The Grand and Glorious Glendalough Monastic site: Step into history

Nestled in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains is the iconic Glendalough Monastic site which is steeped in ancient history and dramatic beauty that you will remember for a lifetime. The Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough Monastic site is the first stop on our impressive Emerald all Ireland 15 day walking tour. After leaving Dublin, you will travel through the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains to our first stop at Glendalough ancient monastic site about 1hr fron Dublin. Glendalough and its surrounding mountains is a magic place and perfect for our first walk which will be about three hours around the valley, you will come back to relax at our comfortable guest house. This blog will give you an insight into al the history behind this Majestic famous Irish site, along with some information about the surrounding mountain and towns.

Glendalough lake

Glendalough, or the Glen of two Lakes, is one of the most important sites of monastic ruins in Ireland. It is also known as the city of the seven Churches. Fourteen centuries have passed since the death of its founder, St. Kevin, when the valley was part of Ireland’s Golden Age. The ‘City’ consists of a number of monastic remains, and the most impressive being the Round Tower which stands 30m high. The main group of monastic buildings lies downstream near the Round Tower. The grounds were entered through the Gateway, which has two round headed granite arches.Beyond St. Mary’s Church is the Priest’s House, a 12th Century building in Romanesque style, with an interesting carving of a much earlier date on the lintel of the doorway.Just beyond the Priest’s House is a large granite cross (sixth or seventh century) and the “Cathedral”, the largest church on the site, with a nave, chancel and sacristy, and St Kevin’s Church. St Kevin’s Church is commonly known as St Kevin’s Kitchen. This is a barrel-vaulted oratory of hard mica schist with a steeply pitched roof and a round tower belfry (12th C).Approx 200m east of the Church of the Rock is a cavity in the cliff which is known as St Kevin’s Bed or Hermitage. At the Glendalough site on the road to Laragh, to the right, stands Trinity Church (11th-12th C). Beyond the river about 1.5km to the east of the Cathedral is St. Saviour’s Priory a church with fine Romanesque carvings on the chancel arch and windows.

Glendalough monastery

The remains of an old stone fort and three stone crosses can be found between the Upper and Lower Lake, and beside the Lower Lake another cross; all four are stations on the pilgrimage route at Glendalough. Near a small bridge by St Kevin’s Bed stands Reefert Church.

The two lakes, which gave the valley its name, came into existence thousands of years ago, after the Ice Age, when great deposits of earth and stone were strewn across the valley in the area where the Round Tower now exists. The mountain streams eventually formed a large lake. The Pollanass River spread alluvial deposits across the centre of the lake and created a divide to form the Upper and Lower Lakes. The Glenealo River flows in from the West into the Upper Lake which is the larger and deepest of the two lakes. Before the arrival of St. Kevin this valley (glen) would have been desolate and remote. It must have been ideal for St Kevin as a retreat and area to be ‘away from it all’. Kevin died in 617 A.D. at the age of 120 years and his name and life’s work is forever entwine with the ruins and the Glendalough Valley.

glendalough

The most famous person associated with this site is St. Kevin. There are many legends surrounding him and his legacy. The monastery was set up in the 6th century by St. Kevin. Kevin was born in 498 into a noble family living in what is now West Wicklow. He studied for the priesthood in Cill na Manach and after being ordained set out to find his calling. Kevin came to Glendalough to follow his dream which was to find God in solitude and prayer. Kevin wanted full solitude to be closer to god and his prayers so he found a cave away from all civilisations. St. Kevin’s Bed can best be described as a man-made cave cut in the rock face a short distance east of the Church of the Rock. It is very close to the edge of the mountain and it overlooks the upper lake from a height of about 30 odd feet (10 metres). It should not be confused with St. Kevin’s Cell which occupies a site further east. The approach to the cave is very difficult, with access to it is through a rectangular space and a short passageway 3 ft. (1 metre) high and 2½ ft. wide. The inner or main part of the cave is just 4 ft. wide (1.5 metres) and less than 3 ft.(1 metre) high. It is reasonable to assume that the cave could only have been used as a sleeping place, and would have been impossible for an adult to stand upright in it, so it is quite likely that St Kevin only used it as his bed, or a place for pious prayer or meditation. It is not accessible in modern times, as there is barely any path and one would have to scale the mountain above the dark waters of the upper lake to get to it.

