A fully supported cycling holiday along the enchanting Irish Atlantic coastline
The west of Ireland, the Wild Atlantic Way, An Gaeltacht; these are words and phrases to stir the imagination. The Wild Atlantic Way – Way South tour travels through landscape and country forged and shaped by the incessant advance of the Atlantic Ocean, it's wild and wonderful, untamed and homely, and you are greated by the warm welcome that only the west knows how to offer.
|DAYS / NIGHTS||AVG DAILY MILEAGE||COST||COST|
It begins in Mizen Head, the most southerly point in Ireland and follows the coast along its winding path up the country to Dingle, or An Daingean as it is known in Gaelic. It passes through places, towns and villages immortalised in song and story such as Bantry, Castletown-Bere, Kenmare and Valentia Island; places that are synonymous with Irish culture, language, music and food. The landscape is spectacular, rugged and beautiful in equal measures.
This bespoke supported tour is 387 kilometers/ 240 miles long and can be booked between four days cycling and however many days you wish, a four day tour would average around 100km/60 miles per day, while an eight day tour would average around 50km/30 miles per day. The supported tour includes bed and breakfast, a support vehicle which leap frogs you throughout the day, the support vechile - which is always a phone call away - will also carry some spare parts, snacks, fruit, tea, coffee and water for you to have at your convenience, daily luggage transfers, daily briefing on route and what to expect, maps, and transportation back to the start of the tour if required. The tour is flexible and can be amended to fit a group's wishes and requirements.
Example Six Day Tour
|DAY 1||Mizen Head - Bantry||72 Km|
|DAY 2||Bantry - Castletownbere||50 Km|
|DAY 3||Castletownbere - Kenmare||71 Km|
|DAY 4||Kenmare - Waterville||61 Km|
|DAY 5||Waterville - Glenbigh||68 Km|
|DAY 6||Glenbigh - Dingle||65 Km|
Starting off the tour in Mizen Head, at the same point hundreds of thousands of people said goodbye to Europe for the last time as they made their way by ship to the new world and a new life, on the south-eastern most tip of Ireland and on the transatlantic shipping line. It is here at the signal station that you begin your tour up the west coast, around Sheep's head, the Beara peninsula, the Ring of Kerry and on to Dingle on the Dingle peninsula.
We set off cycling through the pretty hamlets and villages of Barleycoveand Goleenfollowing the coast up to Durrus, a picture postcard village. From Durrusyou jump onto Sheep's Head, a peaceful and unspoilt peninsula, and follow the Sheep's Head Way around this narrow peninsula where you are never far from the Atlantic. The roads are very quiet and the villages are typical of the west of Ireland, picturesque villages hanging on to the edge of Europe. After heading back up the peninsula, with the Atlantic to our left you enter the ancient and beautiful Bantry Bay surrounding the charming Bantrytown.
Leaving Bantry sees you heading down the magnificent Beara peninsula and your first day on the Ring of Beara. You first head north past the gorgeous villages of Ballylickeyand Glengariff, gateway to the Beara peninsula. The peninsula itself was named after a Spanish princess, Princess Beara, and there is also a spanish consulate in the fishing village of Castletownbere. It has the largest waterfall and the oldest found stone-writing in Ireland and legend has it that the Children of Lir were buried in Allihies. It is also divided into Cork and Kerry, fierce local rivals in Gaelic Football in an area very proud of their footballers. Leaving Glengariff you head down the southern end of the Beara peninsula cutting through the natural heritage area of Leahill Bog on the way to Adrigole. Continuing down the peninsula, the wonderful landscape continues as you travel down to Castletownbere, a wonderful fishing port looking out onto Bere Island and one of the furthest western villages in County Cork.
