Cycling from 'Mizen Head to Malin Head’, The End to End of Ireland '
I have been to Ireland many times cycling before so I thought it was about time I had a Crack (get it……) at the Irish End-End, as usual I wanted someone else to carry my luggage and work out a route for me, not to mention get the chance to meet some new people, seeing as I have come to prefer this style of touring I decided to go once again with 'Bike Adventures'.
The Coast (spelt Koast) Road on the 1st day around Dunmanus Bay
The tour started for real on the Sunday Morning at Mizen Head, thirteen of us ranging from a thirteen year old boy right upto a seventy five year 'young' man headed northwards, along the stunning coast road around Dunmanus bay, on route to Glengarriff. The sun was shining, the wind in our favour, as said above I have been to Ireland many times, before I go people often say "ooooooooooh take your waterproofs as it always rains in Ireland" and every time I have cycled for the majority of the time in the sunshine!
Much of the first day from Mizen Head was like this
I have not been to Ireland for about six years, the transformation being plain to see, especially in the South West, instead of run down tin roofed workman’s cottages we now passed brand new imposing homes with frequent regularity, in some areas it seemed we could not go 200 yards without seeing one these properties, all of similar style, either under construction or recently built. This is of course in many ways a good thing to see, as people are now living to a much higher standard than before, although many felt that this also spoilt the natural quaintness and charm that Ireland was known for; of course we must accept that nothing can stay the same forever, especially if progress is to be made.
Although Ireland has changed significantly much of the charm still remains
Something that has not changed was the open friendliness of the locals, most said hello or asked were we were heading as we passed, if we had stopped to look at our route sheets many took the time to ask if we needed help, some even stopped their cars to do so. One rider was on a Trike and even when we passed the many children playing in their front gardens (front gardens were often larger, more prominent and more used than the rear gardens) not once was anything other than encouragement or “like your bike Mister” ever said. Mind you I wish the same could be said for the dogs, who did not always seems so friendly!
Some of the hills can be challenging, the Slieve Mish Mountains after the Ring Of Kerry
On the doggie front Ken the Trike man had a big advantage here with his rear wheels protecting him in a ‘Ben Hur’ Chariot kind of fashion, took a couple of days for me to realise this, I thought he was ever so brave to begin with, as he didn't batter an eyelid when they would frequently leap over their garden walls with our names on their fangs! Where as I would just whizz up the road as fast as my little legs would allow, accompanied by lots screaming and shouting, hoping of course that they understood fluent English swearing! Not big or clever I know but justified, as a polite "begone doggie" never seemed to work, I did of course try to look as rough tough and bad to know as I could; although that did not seem to work that well when I was wearing my lycra! In the end I found it best to just point to the rider behind me and shout "eat him, eat hiiiiiiiiim"!
The quiet lanes of Ireland are always a pleasure to cycle along
Day three had us heading down the popular Gap of Dunloe, a popular tourist route with horse drawn carriages transporting holiday makers along this picturesque track through the ring of Kerry. Although on tour, we still also found the time to visit other popular tourist spots, such as the Cliffs of Moher, all be it only for a short while as it was just so windy that many were whinging how cold it was; Ok Ok I was I was …….
The Cliffs of Moher, must be one of the most common pictures of Ireland!
As we headed further North the newer properties started to thin out and although the scenery was less picturesque in many ways I preferred it, as we started to see more of the Ireland I remembered and what I was expecting to see, with more open spaces and older style cottages. As we finally headed into Northern Ireland it was remarkable how quickly the local accent changed, although the scenery was no less beautiful, the last days ride to Malin Head being one of the best days cycling of the tour as well as the longest, 82 miles for those taking transport from Malin Head to the last nights B & B and 120 for those of us who rode the last section of what was an unexpectedly pretty ride into Londonderry.
We did not get much rain, but even when we did it was not all bad news.
In conclusion I once again met some great people and made some new mates (always the best bit for me), got a tan, had a great bike ride in what still is a beautiful country, had the odd Guinness or three (tastes so much better in Ireland), shared many and vastly exagerated tales of derring do around the dinner table, plus rode myself fitter; now what more can you ask for.
Group Photo the morning after the night before
This group tour was organised by www.bikeavdentures.co.uk ; please note that since this write up Bike Adventures has become a limited Company with new management, so the tours on offer may differ, although I have no experience with them under the new ownership I would hope they still offer quality tours; for anyone interested I have included a link to their website below:
Tour organised by :www.Bikeadventures.co.uk