Glendalough cross

Along with being a holy site, Glendalough National park offers a mix of natural, historical, archaeological and spiritual riches. The valley is situated in Wicklow Mountains National Park which is home to forests, mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Magnificent scenery abounds. Many and varied walking trails can be found to suit all levels of agility. Wherever one looks, beautiful views meet the eye, evoking a sense of peace, tranquillity and wonder. The valley is also a haven for wildlife and their habitats, flora and fauna. Nature conservation and ecological protection are provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The geological heritage of Glendalough is highlighted by the remains of two mines found in the Glendalough valley and in the adjacent valley of Glendeasan. Lead, zinc and silver are among the materials mined over a period stretching from the 1790s to 1957. There are many roads and walking trails that wind around the national park from the upper lake, to the lower lake and up to the Spinke, there is a walk for all. Each of the lakes offers spectacular views. Its dark brown waters reflect the dramatic mountains that enclose this valley. Visit the relics, high crosses, ancient churches and high tower that Glendalough is known for. Have a wander around the grounds and take in some the most beautifully natural sites in Ireland.

small-051017CH153

Surrounding this Monastic site is the remote and desolate landscape of the rolling Wicklow Mountains. The mountains surround you as you look upon this land. Complete with colourful heather on the hills. The highest peak in the range, Lugnaquilla (924m), is really more of a very large hill, but that hardly matters here. This vast granite intrusion, an upwelling of molten rock that solidified some 400 million years ago, was shaped during the ice ages into the schist-capped mountains visible today. The peaks are marvellously desolate and as raw as only nature can be. Between the mountains are a number of deep glacial valleys – most notably Glenmacnass, Glenmalure and Glendalough – while corrie lakes such as Lough Bray Upper and Lower, and Lough Tay, gouged by ice at the head of the glaciers, complete the wild topography.

lakes of Glendalough

The closest town to this site is the small community of Laragh. Here is where you will be staying over the first night and eating out. This little town has a small array of pubs and restaurants, along with a convenience shop. All you need for a small town in Wicklow. If nature and history is for you then Glendalough is the perfect setting for a walk and an explore! Book your all Ireland Emerald tour  with extreme Ireland to explore many important sites in Ireland that will really impress! From historical sites, to the rugged Irish coast, this tour is waiting for you! Join the adventure today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Enjoy a Guided tour of Dingle Whiskey Distillery on the Wild Atlantic Way 12 day tour

The Wild Atlantic Way tour will take you along Ireland’s west coast from West Cork in the South to Donegal in the North. The Wild Atlantic Way Tour is a soft adventure tour which will take you on walking trails to some of the country’s most spectacular vistas and dramatic coastlines. Not only this but you will also have the opportunity to experience some of the best outdoor adventure pursuits such as ‘SUP’ which means Stand Up Paddling; surfing; kayaking and much more, including the Dingle Whiskey Distillery which is famed for its hospitality they pride themselves on an excellent tour that brings you into the heart of the distillery.

dingleDistillery
Right in the heart of this quaint little town lays the distillery. The Dingle peninsula was once cited as the most beautiful place on earth by the National Geographic Society and voted among the top 100 destinations in the world by Trip Advisor. No better place to be shown the secrets of whiskey making and have the chance to sample a few tipples looking out upon the delightful dingle coast. The small town can be described as a cute, colourful cosmopolitan village that have some of the friendliest people in Kerry. You’ll be in good hands!

