Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Wild Atlantic Way by motorcycle: Look right, stay left, watch out for the bends, mind the sheep and mountain goats, and don't forget about the cattle crossing!

When we picked up the BMW from Celtic Rider, Paul reminded everyone to always "look right and stay left" as we learned to ride on the 'opposite' side of the road. Today Mike kept that in mind, as he also dealt with sweepers and 'bends', or as we would call them 'twisties' riding up, over, and through mountain ranges in southwestern Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way that winds up the southwestern coast of Ireland.

Wayne and Colleen on the Healy Mountain Pass

Then there were the sheep - hundreds of sheep on the hillsides, high up the sheer rock walls of the mountains, and often standing in the middle of the road or voraciously eating leaves.

At one point earlier in the day, all traffic came to a halt as a family herded their cows across the narrow lane. Toward the end of our ride, a black mountain goat calmly sauntered across the road, again stopping traffic in both directions. He lives there, we're visitors, and he's obviously in charge.

Our day started with brilliant blue skies and sunshine, a comparative rarity in cloudy and rainy Ireland. We waved good-bye to Grianne, our host at the Desmond House in Kinsale after enjoying a stupendous breakfast prepared by herself and her husband, Paddy. 

Our first stop was Charles Fort, just outside Kinsale. Completed in 1682, it was built on the site of an earlier fort. The star-shaped fort is designed to repel cannon attack, and it occupies a high point on the harbor to defend the town from the sea.

Our route today took us on normal-size 2-lane highways, narrow 2-lane roadways, even more narrow side roads, and every now and then a lane with grass growing down the middle - my very favorite Irish road.

Along the route we stopped at the Dromberg Stone Circle, a circle of 7 standing stones with an urn burial in the center, established between 153 and 127 AD.

We stopped in Glandore, a small town in County Cork on the ocean, where we sat outside to enjoy our lunch and watched children in the sailing school take an ice cream break.

After lunch we rode through Baltimore, a harbor town raided by pirates in 1631 who sold the townspeople into slavery. The town plays up this history in a variety of ways, including a 'pirate' climbing the church wall.

We kept heading north into the Beara Peninsula, one of 5 peninsulas in this part of Ireland. We rode on narrow lanes with hedgerows so close to the side of the road that at times my knees were brushing the bushes on my left.

Then it was up and over the Healy Pass through the Caha Mountains, where we first encountered the sheep.

We continued on N71 into Kenmare, the start of the Ring of Kerry on the Iveragh Peninsula. N71 on this stretch goes through Moll's Gap with views of Ireland's highest mountain range, the Macgillycuddy's Reeks, the Black Valley, and lakes around Killarney, our stop for the next 2 nights.

We rode 150 miles over 7 hours through some of the most beautiful country and fun motorcycle roads we've ever been on. Tomorrow we complete the Ring of Kerry, riding along the Atlantic coast. 

1 comment:

  1. Stunning scenery.

    It must be difficult to stay on the "wrong" side of the road. Looks like a fabulous time though.