A New Route, not easy

In Ireland we are blessed with a huge road network, but this is a mixed blessing, because many of the roads are not that well-surfaced, and in a hilly county like Cork, most of the minor roads involve hills, and in many cases serious hills.

I'd often cycled from Innishannon to Ballinspittle and Garrettstown, along the River Bandon, and had cycled from Bandon to Kilbrittain, but had never really cycled the bit in-between those two routes, because of the complexity of the road-system and its undoubted hilliness.

Yesterday after consulting the maps I decided to give it a go. I love exploration.

I cycled the main road as far as Innishannon.


Chetwynd Viaduct 2 miles outside Cork City. I have been unable to find out why it's called Chetwynd. Obviously a man's surname. Known in Cork as "The Viaduct". The Rail-line closed about 1961.

I seldom do this as there's a quieter back route. Innishannon is a lovely but busy village about 13 miles from my house.

Interesting statue in Innishannon!

Having left at 12, it being too cold to leave earlier, I had a nice chicken roll in the Gala shop at the end of the village. I'd eaten there before and the rolls are sensational. Leaving the village I crossed the bridge across the river and turned left along the Bandon, and after a couple of miles or so, I took the second right. This is a poorly surfaced wooded magic road.


I took the first left and then had to negotiate the first of the severe hills of the day. I'd done it before. It is about 200 yards long and hits 15%. No problem to a Rohloff hub. The road ran by houses and then dropped into a valley where I had to turn left for a while. Then it wound through lovely countryside before a drop, a T-junction where I turned left and first right and hard climb number two. This was a similar slope and there followed a flattish area until I came to a second T-junction. There was an unsurfaced farm track facing straight on, so I turned right and after about 200 m left. I'd asked a lady in a car and she'd told me that this was the way, and that there was a "fair pull" up the hill. Translation, not easy!. She did not lie. I reckon hitting 20% and maybe 200 yards. At the top I veered left and there was a crossroads, or as you'll be told out the country in Ireland, a "cross of four roads".

A Fair Pull!

At the top I found myself at the crossroads of Crushnalanniv (Crois na Leanbh). I'd never heard of it before, until I'd seen it on the map in the morning. This means the Cross of the Children, and what it means is that it was a place where unbaptized children used to be buried, with a cross to mark the spot. They weren't buried in graveyards if they weren't baptized. That kind of nonsense is long gone in Ireland.
At the crossroads there was a monument to four men killed in Ireland's war of Independence with the British. They had been digging a trench across the road at night to prevent British Troop movements in that area (I looked it up on the Internet this morning) and a night Patrol came upon them and four were killed. This happened in 1921. Co.Cork has many such monuments as it was the epicentre of rebel activity from the military point of view, the chief protagonist being Tom Barry. He was a trained British Army soldier in WW1 and even though very young, he was very bright and totally ruthless and perfected a form of guerilla warfare that was very difficult to counter.

The I.R.A referred to in this is not your modern organisation. It's what is referred to in Ireland as the Old IRA. Not the same chaps.


The countryside was lovely around here and very up and down. This road led to a backroad between Kilbrittain and Ballinspittle and then to the main road between them. I was up quite high, at 500ft and had a great view of the coastline between Courtmacsherry and Kinsale. Then it was dull routine back to Garrettstown Ballinspittle, Kinsale and home.. It was getting cold, I was into a biting wind on the way home and was really tired after my 52 miles at 10.5 mph and 3350ft of climbing, according to my GPS.
A memorable day, however

Irish Naval Corvette near Garrettstown



6 comments on “A New Route, not easy”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Good ride, nice pics. The countryside is indeed full of history, often right under your feet, so to speak. One of the bleak moors I cycle over is just that: bleak, windswept. But if you look into the history of the place you find that a couple of hundred years ago there were all sorts of things going on up there – mining, a mill, dwellings, and even an ale house. Now, there's absolutely nothing left except a few ditches and pits, and sheep of course.

    Your 'fair pull' photo does actually look like a fair pull. It's not easy to show how steep a hill really is in a photograph.