founders
The Dingle Whiskey Distillery was crafted and conceived by three independent spirits: Oliver Hughes; Liam LaHart and Peter Mosley. They started out with simple craft beers but wanted to find something more. As they got more experienced to the taste of Earth’s natural ingredients, the attention turned to whiskey and away from craft beer. The Dingle Whiskey Distillery came into being in the winter of 2012. They have always had quality over quantity at the forefront of our thought; they aren’t passionate about bland spirit. They are definitely hugely passionate about flavoursome, well-crafted spirit.
So how is Whiskey Made? First of all the barley must undergo germination and this first part of the process is called malting, the barley needs to have a good percentage of sugar to work properly. After germination it has to be halted quickly and the barely is heated and smoked usually with peat, the amount of smoke used and where it comes from depends on what type of whiskey is being produced. It is ground and then the mashing process begins, this is when the mashed barley is mixed with warm water to extract its sugars. The water used in this process is important to the nature of the whiskey due to the minerals in certain waters. Water can be filtered through granite, marble, peat or other rocks and this determines the type of whiskey. This now malted barley is called ‘wort’
The cooled ‘wort’ is then transported into large tanks for the fermentation process to start; yeast is added in this stage. The yeast turns the sugars that are present into alcohol. As with the barley and water, the distiller will carefully select the strain of yeast that they use and it can also have a small effect on the final flavour of the spirit. The fermentation normally takes around 48 hours to run its natural course. Next they distil the liquid; usually Irish whiskey is distilled 3 times. The liquid is put into copper stills. The liquid is heated and then it evaporates and rises up the still until it reaches the neck, where it condenses. This liquid is called ‘low wines’. The low wines are passed to the second smaller still, called the spirit still. In the spirit still, the alcohol produced is split into three. The middle liquid called ‘the heart’ is the one that is kept and bottled for the maturing process. This ‘heart’ has an alcoholic strength of 65-70% ABV.
The spirit is put into oak casks and stored for at least 3 years to become ‘whiskey’. This process is done because the whiskey needs to develop its unique flavour over time in the oak that surrounds it. These casks are porous and so the environment in which they are stored is also helpful to the flavours. So if the whiskey is stored beside the sea, in the highlands or in places of heat/cold these environments give the whiskey its unique characteristics. The type of whiskey depends on the flavours and depth it develops in the maturing process. Dingle Whiskey has a most unique flavour. Their very special stills are a key part of the Dingle Story. They take the best Irish malted barley and make pure pot still malt whiskey. Then they put it in casks and let the mild, moist, unique Dingle air do the rest. No whiskey in Scotland or Ireland experiences a maturation process like that.
The distillery will also give you some background on a fresh Irish Dingle gin and luxurious Dingle vodka! The gin has won many awards and is one of the most delicious Irish gins on the market! They use botanicals like: rowan berry from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather for a taste of the Kerry landscape. Perfect with a refreshing tonic, ice cubes, aromatic juniper berries and a squeeze of zesty orange. Their vodka is distilled 5 times to really create the finest, purest, grain alcohol with a touch of sweetness and a creamy texture. So good it can be drunk neat!

dinglewhiskey
This is an experience you won’t forget in the perfect setting of the seaside town of Dingle. Learn about the deep history (and flavours) of Irish whiskey as you get a guided tour around the interactive distillery. Whiskey tasting is definitely recommended. What better way to experience the essence of Ireland then to experience Irish whiskey itself! Join us on the Wild Atlantic Way 12 day tour to get your fully guided tour of this incredible distillery.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Explore The Dolomites

The Dolomites are located in north-east Italy close to the Austrian border. The village of Wolkenstein where our group will have accommodation during the tour is the perfect location to access the most amazing hikes from a 360 degree stand point. You would be excused if you thought that the village was in Germany. You’ll find that the locals are German, the road signs, architecture, beer and everything around you is German. The Dolomite mountain range is nothing short of remarkable. The rock formations are jagged and high which presents spectacular vistas at every corner. Much of the lower lands are covered with alpine covered hills and wonderfully picturesque mountain villages.
We Take our Clients on a 7 day adventure Hiking one of the most spectacular areas in Europe. The Dolomites is perfectly set up to meet the needs of the walker with different levels of difficulty to suit. Our Guides are vastly experienced and we have a working knowledge of the area.

dolomites

Meet your guides

KEITH McDONNELL : The very experienced Keith McDonnell has been guiding international adventures for many years. Originally from Co. Meath, Keith is a true modern day explorer with many exciting expeditions under his belt including a traverse of South Georgia island in the Antarctic and summiting one of the highest mountains in the world; Aconcagua in Argentina. Keith holds an international mountain leader licence and is a regular visitor to the Italian Dolomites so you’ll be in safe hands.
STEPHEN POWER : A native of Waterford, Stephen is a well seasoned adventurer spending three years exploring the globe solo including Africa, Asia and the Americas. With a love of mountaineering he has reached the summits of Mount Blanc, Grand Paradiso in the Italian Alps and an active volcano; Mount Damavand in Iran. Stephen has spent time hiking the Dolomites and is looking forward to hiking there once again with your group.
TONY CORCORAN : Tony is one of Extreme Ireland Adventures prized guides. From our smallest neighbouring island, the Isle of Man this true Celt is a lover of music and anything outdoors. Tony has hiked far and wide around this planet and the Dolomites has to be one of his favourites. A group leader for many years with vast experience and knowledge, Tony will be there to help you with any issue, big or small while on tour.
For more details download our pdf 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Dublin’s Premier Greenspace: Phoenix Park

