Imagine you are cycling on little lanes almost devoid of cars. Down below, the sea sweeps into rocky inlets while, up above, a line of mountain peaks are jagged against the skyline. Tiny rivers rush down the hillsides and spill out through a landscape that’s so unspoilt it is hard to believe this is the 21st century. Sometimes the sun shines but this quickly changes to showers while, if you are up high, clouds surround you. Then a watery sun reappears.
Imagine your heart as it raises a beat while you tackle a short steep climb that then turns into an adrenalin rush as you drop downhill again. During this time, all you can hear are the sounds of your tyres, the air around you, birds singing and the frequent rush of water.
This is the Beara Cycle Way in a little known corner of south west Ireland. I tackled 80 miles of this lovely route in the last few days. Castletownbere is an excellent centre to base yourself and it is best to allow lots of time to go exploring with your bike. These are a few images:
Start and Finish: MacCarthy's Bar, Castletownbere
Castletownbere is a fishing port
Cycling the coastline
Discovering links with Cornwall, a 19th century copper mine engine house
Healy Pass, a 300m climb into cloud. It disappeared on the other side
Typical coastal view
These are a couple of local scenes beside the cycle route that I liked
The link to find out more of this route is here. I purchased locally the Ordnance Survey map that shows all the lanes. One of the many things I especially liked was to drop down to small quays, still home to fishermen but now those using rods instead of boats.