway for a picnic lunch and for a cup of tea in the course of the morning.
Ballybunion on County Kerry’s superb beach-studded shoreline. : James Hislop
This isn’t the type of journey for flinty do-it-yourselfers who blanch on the thought of not carrying their very own panniers, discovering a campsite and boiling up a tin of beans on the primus range for tea.
However nevertheless you journey it, Eire is hilly, Eire is windy, and Eire may be moist (though I used to be fortunate), and when the solar comes out it may be as sapping as anyplace.
The group I used to be with included 4 individuals who had cycled Land’s Finish to John O’Groats, an ultramarathon runner-turned-cyclist, and a really match triathlete. We typically rode in teams, typically on our personal, often coming collectively for lunch to match notes, sights alongside the best way, and numerous aches. You don’t must be tremendous match to finish this journey, however you do want to coach a bit. However it’s price it.
Day one (98 miles, 6,000ft of climbing) takes you from Schull, by way of Mizen Head to Killarney – over the Caha Go, Moll’s Hole and the Hole of Dunloe. It’s a troublesome begin however you’ll bear in mind these three climbs (successively shorter, however successively steeper), the views from the highest, and the descents.
A tricky climb as much as the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare. : James Hislop
Day two (79 miles, three,000ft) is a succession of lovely seashores, ending on the mile-long strand of Spanish Level, County Clare – an remoted, wild place and a well-deserved finish to the day.
Day three (69 miles, 2,300ft) is certainly one of outstanding magnificence. Not solely the Cliffs of Moher (a troublesome climb) however the magnificent desolation of the Burren – an enormous, lunar, limestone panorama that begins excessive and comes all the way down to the ocean. On a sunny day, driving by it’s like pedalling by a e book of fantastical illustration.
And so to superb day 4 (78 miles, 2,500ft). From Galway Metropolis you’re quickly into Connemara. Having seen Aghadoe in County Kerry, I ended to take a photograph of the signal for Conga (the place they filmed John Wayne’s The Quiet Man) for fun. However all ideas of Black Lace’s tacky pop hits disappeared as I turned and noticed the Maumturks – all of the extra pretty as a result of they had been so sudden. Who knew a mountain vary might sneak up on you?
The Hole of Dunloe. : James Hislop
In addition to Eire’s solely true fjord – Killary Harbour – day 4 additionally consists of the journey’s greatest climb. The Sheeffry Go is a correct out-of-the-saddle, 500ft-plus brute that hurts in case you do it in a single go. The automotive park close to the highest isn’t the highest, by the best way.
After that you just really feel you will have earned your Guinness and dinner in Westport, watching the solar taking place over Croagh Patrick, the two,500ft pilgrimage mountain that dominates the skyline.
Everybody’s obtained to have a foul day and day 5 – Westport to Donegal – was mine. It’s the longest of the journey. Roughly 110 miles and a pair of,600ft of climbing, most of which appears to be packed into the horrible climb away from the beautiful Lough Gill. About 100 of the miles had been right into a headwind and regardless of extra lovely mountain surroundings, and the sudden sight of a statue of the blues legend Rory Gallagher in Ballyshannon, I used to be clinging on by the top.
All too quickly, it’s day six. The ultimate 76 miles and three,100 toes. The breakout to the ocean at Fahan begins to really feel such as you’ve achieved the space, however the journey up the Inishowen peninsula (particularly in one other headwind throughout extra bleak, lovely bogland) is to not be sniffed at. However then the indicators for Malin Head start to look and also you’re winding it in. I solely knew Malin Head from the transport forecast. Now I consider it as a rocky headland with wartime lookout stations, Star Wars references (they filmed episode eight close to right here) and a view that feels as in case you are on the finish of the world.
The Maumturks: ‘Who knew a mountain vary might sneak up on you?’ : James Hislop
One final climb up one final sharp, dusty hill and also you’re over the end line and being greeted by Paul Kennedy and Noel Boyce, the good chaps who make Wild Atlantic Biking work. A few of chances are you’ll have a look at the worth and marvel if it’s actually price it. I’d say sure – and this wasn’t a freebie. It’s price it not only for the sheer reduction of reaching a resort on the finish of every day, but in addition due to these two guys – eager cyclists whose consideration to element, hospitality and route-finding is second to none.
That is a very lovely a part of the world. Two wheels may simply be one of the simplest ways to see it.