Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Archive for ‘July, 2022’

Coast to Coast Day 2

Belmullet and Broadhaven
Achill Island o'er the wave
Croagh Patrick's holy mountain
By the waters of Clew Bay
Clare Island, home of Granuaille
Old Newport well I know
All the friendly places on
The coastline of Mayo

From the song recorded by the Mulloy Brothers of Mulranny

View from my room in Mulranny

The weather forecast is for a heatwave but luckily this part of the country seldom experiences temperatures of that nature and this week was no exception. While the south east basked in 30 degree heat it was a much more normal summers day on the road from Mulranny to Belmullet, perfect for cycling and with a tail wind behind me I couldn’t have been happier!

The road cuts between the hills as it leaves Mulranny and the scenery opens up into wide vistas towards Wild Nephin National Park, one of the most remote areas in the country. It covers an immense 15,000 hectares of blanket bog and unspoiled wilderness. It’s magnificent. The whole Erris area likewise is rugged, remote, raw and a delight to cycle through. It wasn’t long until I reached the Mayo Gaeltacht just after passing through Bangor. It was back roads all the way into Belmullet and to be sure to get accommodation I booked a room right away on arrival, left my panniers off and headed out the Blacksod Bay.

Blacksod Bay is forever etched in my mind because of the awful loss of life of 4 crew members in the 2017 involving Irish Coastguard Rescue 116 when their helicopter clipped Blackrock island about 10kms off the coast. There was a fair wind in my face heading out across the flat barren peninsula of Erris – every pedal stroke had to be fought for and only the radio commentary of the All Ireland Hurling Final kept me from quitting! It was worth it though as its a lovely route out especially taking in the loop around by Teampail agus Leaba Dheirbhile. With a sister named Dearbhla I simply had to visit!

106kms done approx on day 2. Great day in the saddle!

Coast to Coast Day 1

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble.
And if I stay it will be double..

It’s Saturday morning, 16th July 2022 and we’ve a decision to make. This afternoon myself and Mary are booked on the train to Castlebar, heading for Blacksod Bay to cycle Coast to Coast from the West Coast of Mayo to Carlingford, County Louth. Mary tested positive for Covid on Friday and its impossible for her to do the cycle. Her Mam too has been under the weather but Patricia and Eleanor are on hand and manning the fort.

Go West. Life is peaceful there. Go west. Lots of open air.

With her blessing, I reluctantly pack my panniers and catch the Castlebar train, feeling guilty. Any regrets were dispelled when an elderly lady I got chatting to gave me three miraculous medals; one for the bike, one for Mary and one for her mother. It felt like a sign from above! Right decision.

Hats off to Irish Rail. Unbelievable value if tickets are bought online – two adults with two bikes cost just €28. Rail staff couldn’t have been more helpful and it really opened any eyes for future bike trips.

The plan was to get the bus from Castlebar to Belmullet and cycle out to start at Blacksod. But it was a grand evening, so instead of boarding, I cycled past and head for Newport and the Western Greenway! It was a perfect evening for cycling; the Greenway was deserted, I only met three other cyclists on it and had it all to myself. The views across the bay to Croagh Patrick are exceptional and the path is terrific, just wandering sheep to worry about – and clouds of biting flying ants!

Wasn’t long till my arms were covered in ants..

It was after 9pm when I reached tropical Mulranny and after three refusals, I was relieved to get a bed above Ciaran Moran’s pub, Moynish House. A good start. 38kms done to ease into it.

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