Rathanna is an ideal stopping off point for hikers and cyclists sampling the delights of Carlow. Osborne’s Storehouse hostel is well located at the heart of South Carlow.
For a small county we have quite a diverse mix of terrain and for day 3 of my cycle around the county that meant a stiff climb as I crossed over Mount Leinster at the Nine Stones.
A tail wind alleviated the physical challenge of the 5kms climb. Showers failed to dampen the spirit and massive cloud formations are very atmospheric in the mountains.
I love the view from Tomduff Cross back across to Rathanna and along the ridge of the Blackstairs towards St Mullins. The patchwork of fields, of forty shades of green, is one of the great sights in Carlow.
I met a Rangers man speeding down from the top on his racer, as I struggled upwards and was glad of the opportunity to stop and chat about times past!
With the wind blowing and low cloud the view at the Nine Stones out over Cúl na Sneachta was more like winter than August. I was glad to head down hill though though it was hard to steer the bike with a savage cross wind taking hold of the front wheel as I headed past the source of the River Burren. I took a right turn towards Bunclody and went off road at Kilbrannish, part of the South Leinster Way. I love to take the road less travelled whenever possible to avoid traffic. The path is stony but easy cycle over and it’s just under 5kms until it rejoins a small side road that takes you into Kildavin.
Clonegal is the next village, 4kms away. Often described as the Switzerland of Ireland! It’s a fascinating place to visit and stay, a real hidden gem. The village is always pristine and decked out in colourful floral displays. Lots to see there too such as Huntington Castle, The Weavers Cottages and there are many historical features signposted and worth exploring. The Wicklow Way (131 kms) officially ends here and the South Leinster Way (104 kms) begins. Both are long distance walking trails which joined together provide hikers with a path from Dublin all the way to Carrick On Suir.