The West coast of Ireland is great for cycling. The coastal scenery is spectacular and the roads are quiet. This circular route takes the ??? peninsula just south of Clifden. It's worth noting the wind direction before starting out, as it can often be quite breezy and a bit of advance planning will minimize the distance you are peddling into the wind. This was to be a family ride.
We parked in a layby just outside Ballyconneely, but there are numerous parking places all around the route. In fact you could easily start from Clifden. We decided to cycle anti-clockwise, which meant that on the day the first part of the ride was into the wind. As is often the case in Ireland, the weather was fickle and there were frequent sharp showers. We had planned to stop at one of the beaches before we reached Roundstone, but decided to press on. Shortly before Roundstone there is a bit of an ascent, followed by a nice long descent to the beach at Gurteen Bay.
The girls were getting fed up of peddling into the wind and getting soaked on a regular basis. We agreed that they would stop in Roundstone and I would continue around the rest of the loop and fetch the car. I set off only pausing in Roundstone to buy some chocolate. The town is in idyllic spot next to the sea.
I thought that the section of the ride from Roundstone was the highlight. After following the road along the coast you take a left turn and climb up over the moors of Roundstone Bog. There are great views of the Twelve Bens to the North. The ground either side of the road is very boggy and there are hundreds of small pools. This section of the ride is very exposed and wouldn't be a good place to be in really bad weather. The wind was now behind me, which only increased my enjoyment of this section of the ride.
Soon I reached the junction with the main road from Clifden. Shortly after you rejoin the road, you can follow a track up to the left, which takes you to the Alcock and Brown landing site. THey were the first people to fly over the Atlantic and given the nature of the terrain it's amazing that they weren't killed on landing. The track takes you up to the site of the old Marconi radio station and a large concrete obelisk commemorating the flight. The actual landing site is about 500m from the obelisk. If you want to visit it, be prepared for some bog trotting and wet feet.
I cycled back along the track to rejoin the main road and was soon back at Ballyconneely. By the time I had driven over to Roundstone the girls had set off and I caught up with them just as they turned off to Roundstone Bog.