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Cycling to Ireland’s Westernmost Point – Slea Head

3 min read

By Dawn Rainbolt, Marketing Executive
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Way West

Imagine soft, green grass under your bare feet and mighty waves crashing below Slea Head’s jagged cliffs along the Wild Atlantic Way. Imagine a foreground of rugged islands with steep cliff faces and a backdrop of green hills dotted with grazing cows and the occasional sheep. Silent, peaceful, beautiful – and you have it all to yourself.

Welcome to Slea Head, the westernmost peninsula stretching into the Atlantic Ocean. Without being on one of the rocky islands, you can’t get any closer to the U.S. than Slea Head on the Wild Atlantic Way! There’s something very special about experiencing the final stop between Europe and North America. Nothing stands between you Cape Spear, Canada – North America’s easternmost tip – which feels empowering and inspiring.

Slea Head, Ireland's western-most point

Slea Head, Ireland’s westernmost point

 

To experience Ireland’s extremes, start at Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southerly point. The dramatic, rugged point comprises one of Europe’s main transatlantic shipping routes, and in the heyday of maritime transport, Mizen Head was one of the first – or last – bits of Europe sailors saw.

Bike through the magnificent Kerry, across not one but four peninsulas – Mizen, Beara, Ivereagh, and Dingle Peninsulas – as well as expansive countryside. In the evenings, taste the day’s catch in fishing villages such as Schull and stroll though pictuesque villages like Sneem or Kenmare. During the days, bike through impressive passes like Molls Gap, the Gap of Dunloe, the Caha Pass and along quiet routes through the mountains along the Ring of Kerry. The views over the bays and along the coastline will be majestic!

As you continue along the Wild Atlantic Way, follow Ring of Kerry onto to the Dingle Peninsula. Here, wave to Puck the Goat in Killorgin (home to a annual festival featuring the loveable town mascot), the cheerful Milltown (where Irish music spills out onto the streets), Inch Beach (try your hand at windsurfing), Dingle Town (try to spot Foogie the Dolphin as you enjoy a pint of local brew), weave your way down narrow roads and around backbreaking turns with breath-taking views before finally arriving at the long-sought-after Slea Head – Ireland’s way west.

And beautiful it is. Ireland is one of the most magical places on the old continent and Slea Head is no exception. Rooted in a long history that has left its mark in terms of the Dunbeg Fort, Reask Monastic Site, and the Gallarus Oratory among others, the tip of the Dingle Peninsula feels alive with its harmonious pairing of man and nature.

As you take in the silence, you feel a connection, a sense of belonging. Slip off your shoes and go for a barefoot hike as you listen to the cows bellowing to each other across faraway meadows. Take the time to relax, to stare out at the waves and rocky outcrops below you, and drink in the magic of Dingle.

Dingle Town in Co. Kerry

There’s always live music and good beer in Dingle Town

 

When you’ve had enough of silence, know that only a short distance away, the playful and happy-go-lucky town of Dingle awaits you. If by this time you’re craving a little raucous fun, some live, upbeat Irish tunes coupled with a plate of hearty Irish food and a pint of the local beer, Crean’s, end your day at one of Dingle’s many cosy pubs.

As you relax in a local pub, it’s time to take a deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back, because you did it. You made it. You crossed Ireland from Mizen Head, it’s the most southern point, to reach Slea Head, its farthest westward point – on two wheels!

Sound great? Here's how to experience it yourself

Meet the Author: Dawn Rainbolt

“American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture and sweeping landscapes of Ireland. Armed with a Masters Degree in Tourism Marketing and a love of writing and photography, she is Wilderness Ireland's Marketing Executive since 2017.”

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