Leaving The Clifden Station House this morning the sun was shining brightly and there was plenty of blue in the sky. The temperature was rising and I was in shorts and short sleeves. It turns out that September really is a perfect month for cycling in Ireland.
Signposts for The Wild Atlantic Way (S) directed me once more as I headed in the direction of Roundstone. Passing a signpost for the Allcot and Browne landing site piqued my interest as I left Clifden in my wake. My first detour of the day had begun.
This was also the location of Marconi’s first Transatlantic Radio transmission station so two historic events rolled into one were on the cards. A gate appeared with a sign asking everyone to please keep it closed. This is in order to keep the hundreds of sheep who inhabit this bogland within their owners confines.
Two men were harvesting turf from the peat bog as the road turned into a track. A white egg loomed up ahead signalling my destination. In it’s shadow is the remains of a small mass concrete hut. The location of Marconi’s radio transmitting station.
Looking out across the vast bogland where that first ever transatlantic flight touched down I wondered just what it must have felt like for those two brave men on that fateful day back in June 1919.
Whilst I stood there, enjoying the silence of the vast area I heard voices approaching. The language was not English but it was one that I have heard many times before. A Belgian couple were speaking Flemish. They were from Oudenarde, the home of the Tour of Flanders so had plenty to chat to a cyclist about.
They are driving along the length of The Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal to Cork for three weeks. They remarked that ‘You Irish all tell stories about rain. We have not seen any of this here and think that you make it up to keep this beautiful country all for yourselves.’ Perhaps they are right.
Back on the road I am constantly distracted by the ever-changing sea views that stretch out to my right and the mountain range to my left. I stop at a small beach to take a photo and meet a couple from Yorkshire who are also cycling and they offer to take a photo for me. They come to Ireland on holidays every year and always get good weather, especially in May and September.
Back on the road a small abandoned pier catches my eye so I hop over a gate and go take a look. I am fascinated by how the water can rise high enough as the tide comes in to clear all the rocks that seem to stretch out for at least a kilometre from the pier itself.
Next up comes the small fishing village of Roundstone. At dinner last night in The Signal Restaurant my waitress mentioned that if she won the lotto, that’s where she would like to live, and it was easy to see why. A really quaint village with the sea on one side and a mountain range stretching off in the distance, it looked postcard perfect in todays sunshine.
The road was now leading me towards the mountains up ahead. A left turn would bring me across the bog road back to Clifden once more making for a really scenic and manageable forty kilometre spin which I had previously enjoyed, but today I turned right for Cashel. An American flag flew high against the mountainous backdrop signifying the affinity this area has with it’s nearest neighbour across the Atlantic water.
Now heading inland I was under the false impression that my views across the water would be coming to an end. The sea and the lakes are a constant feature in this part of Ireland and some of the inland parts of this route were more spectacular than the coastal parts, which is really saying something.
The mountains were now drawing nearer and looked ominously steep up ahead. I wondered how google earth had calculated that I could possibly remain below 100 meters high for the entire spin.
However the Inagh valley manages to achieve the seemingly impossible by finding a relatively flat route through the mammoth mountainsides.
This road brought me to a junction with the option of turning left for Kylemore Abbey or right towards Killary harbour and on along the Connemara loop towards Renvyle along the coast. I chose right and followed the Wild Atlantic Way once more. I was now beginning to think of a coffee stop and in such an uninhabited area wondered how long it would be before I came across a place to refuel.
About 65k in I came across a shop and coffee bar. A nice fresh sandwich and a good cappuccino were exactly what was needed and I was soon on the road again, well fuelled up after a feed fit for a king.
The road to Renvyle skirted the coast once again and was amazing in the bright Indian summer sunshine.
Heading south back towards Clifden once more and on through Letterfrack, with the wind on my back I was really enjoying all that this cycling route had to offer. The scenery is incredible, the people that you meet along the way are friendly. Cars leave so much room whilst passing out that on more than one occasion I checked to see if they had passed another car just behind me too.
Arriving back to The Clifden Station House I now had an appetite for dinner but was sorry for such a fantastic days cycling to come to an end.
This route would rate a four out of seven for difficulty.
Here is a downloadable map of todays Clifden Station House 110k
Here is todays Strava file
And here is a smartphone downloadable file on mapmyride
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<a href=”http://www.mapmyride.com/courses/1440627″ target=”_blank”>View this Course</a> on <a href=”http://mapmyride.com” target=”_blank”>MapMyRide</a]
Here is a link to a shortened version that makes up the 40k Roundstone loop