  2. Mary wrote:

    Loved your post Garry, and really enjoyed your photographs. Like Patrick says, the 'fair pull' picture really does look like the road falls of the end of the world...

    Stunning beaches too.... I understand a number of films were made in Ireland due to its beautiful beaches. Ireland is going on my 'places to visit by bike' lists. I was even studying ferries to Cork today, with thoughts of cycling to Dublin or Belfast. What are the routes like in Ireland? I noticed your road numbers are different to UK ones. Can you recommend any cycle friendly visiting Ireland by bicycle books?

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Ryan's Daughter – a lovely film.

    On Amazon there's a Cicerone Guide for cycling in Ireland (paperback – Feb 2010). Cicerone Guides are normally pretty good. Also a Lonely Planet Cycling Guide for Ireland (paperback – July 2003), and would you believe it – a Cyclists' Touring Club Route Guide to Cycling in Great Britain and Ireland (hardcover – Jan 1982) available on Amazon for the price of £0.01. Why would anyone sell a book for one penny?

    Garry wrote: ... yesterday after consulting the maps I decided to give it a go. I love exploration.

    I did the same this afternoon, pretty much. Instead of turning right into the hills where I normally go, I turned left onto the West Lancashire plain, towards the area between Southport and Chorley. I'm not used to cycling a route that is flat all the way, but this one was – about 40 miles with no "pulls", going through some pleasant farmland I've never seen before.

    Added later: Courtmacsherry, Ballinspittle, Dripsey – those Irish placenames in Garry's posts are beautiful, so evocative.

  4. Mick F wrote:

    A "fair pull" is a good expression.

    I tried to take photographs of hills round here, and even started a thread on the CTC Forum about it. I never thought that you could take one at the top with the "horizon" disappearing beyond. Good one!

    A great post too, and nice to see that the sunshine comes up somewhere. We've had damp and dismal weather for weeks, and although the sun does shine, it's never for long enough.

    Any road up, I'm going t have to take my camera with me next time out, and take a shot or two of "a fair pull".

  5. Chris wrote:

    Never made it to the coast this morning, but I doubt that I could have captured such stunning images. Great photographs, that's a particularly good one of the road disappearing.

  6. john walshe wrote:

    Independent assessment of Irish Cycle Touring Routes at http://www.travellogireland.com
    (my website)

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    Do you want an independent assessment of Ireland's Official Cycling Routes? If you do read on. My name is John Walshe and I have decided to cycle them all. According to the Failte Ireland website we have about 79 cycling routes in the Republic of Ireland which came as news to me when I happened upon that claim earlier on this year (2010). Since then I have been cycling them one by one and I have uploaded my report on each route onto my web page. Some of them are o.k. but most of them are dreadful. I intend to assess each and every one of them. I am cycling them solely from the viewpoint of a touring cyclist i.e. the kind of person who uses his holidays to cycle bringing with him all his luggage, tent etc. on the bike. As I cycle these routes I also bring along with me a theoretical nine years old daughter and an equally theoretical 10 years old son. This is the standard test that is used internationally. Would you let your two kids cycle this route? If the answer is 'yes' then the route qualifies all things considered. If the answer is 'no it's too dangerous' then the route does not qualify. It's as simple as that. Of course scenery has to be factored in and the degree of difficulty.
    So that is what I am doing and I want people to know about it because it's important. Why should people either natives or foreigners have to cycle some incredibly dangerous or incredibly ugly cycle route? These routes are being heavily promoted by various authorities all over the country and I am not happy about that because most of the routes as I have already said are dreadful from the perspective of a normal touring cyclist who values his life and the lives of his loved ones and is not happy been hoodwinked into cycling some route which is extremely dangerous, obscenely ugly (ribbon development ad nauseum) or impossible to follow as half the signs have been twisted and most of the other half have been stolen. I do not know how long it will take but whatever length it takes it will take.
    In addition I have uploaded onto my site accounts of various adventures I have had abroad cycle touring and of course I am also trying to sell a book on cycling or walking 'The Kerry Way' but for most people the assessment of Ireland's cycling routes is the most relevant part of the site. So check it out!

    John Walshe

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