Part 1: Winding Westwards
I spent the last 34 days bicycle touring through Ireland. Our soul aim for the entire tour was to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way and be back in England for a wedding.
People along the way often asked, ‘what do you think about whilst you cycle dawn till dusk?’ The answer inevitably varies depending on the holiday, this time around it was the best way of retelling the many adventures we were having in Ireland.
During those monotonous hours of peddling I decided that the best approach was to select the most interesting photos and simply tell the story. The first bit of which is arriving in Belfast and finding the Norman Way.
THE NORMAN WAY
The first part of the Irish cycle tour was more of an accidental decision than part of a deliberate route decision. We arrived in Rosslare and spotted signs for the Norman Way that were headed in generally the right direction. Following them led us past various ruined churches and castles. Our first night in Ireland was spent camping in one of the ruined churches along the route. We were overjoyed to find it as it was getting late and we were tired from the ferry.
The next night something happened that really proved that the Irish reputation of being nice is well earned. We were cycling along at gone 6pm aiming for a campsite that I had found on the map when a man in a land rover pulls up and asks where we’re headed. He looks bemused when we tell him and it quickly becomes clear that there aren’t any campsites for miles. He offers us a spot in his garden and by the end of the evening we’re chatting with the family in the sitting room. So the first rule of cycle touring I wrote in my notebook was:
‘Don’t be afraid to accept offers of help!’
The following day we headed onwards to Killarney National Park. Passing many peat bogs along the route. Peat is the primary heat source in Ireland. It is cut during a dry spell and then left in large stacks to dry, where it shrinks to half the size and hardens. It is then piled up near the houses, a week’s worth of cutting can last the household all winter.
KILLARNEY NATIONAL PARK
Killarney National Park is one of the most well-known beauty spots in Ireland. It includes a mountain range with a huge lake at its heart. There are many islands dotted around and Torc Waterfall feeds into it. In the evening we walked partially around the lake and enjoyed the sun setting over islands.
One of the most impressive ruins I’ve seen borders on the Killarney lake. It’s an old friary that has been well maintained and so possible to walk through all the rooms and explore the upper quarters.
In an inside courtyard grew a huge gnarled Yew Tree, stretching two floors up and overlooked by narrow windows.
And the following day we climbed up all morning and was welcomed by incredible views of the national park from the top.
The next stage of the journey is joining the Wild Atlantic Way and working our way upwards.