Irish tour - route advice?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
JamesE
Posts: 410
Joined: 12 Feb 2013, 1:12am
Location: London

Irish tour - route advice?

Postby JamesE » 20 Apr 2018, 12:03am

In a couple of months I'm going to be riding from Dublin down to the south-west tip of Cork. It's about 200 miles by the direct route, but I normally do 70-90 miles a day on tour and I'll have four days to do it in. So I'll probably be plotting a meandering and scenic route of about 300-320 miles and I'm seeking suggestions - really, for pretty areas or specific roads to ride through (or avoid) rather than tourist destinations.

I'm probably going to head south from Dublin initially through the Wicklow Mountains, and I'd rather not follow the south coast because I'll going that way on the return journey for the ferry back from Rosslare. But otherwise it's all up for grabs. Suggestions? How about through the Wicklow Mountains then all the way across to the west coast and down via Tralee and Killarney? (Hilly is fine. I like hills).

Norman H
Posts: 737
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 4:39pm

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby Norman H » 21 Apr 2018, 2:24pm

Main roads in Ireland generally have a wide hard shoulder which is fine for cycling but wouldn't be my first choice. The quieter rural roads are much more pleasant but will reduce your average speed and daily distance.

You are spoilt for choice with route options. The Wicklow mountains are well worth the effort. The route south from Dublin on the old military road to Sally Gap and onwards is probably as good as any. Although navigating a route across Dublin may be a challenge.

One suggestion for your journey west is to use the Blackwater valley. The River Blackwater can be followed west from Cappoquin all the way to Rathmore close to its source in the Kerry mountains. The main road is mostly on the north of the valley but there are quieter alternatives on the south side of the river. From Mallow the railway also shares the same valley and can be followed across the Cork Kerry border all the way to Killarney. I cycled this way from Rosslare many years ago and it was a delightful ride and mostly pretty flat. From Killarney head south into West Cork through the Gap of Dunloe to Kenmare and then over the spectacular Priest's Leap to Bantry.

molzor
Posts: 112
Joined: 21 Dec 2014, 12:34pm

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby molzor » 23 Apr 2018, 5:08pm

I would say calling into wicklow will be nice.

i cycled across the middle of ireland from dublin to limerick last year in two days, i have to say it was veryyyy boring. pretty flat and just not a lot to look at (maybe made worse by the rain)

the west coast is much more interesting riding. the coast roads are obviously spectacular and there are some really beautiful roads near killarney if you have time. from glencar towards sneem/kenmare is a great section. the gap of dunloe is also beautiful but will be packed out with tourists in the summer months

eileithyia
Posts: 7532
Joined: 31 Jan 2007, 6:46pm
Location: Horwich Which is Lancs :-)

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby eileithyia » 23 Apr 2018, 7:29pm

Most of the hostels have probably gone now, but i used a route based around hostels, through Wicklow Mountains, Arklow, then across country Clonmel, Mitchelstown etc across to Cork, but i was going fairly direct as went on down to Cape Clear Is, then back up around Bantry Bay and Tipperary... certainly plenty to enjoy and see on minor routes.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

hilloverthehill
Posts: 31
Joined: 9 May 2016, 11:14am
Contact:

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby hilloverthehill » 8 May 2018, 12:25pm

I cycled round Ireland a few years ago sticking mainly to the coast and using backroads where possible. From Dublin I headed south to Glendaloch which is a nice spot, then angled across through Rathdrum, Bunclody, New Ross, south to Duncannon then across to Waterford on the ferry. Took the 675 to Dungarven (great wild camp on headland south of Annestown) , then a wee diversion to Ardmore which has an old round tower and there's a brilliant clifftop wild camp a bit further on at a place called Goat Island. More backroads where possible to Cork, then down to Kinsale, Timoleage, Clonakilty. From Ross Carbery there's a nice backroad past Drombeg stone circle then a bit of A road to Skibereen. Hope that helps. I was taking my time a bit more than you, and this south coast had some great spots. Have a good one!

SamWarrenCycling
Posts: 6
Joined: 1 May 2018, 11:16am

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby SamWarrenCycling » 10 May 2018, 3:16pm

I've not done it myself (I would really love to!!) but I did read about a good route here, just around Kerry (SW Ireland!) It's only c.180km so you could definitely incorporate it into some of the more ambitious routes posted above! http://bit.ly/2KqDxsq

JamesE
Posts: 410
Joined: 12 Feb 2013, 1:12am
Location: London

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby JamesE » 1 Jul 2018, 12:16pm

Belatedly: thanks all for advice. I ended up going Dublin->Wicklow Mountains->Kilkenny->Adare->Kenmare->Ballydehob on the way out, then back all along the south coast via Cobh->Dungarvan->Rosslare.

My thoughts for anyone reading:
* The Dunloe Gap is absolutely stunning - pretty much the best road I've ridden anywhere in Britain or Ireland - and an absolute must-not-miss.
* Priest's Leap is indeed a spectacular climb. Seriously hard work, but worth it.
* Don't worry about Dublin - I had to get from the ferryport in the north, right through the city centre and out to the south during rush hour and it was fine. There's some very good cycle infrastructure in place and my only "problem" (a nice one to have) was getting stuck in long queues of commuter cyclists.
* The standard of driving was very high, despite what I'd been told by just about everybody. I think I had one close pass in eight days of riding; otherwise every single driver hung back and passed slow and wide. Also, contrary to what I'd been told, the small roads were in decent condition - as good as or better than English ones.
* Short summary: had a wonderful tour, enjoyed pretty much every moment of it, intend to go back and explore further ASAP.

Norman H
Posts: 737
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 4:39pm

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby Norman H » 3 Jul 2018, 4:17pm

Ireland is a wonderful place for cycle touring, even when the scenery isn't the most inspiring the Irish hospitality more than makes up for it. Thanks for the feedback.

The Gap of Dunloe is indeed a great ride, especially if you can ride it early morning or late evening, when there are fewer tourists.

I've ridden Priest's Leap a few times but always going north, so I can't compare with the gradient in the opposite direction.

Incidentally if you return you should explore other ways to cross the Cork/Kerry border; the main road from Kenmare is OK, with two or three short tunnels, but it can be quite busy at times; further West on the Beara peninsular you have Healy Pass, and to the east there's a nice route south from Kilgarvan that brings you out at Bantry Bay, close to the start of the Priests Leap route. They all involve a fair bit of climbing because the border, for the most part, runs along the watershed of the mountains that stretch eastwards from the tip of the Beara to beyond Cork city.

mikeonabike
Posts: 141
Joined: 20 Jun 2016, 8:22am

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby mikeonabike » 4 Jul 2018, 9:38am

According to climbbybike, the steepest section of Priests Leap from the north is 16%. The route from the south isn't recorded, but the first section out of the valley looks quite steep on the map.

Given the reports of sheep/gravel/grass all over the road, is it better as a day ride than on a loaded tourer?

JamesE
Posts: 410
Joined: 12 Feb 2013, 1:12am
Location: London

Re: Irish tour - route advice?

Postby JamesE » 4 Jul 2018, 11:55am

mikeonabike wrote:Given the reports of sheep/gravel/grass all over the road, is it better as a day ride than on a loaded tourer?

Gravel and grass weren't a problem - there was the odd sheep on the road (though the descent from the Dunloe Gap was worse) but no worse than touring the North York Moors or Dartmoor. But yes, it was a tough climb with a touring load, so a day ride might be more enjoyable...