Gregans Castle, one of Irelands Blue Book Hotels, is situated on the lower slopes of the famous ‘Corkscrew hill’. With its well earned place amongst Irelands most iconic climbs, it has been a feature of many races such as The Ras, The Junior Tour, Ras na mBan, The Tour of Ireland and The Nissan Classic. As I rolled out the avenue this afternoon I decided to turn right instead of left and to leave the pleasure of pushing both body and machine up the twisting hairpins for the next day.
A gentle meander followed, down into the village of Ballyvaughan where I was guided by the signs for The Wild Atlantic Way and headed out along the coast road towards Fanore.
Passing by a ferry boat moored alongside a small pier with the water beneath having given way to the ebbing tide I stopped to investigate a strange looking creation on the water. A bike was standing still out from the shore with a large sign attached proclaiming its’ intention to save Galway Bay. Well, you can’t get more environmentally friendly than a bike I thought to myself, and pedalled on. I had noticed earlier back at Gregans Castle that there was a charging station for Electric cars, a good sign of an environmentally conscious business.
Soon I found myself out on the fabulous coast road looking over at the city of the tribes across Galway bay. Up ahead I noticed an unusual piece of roadside architecture. What resembled a small monument or even a mini prehistoric Church turned out to be a water well. A handy place to fill a bottle if you were running dry. My bottle full I continued on.
A good road surface along a gently rolling coastal route always appeals to cyclists and along with the low density of traffic many mental boxes were being ticked as I rolled along before a small lighthouse set amongst the coastal rocks of Burren Limestone caught my eye.
The road and the coast turn gently left as The Aran Islands come in to view. The village of Fanore with its World famous beach is next up and the combination of Islands out from the shore, an incredibly dark golden sand and the backdrop of Burren Rock shadowing over, make this a unique and spectacular place well worth stopping to admire.
Even at this time of year, tour busses are busy carrying groups of people from all over the World to this special part of Ireland. You will see a certain amount from a bus, but on a bike you see everything. You can stop anywhere you like and move along at just the right speed to offer the broad vista and all of its associated aromas the opportunity to fill up your senses.
Approaching Doolin I turned left along another very well surfaced road that would take me back inland. There is just as much scenery to look at inland as on the coast in this area. Heading over towards Lisdoonvarna, Christy Moore began to sing in my head. A town made famous by a song and a matchmaking festival was busy on this Monday afternoon.
The road began to rise leaving the small town, and up ahead in the distance a wooded mountain top signified the summit which would offer the excitement of descending Corkscrew Hill on the way back to Gregans Castle once more.
The winding descent is a cyclists playground and resembles a continental descent from The Tour de France. Offering hairpin after hairpin, a confident cyclist would make their way down with a smile on their face.
Before I knew it I was back in Gregans Castle and looking forward to the eight course tasting menu that was on offer in what is considered to be one of Irelands finest restaurants.
This route would rate 3/7 for difficulty although days when a strong coastal wind blows would increase the effort required to bring it up to a 4/7.
Here is the Garmin file of todays Gregans Castle 50k
Here is todays Strava file of Gregans Castle 50k
And here is a smartphone downloadable file on mapmyride
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