All of our day tours begin & end in Dublin so we have decided to tell you a little bit about its largest park. Dublin’s largest park also happens to be the largest urban park in Europe! Established in 1662 at 707 hectares the Phoenix Park was originally supposed to be a royal deer park. However the park went on to play many roles.

The park contains the official home of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin. This was built way back in 1750. It is right beside the United States Ambassador’s residence, which was built in 1774. The Park features numerous walking and cycling trails and is open all year round. About 30% of the park is covered in trees. This makes it a safe home for many animals and a wide range of habitats are in the park.

Wellington Monument

This park has also seen some historic visits including Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979. Right after the Pope arrived he took a helicopter straight to the park where he gave mass to 1,250,000 people. Today the spot that he performed the mass in is marked by a Papal Cross. The cross is 35 metres tall and can’t be missed.

Other notable attractions in the park include Dublin Zoo. The Zoo is one of Dublin’s main attractions and is the biggest in Ireland. It opened in 1931 making it the 3rd oldest zoo in the world! The zoo houses over 700 animals and tropical birds from around the word.

Finally the Wellington Testimonial is well worth a look. The obelisk is 62 metres tall and commemorates the victory of The Duke of Wellington. It is the largest obelisk in Europe and would be even higher if the public funding had not run out.

As you can see there is plenty to do so make sure you swing by!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Historic Attractions in Dublin

All of our day tours begin and end in Dublin so we have put together a list of some of the best historic attractions for you to explore once you have finished with us!

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle remains one of the most important buildings in Dublin as it is host to a range of government buildings. The castle used to be the administrative centre for the British government in Ireland. Today it remains an architectural beauty and a must see if you are in Dublin.

Dublin Castle

The G.P.O

Dublin’s general post office played a major role in the 1916 rising. Today it is one of the city’s most recognisable buildings. The building was used as the headquarters for the rebels during the rising. It is also the location of the first reading of the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland by Padraig Pearse.

St Stephens Green

It’s hard to believe it now but this beautiful city centre park was once used as a base of the Irish Citizens Army. Unfortunately for the Irish a park was not the best place to set up headquarters especially when it was surrounded by tall buildings. The British quickly took over the Shelbourne Hotel which overlooked the park. This gave them a perfect aim on the Irish & bullet holes can still be seen on the arch at the entrance of the park.

St. Stephen's Green

Kilmainham Gaol

This former prison was built in 1796 and closed its doors in 1924. Many members of the Irish Republican movement during the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21) were also detained in Kilmainham Gaol, guarded by British troops. In fact 14 of the 16 Irish soldiers who were executed by British Forces were shot inside the jail. Today the jail functions as a museum which serves to educate visitors of the plight of the Irish revolutionaries.

Kilmainham Gaol

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Blarney Castle: More than a Stone!

Blarney Castle is mainly known for its famous Blarney Stone which is said to grant the gift of the gab to whoever kisses it. The stone often overshadows the other things that can be done at the castle & the line for the stone can be pretty long. With this in mind we have decided to highlight some of the other things that can be done besides waiting in line.

Blarney Castle 1

  1. The Dungeon

Beneath the castle lies a maze of underground passages and chambers dating from various periods in the castle’s history. Although the dungeon is mostly inaccessible nowadays you can still see the chambers where the castle’s prisoners would have been held.

Blarney Dungeon

  1. Wishing Steps

These limestone steps are said to grant wishes if you can perform a certain ritual on them. Apparently if you can walk up and down the steps with your eyes closed whilst only thinking of your wish it will be granted within a year. If you are superstitious enough to try this be careful as the steps can be slippery!

