This is a wonderful piece written by Beth Goodlad. It tells of her adventure, cycling along some of the Wild Atlantic Way.
This gorgeous story has been separated into eight pieces, representing each of her eight days.
The Wild Atlantic Way is 1600 miles (2600 km) in length and is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world. It winds its way all along the Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north down to the picturesque town of Kinsale, County Cork, in the south. This route from start to finish unfolds the wonders of nature, the power of the ocean and its imprint on the west coast of Ireland, and the stunning countryside in all its diversity. Enchanting villages are nestled along the coast as well as ancient monuments - their origins having long sunk into the mists of oblivion dot the landscape. Behind every bend on this magical coastal road, a new delight awaits.
The wild Atlantic with its unrestrained and untameable tides and storms has continuously been moulding the west coast of Ireland. With a constant meeting of water and land, a deeply indented and wild terrain has emerged with towering cliffs, spellbinding bays and beaches, mystical islands, always changing and never reaching the end. In isolation or perhaps expressed in a different way of living near and with the Atlantic at your doorstep has ensured that old traditions and the Irish language have been preserved. A trip along the Wild Atlantic Way is also an encounter with the past.
…. And so it begins
Since doing Lands End to John O'Groats (LEJOG) a couple of years before, I had been looking around for my next cycling adventure and happened upon the Wild Atlantic Way. It is designed as a driving route up the west coast of Ireland from Kinsale to Derry/Londonderry and in all comprises of about 1500 miles (there are a lot of splits off the route where there is one road down to the end of a peninsula and then the same road to bring you back so you can make your route varying lengths). There is also the Causeway Coastal route which then runs from 120 miles from Derry around to Belfast which is also on my to-do list.
Seen as we had spent two weeks cycling about 1000 miles on LEJOG and three weeks off work wasn't going to be a go-er we decided that we were going to need to break this one down into sections. The group that ended up committing was my Dad, a friend from school who was currently living in Dublin and I. The plan was therefore made that my Dad and I would get the ferry across to Dublin and then we would all get the train down to Cork, the closest point to the bottom end of the route and cycle for a week to Limerick before getting the train back to Dublin. Due to the economy of Ireland being very Dublin centred all trains in Ireland go to Dublin which made this form of transport very easy for us.
Leading up to us going out I wasn't fit for it, I had spent the previous year doing too much (it was an amazing year at the time but not sustainable) and was well and truly burnt out. I, therefore, had my friend from Dublin texting me saying 'I'm scared you and your dad are going to leave me behind and I will hold you up as I haven't been out peddling' and me responding 'I haven't been out for 3 weeks and last time I did I peddled 20 miles' so it looked like I would be in good company.
Dad and I had driven up to Holyhead the night before and spent the night in rather dodgy accommodation that I won't recommend. There is a long stay car park at the ferry port that you can't pre-book, but there didn't seem to be any problem with spaces. We then got the morning ferry across to Dublin.
They let us peddle our bikes onto the ferry, and it certainly started to feel like we were on a proper adventure. When we docked they let us and the bikes off the ferry first with everyone sitting in their cars and lorries waiting for us to get off which did make me rather concerned I was going to fall off when I was on the ramp in front of everyone or just send my wheel into one of the rather large gaps on the ramp floor and break everything, but I managed to avoid disaster/making a fool of myself.
Once we had cycled out of the port, we found ourselves on the bridge over the river Liffey where there were people watching and filming rowing boats coming down the river. One man explained that it was a race between two local rowing clubs and it looked jolly hard work seen as they were going against the incoming tide and had no blades on their oars, so they were just rowing with long poles. The man who told us about the race also gave us directions for getting to Heuston station.
We met my friend at the station and there followed a very simple train journey. As a Sunday and a bank holiday weekend in England it would be rail replacement bus services, no ability to take your bike or if there were a train it would stop every three minutes, and you would be moving your bike out of everyone's way at each station. Instead, there was a clean, on time train with an entire carriage where you could lock your bike for the journey, and it was considerably cheaper than any English train journey I have been on. The train did go through lots of green countrysides which did seem to get progressively hillier while we were on board.
We got a bit confused getting out of Cork, but a man in a car must have decided we looked lost and pulled over and stopped to help us. I could understand about one word in three of what he was saying, but he did get us on the right road down towards Kinsale where we passed the sign for the start of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Being Ireland, it started to rain, but we had some long steady uphill's, some beautiful down hills with some stunning scenery for 30 miles to get us to our first B and B for the night. We arrived very soggy, very hungry and not sure where to get food as it was in the middle of nowhere at 8:45 pm. A very friendly dog met us and then the lady came out, offered to take us to the nearest restaurant in her car as long as we were quick, so she could get back in time for bridge club, gave us clean towels and apologised that they weren't matching (like we had even noticed let alone cared). A quick shower and she took us to the Pink Elephant which had lovely food, and with full bellies, we were asleep quickly that night, and I would happily recommend the Bridge View Farmhouse B and B.
To Be Continued….