As an avid cyclist, one of my favourite pastimes is finding the next country to line with my bike trails. Having ridden the meandering rocky trails in the mountain tops of Switzerland, and the sandy paths of Brazil’s seaside villages, my hunger for more was barely containable. I recently did a Canada tour including Gulf Islands, Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fort Erie, Blueberry Route, Eastern Townships bike ride, and The Cabot Trail bike ride.
My next sojourn saw me headed for Ireland. This beautiful island country is a treasure trove of biking trails, not to mention the natural attractions along the way. An eye feast for nature lovers indeed. In this article, I’ll be discussing major biking trails you shouldn’t miss when in Ireland.
Why you should plan for an ESTA Visa early
I originally planned to go to the US- yeah, another great biking destination. But I didn’t sort my ESTA visa on time. No problemo, will have to do for another time. So, what’s an ESTA? Apparently, it is an approval documentation that allows citizens of Visa Waiver Countries to travel to the US.
Without one, you could be delayed at the airport or probably turned back (I didn’t want to take that chance). The good thing about getting an ESTA visa is that it’s all done online and takes only a few minutes to process. I guess I was already too hung up on Ireland, so I decided to schedule the US trip for another time. If you want more details on ESTA, visit the US Customs and Border Patrol website but I would probably just go with www.esta-visa.ie/ next time.
The thing about Ireland…
When I arrived Ireland, the first thing that hit me was the atmosphere. There was this dreamy quality to it, I almost expected to ride into a leprechaun any minute. But, it’s probably just my wild imagination. To sum it up I enjoyed the whole trip. Not just the trail, but the people and places I visited. Almost everyone I met had an interesting story to tell.
Without further ado, here’s a list of my favourite bike trails in the country. I did try to cover some of them in the few weeks I stayed. If you are a bike runner, you should give them a go sometime.
1. The Kingfisher Trail
If you are seeking that perfect off the beaten track experience, I recommend this trail for you. The Kingfisher Trail is a series of continuing country lanes that are mainly without traffic. If you are one of those who find interruption by cars and buses on your bike ride a tad annoying, you’ll love this tail. In the few hours I spent, I only encountered a handful of vehicles.
The vista is amazing. I implore you to take a camera too because you’ll need it a lot. The views of the Upper and Lower Lough Erne and Lough Macnean are nothing short of breath-taking. Other interesting sights include the Marble Arch caves and the Crom Estate. The trail is 300 miles long and can be broken into shorter day trips.
2. Trail to Spiddal, from Galway City (County Galway)
At 25 miles in length, this is a much shorter trail, but no less fun. You’ll be riding from the bounds of Galway City to Moycullen, along Clifden Road. There’s a steep rise along the route, but once you are past it, it’s smooth sailing the rest of the trail. While riding along this road towards Spiddal, you’ll see the famous Cliffs of Moher across the bay, by the right.
If it’s a clear sky day, you’ll be happy to see the Aran Islands in the horizon, right before proceed into Spiddal Village. You can break for coffee and biscuits at the crafts centre, buy a souvenir and exchange stories with a kind stranger before heading into the main village.
3. The Derroura Mountain Bike Trail
The Derroura Trail, which is 10 miles of Connemara landscape is situated along the west of Oughterard and managed by Coillite. The organisation also manages and maintains most of the trails and forest walks around Ireland.
Drive down the route and park your vehicle at the forest entrance beside Lough Bofin. From there, it’s a bit of a climb all through to the Knocklettefore mast. Trust me, it’s worth it. At the top, the view is breathtaking. The route is challenging but the scenery makes up for it. To get there, you can go through the villages of Glegarriff and Eyeries or take the ferry from Castletownbere to Bere Island and continue riding from there.
4. Mourne Mountains, County Down
Travel cyclists around the world love to talk about the Mourne Mountains. Its heather and moss-covered hilltops are the essence of the Irish countryside. It is also the inspiration for CS Lewis magical Island of Narnia- for the story (now movie), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
There are several cycle trails along The Mournes. For example, the 16-mile Rostrevor Route which gives you a panoramic view of the Rostrevor Forest, the Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Mountains.
If you ever need a good excuse to visit Ireland, let it be to see the beautiful view of Mourne Mountain’s mossy peaks. Canada and Ireland were both beautiful trips. Ireland was more compact, with less travel between tours. There was more variety in Canada, but Ireland was a delight.
This article was updated on 1-18-2018