Blarney wishing steps

  1. The North Wall

Blarney Castle sits directly on top of an eight-metre cliff of rock. This rock was used to build the castle. From the North wall you can see exactly how the castle was built in two stages with the right hand part being a tall thin wall. You can also see 3 holes that were used when the maids would have emptied the chamber pots.

  1. The Lake

This lake was once nearly drained by one of the ancestors of the current owner. Why you ask? Well rumour has it that the treasure of the MacCarthys was thrown into the lake but so far nobody has found it.

Blarney Lake

  1. The Gardens

Last but certainly not least is the Blarney Castle Gardens. These gardens bring you on a journey through diverse surroundings.  There are over 60 acres of land featuring gardens, avenues and waterways. They even contain one of the few poison gardens in Ireland where you can look but not touch!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Killary Fjord Cruise

Killary Fjord is located in the heart of Connemara and it is one of the three glacial fjords in all of Ireland! Once you board the Killary Fjord cruise ship, you will enter a dining area. Sit back and relax as you cruise down the fjord with a warm meal and a drink. Savor the freshest fish and shellfish from the clear water on the fjord. If you are not into seafood, enjoy a crisp salad or a handmade sandwich. The crew will not only accommodate you they will tell you all they can about the wildlife and facts about the fjord, they will also make your choice of drinks from a deep dark Guinness to spirits and even coffees. Take in scenery from the surrounding landscapes, from mountains peaks and green plains to the deep sea while enjoying a brief meal.

Killary Fjord Cruise

After your meal, look out to either side of the ship and see the majestic mountains surrounding the fjord and sheep dotting the green plains. The location of the fjord creates a natural border between Mayo and Galway, and the location also provides a safe haven for a variety bird species such as barnacle goose, ringed plover, tufted duck, mallard duck, mute swan, whooper swan, and even otters and dolphins. If you get lucky, you might have a chance to see dolphins emerge towards the mouth of the fjord! Furthermore, the depth of 45 meters and the mountains in the north and south, create a perfect habitat to farm mussels and catch salmon. You will have a chance to see ropes at several points on the fjord and circular salmon farms. This fjord is teeming with wildlife and fresh ingredients for local farmers to sell around the area. These 16 kilometers is simply a sanctuary for wildlife and you will be in awe of the dramatic scenery.

Killary Fjord Cruise

This cruise is one to remember as you will have a chance to see the incredible panoramic view of the mountains, various wildlife, and ocean life in the same location. Come on the Connemara tour to experience a sight you might never forget!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Galway City – A vibrant but intimate city

Visit the beautiful Galway city on our Connemara day tour!

Once you arrive in Galway’s City Center, you will have roughly over an hour to explore this beautifully intimate city. Flags from every country in the world were hung, zigzagging the streets above the heads of locals, and tourist. Shrubbery and flower pots were hanging off window ledges adding a certain artisan feel to the yellow, red, blue, and green buildings. Back on the ground, hundreds of people were making their way through the street, passing various street performers dancing on cardboard to singers serenading to onlookers and to people eating fire while juggling knives.

Galway City

Galway is a city that houses many hidden gems with its vibrant buildings, and festival-like decorations. When I visited this city, I casually walked down the street and embracing the unique atmosphere it gives off, and made my way to eat at a small pub in a corner of the street called Tig Coili. The food and drink were amazing, and they played live Irish music at almost all times of the day. My only regret was that I was not able to go to every pub! Although, I did get a chance to walk to South Park.

South Park is a short walk through the city center. It is an open field by the ocean where you can walk along the coast or the pier, take pictures of the view, or even sit on a bench and look out into the sea. I would recommend going there to sit by the coastline and if you have not eaten, it is a perfect place to have a nice picnic. The park is also close to a quaint museum you can visit in the short time you are here. However, due to the time restraint, you might only be able to do one or two things before you will need to head back to the bus.

