The Best Bike Ride in Ireland
This is an account of a bike ride I made 10.04.10. Unfortunately I’d knocked my camera into White Balance for Bulb mode by accident so I couldn’t quite correct the colour, but you’ll get the idea anyway.
The Beara Peninsula is the middle one of 5 on the Southwest Coast of Ireland. Three quarters of it is in Co.Cork and a quarter in Co.Kerry. It offers challenging cycling, but the best scenery for cycling, in my opinion and the roads are quiet. Some of the road surfaces are bockety, but it’s still great.
Mick, my son-in-law Keith and I drove to Glengarriffe (Gleann Garbh = a rugged glen, and that it certainly is) and started from there. Glengarriffe is unbelievably picturesque.
We headed west to Adrigole. Leaving Glengarriffe there’s a 3 mile intermittent climb which offers the steepest climb of the day, in parts.
You cycle past small inlets, small lakes and great views out to sea.
Eventually you reach the peak of this section and there’s a mostly downhill section to near Trafrask (Trá Phraisce = Beach with rubbish, I think. Could also mean porridge but such an “organic” beach would be unusual in Ireland!). This is a tiny hamlet. The cycle continues to Adrigole Village and then falls downhill to the junction for the Healy Pass.
This road was finished before world war 2 and was named after Tim Healy, a governor general of Ireland when Ireland was part of the Commonwealth (till 1948).
Adrigole Harbour. The beautiful mountain in the background is Hungry Hill, more than 2000ft. In Irish is Cnoc Daod. Meaning of Daod is unknown. It could be the name of some pagan god. Cnoc is Hill. This hill is a famous hillwalk, risky in bad weather.
The climb of the Healy pass is initially straight but then a series of hairpins.
There’s nothing steep in in, but it is all uphill. I think the elevation is about 430m. About 100m on the far side (north) you can park your bike by a wall on the left and walk in about 50 m to a rock which gives you one of the best views in Europe.
View from Northern Side of Healy Pass
The descent is winding and a little steep in areas. Not one for blasting down as a slalom job. The climb of the Northern side is more difficult.
Eventually you pass the Síbín pub at the bottom and turn left and then first right.
This takes you through huge pines
on a coastal loop through Kilmacillogue Harbour where there is a pub, O’Sullivans, where we had sandwiches and coffee. They do fantastic fresh salmon sandwiches.
This harbour is gorgeous. You can turn right on the main road to Kenmare, instead of going to Kilmacillogue, but it’s hillier and much less interesting.
Suitably refreshed we headed along the coast on a quiet road, and then slightly inland to meet the main road to Kenmare. This is scenic with some lovely views.
This view is inland to a sea-lough.
Reaching the outskirts of Kenmare we take a right to climb the Caha pass, known to everyone as the Tunnel Road, because there are a couple of short tunnels on it.
Climbing tunnel road
This climbs to a similar height as the Healy pass, and then drops down to Glengarriffe. On the right there is huge scenery as you descend.
This telephoto shot shows Barley Lake. There is a road going up to this which briefly maxes at 32%. You can see it on the right of the photograph and the steepest bit is near the bottom. I rode up it once, years ago on an MTB without getting off! On the way down, the braking had to be such that the heat blew off a patch on the inner aspect of my rear tube!
53 miles, just over 12mph. Boys cycling too hard for fun. I’ll shoot them the next time! The weather was, as we say in Cork, massive!