Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is the longest defined costal route in the world, streatching 2,500 from Donegal to County. After an off road weekend Wales, I set about tackling the rugged route from South to North. Here are just a few of the sights I enjoyed on the trip.
Kinsale and the southern coast
Kinsale marked the start of my Wild Atlantic Way trip, and whilst I imagine many simply pass through on their way to more spectacular sights, it’s a nice town in it’s own right.
The route hugs the coastline all along the souther part of Ireland. From peninsular to peninsular. It can be very slow going at times. I chose to cut out a few of the peninsulars and head onto the smaller country lanes.
I was told this is an ‘Irish dual carriageway.’
The weather for my trip was fabulous, with temperatures in the mind 20c for the most part. Apparently such good weather is practically unheard of. It made me want to stop at every beautiful little beach I came across, and there were few.
This is the most south westerly point on the Isle of Ireland, and the home of Mizen head suspension bridge and lighthouse. Having seen photos of the bridge previously, it was certainly something I wanted to experience for myself.
I wasn’t disappointed, the views were awesome, and I felt a similar sense of adventure to that I’d experienced in southern Chile. Almost like I was standing as the edge of the world. In this case it was only the edge of Ireland, but you can’t have it all. Just a shame you can’t ride across it.
Having been eaten to death by midges in Co. Cork, I decided to spend the night at a B&B in Kerry. That left plenty of time to ride the Ring of Kerry, but not enough to take the 3 hour boat trip out to Skellig St Michael. This is as close as I got.
I did however have fun in the mountain passes between Co. Cork and Kerry. The 950 was on song, and ate up the Healy Pass.
I mostly skipped passed Dingle. Some say it’s a must-see, others claim it’s overrated. I’d found that the scenery was starting to get repetitive. With that I crossed the Shannon estuary into Clare. This is where the really good stuff is.
Cliffs of Moher
40 miles from Galway (though still in Co. Clare), the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most awesome sights in Ireland. Raising 120 meters above the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs are Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction receiving over a million visitors per year, and although fully geared up for tourism, they retain all of their rugged natural beauty.
Once off the official site, the barriers disappear and you can get as close to the edge as you dare. It’s not for the faint of heart, and death by misadventure is not uncommon, especially given as there are often strong gusts. In addition, the shale & sandstone ledges that make up the cliffs will sometimes crumble without warning due to erosion, creating another danger.
I paid around €6 for motorcycle parking there, but if you’re on foot, you can view the cliffs for free, as they form part of a 20 km walking route that runs from Hags Head in the South to Doolin 7km north. I imagine it would be nice walk, I just didn’t have the time on this trip.
I discovered Doolin accidentally. I set my GPS to a campsite location I’d seen online previously. Unfortunately it was more of a caravan park, but almost directly opposite was a small hostel with camping in the garden. Not only was it close to the pub, but it was cheap, had good wifi, and provided free use of the washing machine.
Further down the road there’s a wild campsite closer to the rocks and sea. It looked pretty windswept, but offered up great views.
The spot above seemed like a great location for bouldering. I was temped to give it a go, but decided that off road motorcycle boots probably wouldn’t yield much grip.
Kylemore Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery on the grounds of the castle of the same name. It was founded as a monastery by a Belgian monks fleeing World War I.
Unfortunately it wasn’t open when arrived, but I was able to walk around the exterior and snap the image below.
Slieve League and County Donegal
Slieve League cliffs were fantastic and would make an excellent hike, but my favourite part was the ride up to them dodging sheep on the steep and narrow twisty track. Unfortunately it was incredibly misty when I reached the top, so I wasn’t quite able to get the photos I wanted. I still had fun walking around the cliff though.
Overall, County Donegal was probably my favourite area of the trip. It had an unspoiled charm about it, and picturesque scenes and landscapes stretching in every directions.