If you want to experience a cruise along the Killary Fjord, visit Kylemore, and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Galway, book a ticket and anticipate a fulfilling day brimming with adventure.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is a historic destination of romance, grandeur and breath-taking beauty. It’s no wonder it’s one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions. The lakeside castle sits in splendid isolation on the edge of Connemara National Park. It’s only an hour drive from Galway, so there’s no excuse to deny yourself the magnificence of Kylemore and the savage beauty of Connemara!
The castle came to pass when Mitchell and Margaret Henry travelled to the Connemara region on their honeymoon from England in 1850. They quickly fell in love with the untouched beauty of Connemara, mesmerised by rugged mountains and rich meadowlands. After inheriting a fortune, Mitchell bought Kylemore Lodge and begun building the castle in 1867. The elaborate castle was a romantic token for his wife Margaret and a nest for their 9 children. Travel through time as you behold the near-perfect reflection of the fairy-tale castle in Lough Pollacapull.
Roughly 30 years later the castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester until becoming owned and operated by a Benedictine community in the 1920’s. In a few short years the Benedictine nuns converted the castle into an abbey and opened a international boarding school for girls. Saint Benedict accurately described the garden grounds as ‘her secret haven of peace and tranquillity’. Entering the front door of the Abbey you are immediately greeted by a beautifully carved angel, holding the coat of arms of Margaret Henry’s birth family. Intricate carvings of birds throughout the Abbey represent the nesting place that both the Henry’s hoped Kylemore would be for their family.

Kylemore-Abbey

Despite being a popular tourist destination, an atmosphere of tranquillity and calmness continues to surround the area. Developed alongside the castle in the 1800s, the Victorian Walled Garden at Kylemore is a beautiful sanctuary of flower beds, ferns, fruit trees, vegetables and herbs. The garden is the true jewel in Connemara’s Crown. Beyond here you will find the sweeping splendour and constantly changing moods of the Connemara countryside.
Experience woodland and lakeside shore walks, ever-changing colourful gardens and magnificent architecture when you visit Kylemore. Walk just five minutes alongside Lough Pollacapull and you will discover the enchanting 1800s neo-Gothic Church. When you visit Connemara and Kylemore Abbey you are guaranteed to discover unique beauty in stunning architecture and windswept countryside.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

11 Stunning Reasons to Cycle Clare & the Aran Islands

11 Stunning Reasons to Cycle Clare & the Aran Islands

We’re a tad spoilt for choice when it comes to remarkable roads in Ireland. This cycle route explores some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland at the perfect pace. It is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. For someone who is perpetually late and takes endless photos, the self-guided aspect of this cycle tour is genius. The plan to cycle self-guided may not always go to plan. Don’t fear. If you find yourself lost you’ll soon realise it’s difficult to find anything but marvellous views along Ireland’s west. Immerse yourself in nature, history and the lively Irish culture at your own pace.

Let’s begin eh? Don’t forget your camera.

bike sea, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Ennis

Ennis is a truly hidden gem and your entry point into the capital of county Clare. After an early transfer from Dublin the town is yours to explore. Wander the colourful streets, listening out for traditional buskers and savouring smells from local cafes. The Ennis Friary is the town’s oldest building and is an iconic stop while you’re in town. Founded in the late 13th century, the history, archaeology and sculptures contained within the medieval building are a treasure. Not a history buff? Perhaps the Dromore Wood Nature Reserve is more your style. The national park offers two gorgeous walks taking in lakes, limestone and woodlands full of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for a red squirrel. Remember, wasting time in Ireland is not time wasted.

ennis main st, self guided cycle Ireland ennis, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Spanish Point

Cycle alongside rolling green pastures until the mighty Atlantic comes into view at Spanish Point. The area was named Spanish Point after several ships from the Spanish Armada sunk in 1588 during wild weather. Nowadays Spanish Point is a great spot to enjoy white-sandy beaches and sample some fantastic local seafood.

spanish point, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Cliffs of Moher

Words alone cannot do the Cliffs of Moher justice. They are one of the most, if not the most, iconic destinations in Ireland. Just outside of Liscannor village, the vertical cliffs stretch as far as the eye can see with the highest peaks towering 200m over the wild Atlantic. It is a rugged landscape of immense natural beauty. Can you hear the sounds of sea-bird colonies and crashing waves? If you’re blessed by sunny skies you’ll enjoy tremendous views across to the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. I would recommend the Cliff Walk as the best way to experience your visit. Hike along the 8km of coastline, perhaps on your designated rest day? Sense of adventure is essential.

