Navigating rush hour traffic is a chore and any biker will tell you that hitting the open road with the miles whizzing by is the most exhilarating experience. So where do you go if you want to clock up miles? We spoke to Barry Browne from Harley Riders Ireland to get his opinion on some of the best motorbike road trips in Ireland and hint: scenery and ‘curves’ are a must!
Sally Gap to Wicklow Gap
A motorcycle road trip from the Sally Gap to the Wicklow Gap promises winding roads, bog lands and spectacular scenery. The Sally Gap is easily accessible from Laragh, Roundwood, Enniskerry or Blessington. The Sally Gap (R579) is one of two east-to-west passes that goes right through the Wicklow Mountains. To get to the Wicklow Gap, take the R115 (the Old Military Road) and head south for Laragh where you can turn right for Glendalough and the Wicklow Gap (on R756).
The Military Road was built between 1800 and 1809 by the British Army following the 1798 Rebellion. The road was constructed in order to open up the mountains and increase the army’s chances of capturing Republicans. The road runs from Rathfarnham to Aghavannagh, County Wicklow. The British also built four barracks along its route at Glencree, Laragh, Glenmalure and Aghavannagh. Once on the R756, head for the Wicklow Gap, which has a viewing platform that offers an ideal vantage point to take in the breath-taking scenery. Highlights on the trip will include Glencree valley, the dark waters of Lough Tay, Kippure Mountain and Glenmacnass Waterfall.
Dún Laoghaire to Courtown
Begin this route in Dún Laoghaire and travel south along the seafront to enjoy spectacular coastal view and windy roads. On route to Courtown you can enjoy the beauty that the east coast has to offer as you travel from Dublin to Wexford. Taking the coastal road is much longer than using the N11 but it is certainly worth it.
Some impressive views to enjoy as you negotiate the scenic route include Dalkey, Bray, Dunbar Head, Brittas Bay and Arklow Head to name but a few. The village of Courtown itself is located around a harbour and is a popular family holiday resort. When you arrive in Courtown, you might like to stretch your legs on the beautiful sandy beach or buy a 99 and stroll along the harbour taking in the views.
Spiddal, Roundstone and Clifden
Experience the captivating scenery of Connemara while traveling along the coast from Spiddal to the Sky Road in Clifden. From Galway, head out on the R336 through Barna until you get to the beautiful village of Spiddal with its sandy beaches and scenic harbour. From here, follow the meandering coastal road all the way to Roundstone. Roundstone is one of the oldest fishing villages on the west coast of Ireland and offers glorious views of The Twelve Bends and the Atlantic Ocean.
You can stretch your legs here and enjoy some of the locally caught seafood. Stay on the R341 until you get to Clifden and then head west on the Sky Road. The Sky Road is a circular route that is not to be missed. It is 16km long and takes a route out onto the Kingstown peninsula (take the uphill road for the view from a height).
The steep climb along the coastal edge offers panoramic views of Clifden bay and its many islands. There is a carpark and viewing area at the highest point where you can take in the scenery in all its splendour. Once you have your fill of the scenic coastline you can head back to Clifden via the N59.
Skibbereen to Baltimore
The southwest of Ireland is home to the beautiful coast of West Cork and its picturesque towns and villages. A motorbike ride from Skibbereen to Baltimore, on the R595, is sure to delight as it traverses the Haven Coast and arrives at the port village of Baltimore. The coastal road to Baltimore Harbour will offer views of Carbery’s Hundred Isles, which include the three inhabited islands of Cape Clear, Sherkin and Heir. It will be hard to pull yourself away from such an idyllic setting.
Of course if you are looking for jaw-dropping scenery and winding roads, West Kerry is an obvious choice. For Tom O’Neill, also a member of the Harley Riders Club, the road trip at the top of his list is Dingle to Brandon over the Conor Pass. Situated in the stunning mountains of the Dingle Peninsula, the Conor Pass links Dingle to villages on the north of the peninsula, such as Brandon, Cloghane and Castlegregory. Before you descend there is a viewing area and carpark at the top of the Pass and you can take in the breath-taking scenery of Brandon Bay, The Maharees, Tralee Bay, Kerry Head and Loop Head. As one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, it has a reputation for forcing tourists into submission when they are too frightened to drive against oncoming traffic with the over-hanging cliff to contend with. This shouldn’t be a problem for bikers who can weave past any nervous drivers. The twisting cliff road which snakes down the mountain offers dramatic views of the majestic Brandon Mountain Range and beautiful corrie lakes. When you get to the end of the Conor Pass take a left for Brandon and follow the narrow rural road all the way to the seaside village of Brandon. If you are feeling brave, continue out the road to Brandon Pt, where the road gets even narrower where you will have to be alert for wandering sheep. Navigate the winding road to the end, where a hilltop viewing area offers a panoramic view of Brandon Bay. On a clear day you will even see Clare Head!
Of course Ireland has many other scenic routes that could satisfy your need for ‘curves’ and scenery. There’s the Fanad Peninsula, Waterford’s Copper Coast, The Burren, The Causeway Coast and the Inishowen Peninsula to name but a few. Time to choose one and experience the divine!
Have you been convinced to explore Ireland on the open road? Liberty Insurance offers great value motorcycle insurance with 24/7 roadside assistance & discounts for safe riders, so you can focus on your trip.