Journey across Ireland
From the historical city of Dublin, through the valleys around Enfield, lush Irish farmlands, narrow Irish roads to the Cliffs of Moher, WWII song town Tipperary, Galtee Mountains at Glen of Aherlow, beautiful small towns Cahir & Cashel, beer in Kilkenny, ruins at Castledermot and the final stretch back to Dublin… Ireland has been one of the most beautiful, scene and soul calming countries I have travelled across.
We ditched the motorways and took the smaller routes throughout Ireland and this decision made the experience through the beautiful country so much better. We got to see the “real Ireland” and for the 700km we cycled I was not bored for one second. The scenery was impressive and every single meter had something special to look at. At times it was difficult to stay on the narrow paths as my eyes were wandering through the valleys and landscapes. The roads are so narrow at times that you can touch the cows in their camps next to the road as you cycle!
Ireland is part of Europe, so yes, is was cold, cloudy and wet all the way! The temperatures varied between -3 and 11 and the roads were wet all the time. The days are much shorter than in Australia as the sun rise at about 8:30 and starts to set at about 16:30. This gives us eight hours to pack up, stretch, cycle, eat during the day, take photos, find camping spot and pitch the tents before the sun set. Since we started Ireland its been raining every night, meaning everything is wet and freezing in the mornings as you get ready to hit the road. The coldest night was -3, but what made it worse was that it was pouring during the night. So when we woke up the tents was frozen! Was quite funny until we had to pack up.
The shorter days, cold and wet weather is some of the biggest challenges we face and is something to quickly have to adjust and get use to. Climbing out of your warm sleeping bag, packing up and getting your day started is difficult in this weather. The tents are permanently wet as there is no sun and time to dry out during the day… Wet and damp equipment like socks, sleeping bag and clothing gets smelly… but don’t recognise it as much as we probably smell the same. Im experiencing the coldest temperatures just before the sun sets and this is the time we pitch our tents. There is usually a freezing freeze blowing over the valleys just before the sun sets.
The one thing that Im focussing on at the moment is getting my clothing sorted for when Im cycling. The problem is that you can’t dress too warm, because you start to sweat very quickly… and this means that you actually gets cold again as the freezing wind blows over the sweat. Being soaking in sweat is also not the best way to cycle in the winter. The challenge now is to sweat the least possible, or when you sweat have the correct clothing that keeps you the warmest at that moment. The temperature have a mayor influence on the clothing… and I mean only a few degrees. The most difficult temperatures to cycle in at the moment is between 4 – 8 degrees celsius.
The camping became quite interesting as there is not nearly as much places to pitch a tent as in Australia. So getting a camping space in Europe is more of a challenge and during the first week we found some interesting places to sleep… Old rugby field, soccer field (people was running on the path next to the field after we pitched our tents), primary school soccer field, right next to the beach, farming lands (was twice caught by farmers ) and then… a cemetery. The only reason for the cemetery was that it was already dark and was in a city and could not find any place else to sleep. Sometimes you are forced to do things that you don’t really want to do.
Bicycle… Still having problems with my back wheel. Our original plans was to cycle to the west and then back east towards Dublin, but the plans changed as we reached the west coast. We decided to cycle down to Rosslare (South-East Coast) and take a ferry over to Wales. This would have saved us 250km / 3days as we want to visit people in London and be at certain destinations for Christmas and New Years. The Rosslare plan changed again after I broke 3 spokes in less that 100km. So we had to return to Dublin to go back to the bicycle shop where my wheel was rebuild and hopefully fix this problem that I’ve been having throughout the journey.
Ireland also surprised us with two beautiful sun rises as we were approaching Dublin.
My food menu also changed since we’ve hit Ireland. I was starting to crave vegetables… or just anything than pasta and bread every night. Vegetables means that I need to cook, but in the winter this is perfect as you spend the majority of your day in the tent. So preparing a meal is a nice way to spend your time in the afternoon. Ulrich and I also decided to run two separate food budgets from Europe. We did this because this give both of us the freedom to make and buy the food you want. So if you want to buy something you really like, you have your budget to work with. It has been working out for the first two weeks in Europe.
The one place we did not do justice was The Cliffs of Moher. We got at the cliffs later than expected as we encountered a few hills the last 15km. When we arrived we had 30 minutes to take photos and at that moment I was freezing my ass off. The hills made us sweat more than normal and when we reached the cliffs, the 16:00 breeze was blowing, and it was difficult to concentrate, walk around and take good photos. There are walking paths all the way around the cliffs and I think you should at least spend two hours walking around.
My favourites in Ireland:
1 – Narrow road cycling through the green Irish Valleys
2 – Cliffs of Moher
3 – Cahir Castle
4 – Small towns with their Cathedrals, Churches, lakes, canals
5 – Views from top of the mountain of Glen of Aherlow & Galtee Mountains – The R664 just outside of Tipperary
6 – Drinking a Kilkenny draught in Kilkenny
7 – Ruins in Castledermot
8 – Overall navigation between all the small towns
9 – Rock dividers farms
10 – Dublin
11 – Chasing a cow down the narrow road near the Cliffs of Moher
Some Ireland Facts:
1 – 16 of 42 US presidents have Irish descent
2 – Population – 5.9 millions (4.2 in the republic and 1.7million in Northern Ireland)
3 – 10% of the country is foreign born
4 – Dublin is the biggest city with a population of 1.2 million – 40% of the total population
5 – My favourite Music albums : U2, Damien Rice, Van Morrison (Brown Eyed Girl), Fairytale of New York
6 – Drinks – Stout (Guinness, Murphy’s & Beamish), Other Beers (Beamish Red Ale, Caffrey Irish Ale, Kaliber and Smithwicks), Whiskey (Jameson’s, Bushmills & Cilley’s), Irish Coffee and Poitin
There is some things that I would still like to have done in Ireland but I truly believe that I will be returning one day to experience some of the other things that I did not do this time around.
I would recommend Ireland to anyone that likes nature, history and historic buildings…. and off coarse the stouts and Ale’s 😉