Cliffs Of Moher, self guided cycle Ireland Cliffs of Moher, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Wild Atlantic Way

Spend today’s cycle with the mighty Atlantic Ocean on your left and the rocky Burren National Park on your right. The Wild Atlantic Way provides a sensational journey along sweeping coastlines and towering sea cliffs. Soak in views from the northerly tip at Black Head before reaching Ballyvaughan. Take in this enchanting village while being surrounded by the limestone landscape of the Burren. Don’t forget to keep your eye out for hidden beaches and grand bays as you cycle the loop back to Doolin.

Doolin beach, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Doolin

I would argue that Doolin is the best possible place to be based for 4 nights of your cycle adventure. Are you mad for trad? For many Doolin is the Irish traditional music capital. In other words, you are guaranteed good craic. A visit to McGann’s Pub in the heart of Doolin is an absolute must for a drink and a homely Irish meal. Listen to some powerful folk music and enjoy what can only be described as a truly intimate Irish town.

Doolin, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Aran Islands – Inishmore

A short ferry ride from the mainland lies the wild beauty of these ancient islands. Immerse yourself for an entire day on the largest of the islands, Inishmore. Only 14km long and 4km wide the island is a cyclist’s paradise. Arrive in Kilronan and cycle through and eclectic mix of attractions along the way. The natural land and seascapes reveal an abundance of wildlife and native wildflowers. Inishmore is famously known for its strong Irish culture and prehistoric stone forts. You cannot miss seeing Dun Aoghasa, a semi-circular stone fort perched on the edge of vertical cliffs. Follow the road along the north coast and enjoy the breath-taking white sands of Kimurvey Beach. Take your time today and hop off your bike at every photo opportunity. You have all the time in world to explore the raw beauty of this incredible island. Well, until the afternoon ferry arrives. Get cracking!

aranoverheadstock aranstock

  1. Doolin Cave

Descend into Doolin cave and marvel at the largest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. Journey beneath the limestone valley into darkness and learn how weak acidic water dissolved limestone rock, thus bringing the cave to life. Can you believe the 7.3 metre long stalactite has taken 70,000 years to form? This is truly one of the best kept secrets along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way! Side note: No photo inside of Doolin Cave has been included to guarantee you visit.

doolin caves, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Poulnabrune Dolmen

Discover this archaeological mystery on your cycle loop from Doolin. The name ‘Poulnabrune’ literally means hole of the sorrows, and it is exactly that. Situated in the Burren National Park the dolmen is a burial site of a local Chieftain. A spectacular remnant of Neolithic history. Be sure to wander around the 4,500 year old dolmen as it provides magnificent aspects from every angle.

Poolna brone dolmen, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Noughaval Catholic Church

Only a few kilometers outside of Kilfenora are the ruins of this early monastic site. Exploring the grounds you will notice two distinguishing features, a decorated arch over the church doorway and an ancient Celtic Cross on the grounds nearby. Hundreds of these crosses are dotted throughout cemeteries in Ireland and the United Kingdom. It is believed that St. Patrick introduced the Celtic Cross, during his conversion of paganism to Christianity. The date of the crumbling site is unknown, creating a haunting yet intriguing atmosphere.

Stone arch, self guided cycle Ireland grave yard, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Noughaval Catholic Church

Burren National Park

Cycle into the heart of the Burren and wind around amazing limestone mountains at every turn. Burren National Park is a place of grand national beauty. The gnarly rocks seen here are made up of limestone pavement, formed from a tropical sea over 330 million years ago. Look close enough you will discover valleys teeming with colorful flora and fauna. If you haven’t been wowed enough by this lunar landscape you should stop at the Hazel Mountain Chocolate Factory. Hidden in the Burren mountains it is one of the most remote chocolate factories in the world. Chocoholic or not, this place is also worth a visit.

the Burren, self guided cycle Ireland The Burren, self guided cycle Ireland

  1. Kinvara & Dunguaire Castle

Marvel at the views of Dunguaire Castle from the quirky seaside town of Kinvara. You will soon discover why Dunguaire is the most photographed castle in the west. Perfectly placed on the harbour shoreline the castle is well worth climbing up the stairs to explore. After hundreds of kilometres of cycling why not find yourself a nice pub and reward yourself with a freshly poured pint of Guinness? You’ve earned it. This was a cycle adventure well done.

Kinvarra, self guided cycle Ireland Dunguire Castle, self guided cycle Ireland

 

Self guided Clare, Aran Islands cycle by Extreme Ireland

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off