Leaving Castletownbere as you head towards the edge of the Peninsula, and the villages of Allihies and Eyeries, and the absolutely stunning coastal road in between. After Allihies and Eyeries you start heading back up the northern part of the peninsula before crossing into County Kerry and into Lauragg, the town about midway between Castletownbere and Kenmare. You cut inland before coming back to the coast and to Kenmare bay which you hug until you get to Kenmare. Kenmare is known for its outstanding cuisine and its breathtaking scenery, its name in Irish is Nedin which means little nest, and it's an apt name as it nestles between Killarney National Park to the north, the Beara peninsula to the south, Kenmare Bay and the Ring of Kerry to the west, and the Roughty river draining into Kenmare Bay coming from the east. From Kenmare you head west again and onto the equally famous Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a 180km route which circles the Iveragh peninsula via Killarney and Kenmare. It is 180km of rugged dramatic landscapes. As you travel down the peninsula you hug the coast as much as possible passing through forests and woods, passing over rivers and streams, all shadowed by mountains and surrounded by the Atlantic. The views around here are absolutely stunning, views that make us all master photographers. You cycle onto the aptly named Watervillewhich is situated on a narrow isthmus, surrounded by the Atlantic to the west, with loughs and rivers to the south, east and north, looking out onto Ballinskelligs Bay. It's also a town that was visited by the Charlie Chaplin family every year for about 10 years and which now hosts The Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival.
Leaving Waterville we enter into one of the Gaeltacht areas, where Irish is still the main spoken language. The first townland we enter is Ballinskellig or Baile 'n Scelig as the signposts say. Just off the coast of Ballinskelligsare the wonderous Skellig Islands, Skellig Michaelwhich harbours an ancient monastic colony, and leaves anybody who is lucky enough to set foot on it wonderstruck and amazed, while Little Skellighas the worlds second largest Northern-Gannet colony with almost 30000 pairs. They are also home to colonies of puffins which bed down on these two rocks during the spring and early summer. You continue north around the Bolus Head on the Skelligs' ring to Portmagee, a village facing Valentia Island. You cross the causeway connecting the island and the mainland. Valentia Island is part of telecommunications history as it is the site of the east terminus of the first permanent telecommunications link between Europe and the Americas – it ran from Heart's Content, Newfoundland to Foilhommerum Bayand it ran for 100 years from 1866 to 1966. You head north-east across the island to its main village, Knightstown, where you catch the ferry back to the mainland and onto Cahersiveen, the principal town on the Iveragh peninsula. You continue your way north-east on the Ring of Kerry with Dingle Bay on our left with Dingle peninsula and Slea Head on the other side of the bay looking back at you. A few kilometres you turn inland until you get to Glenbigh, a little village surrounded by a horseshoe of hills and mountains, and with the marvellous RossbeighBeach adjacent to it.
Leaving Glenbigh you continue on your trajectory, crossing the river Caragh which drains from Lough Caragh, into the Dingle Bay. Continuing along the Ring we pass through Killorglin, a popular town for salmon and trout fishing on the beautiful River Luane, and famous for one of Ireland's oldest festivals – Puck Fair - where a goat is crowned king of the festival. From Killorglin you travel to Castlemaine, a small town famous for being the town of Jack Duggan from the song 'The Wild Colonial Boy'. It is on the River Maine, with Tralee and the Slieve Mish Mountains to the North and the Dingle Peninsula to the west. From here you jump on the Dingle peninsula, following it down the coastal road past the villages and beaches of flybagh and Inch and up to the village of Annascaul. Annascaul was the home to one of the true heroes of exploration, discovery and adventure, not only here in Ireland but also worldwide: Tom Crean, a quietly spoken kerryman who served on three major expeditions to Antarctica including two with Captain Scott and Ernest Shackelton's 'Endurance'. He was also a member of the three man crew who miraculously made a successful 800 mile nautical journey in an open boat across some of the worlds most dangerous waters, before crossing South Georgia on foot to seek aid for their stranded party. A gripping story of adventure and 'endurance'. He opened a pub on return from his travels which he called the South Pole Inn, and it is still open today. From Annascaul you follow local roads for 17km to the magnificent town of Dingleand here you can spend your final night night celebrating a cycling adventure to remember.