Duration: 6 night(s) From €0
Trip created by Dawn Rainbolt
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Irish romantic poet, W.B. Yeats described Sligo on Ireland’s northwest Atlantic coast as “Land of Hearts Desire.” The Wilderness Ireland office is based in Sligo. So these are our local roads and you’ll benefit from our insider knowledge of each route. Sweeping mountains, miles-long empty beaches and bustling music-filled towns, Sligo is Ireland’s best kept secret. On quiet country lanes, find epic backdrops, friendly locals and an eclectic array of superb food stops dotting the county. This region is perfect for a self-guided cycling adventure. Each evening, feast upon Sligo’s fresh seafood and mingle with locals in one of the many wee pubs for a pint and some Irish trad music.
Biking up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) daily, there are also options to extend each day’s cycling for those wanting a bigger challenge. We’ll provide emergency assistance and luggage transfers so you can relax and enjoy the trip with peace of mind.
This is a self guided cycling tour, meaning you can bike at your own pace, stopping at your leisure to soak up the incredible scenery. You’ll have detailed route notes and a bike computer, as well as a mechanic on call if you require assistance. Self guided tours allow you to enjoy linear routes and more flexibility. However, do note that you’ll have neither a guide nor support driver on the road with you while you’re cycling.
Arriving at Sligo Train Station or Knock Airport, meet one of our team who will get you and your group checked in at your first hotel – a vibrant spot in the heart of bustling Sligo town. They will walk you through each day’s routes, provide you with plenty of suggestions for places to eat and some of the most spectacular and unmissable spots along the way. After your bike-fit, you’ll head off with your group to enjoy your first ride of the week. Pedal a local favourite, the loop of the Coolera Peninsula overlooked by the majestic Knocknarea Hill with its colossal and imposing cairn (said to be the burial place of an ancient warrior queen). You’ll pedal through the world-famous surfing village of Strandhill where we suggest a slight detour to enjoy a pint or a home-made ice cream overlooking the beach. Sligo town has a great selection of delicious dining options and superb pubs. (B)
Bike Distance: 22km/ 13 miles | Ascent: 135 m/ 443 ft
Heading inland today, the scenery changes from wild, open seascape to lush, green valleys overlooked by heathery mountain tops. You’ll cycle along the shores of Lough Gill, studded with tiny green islands and lined with old-growth native forest. Hugging the lakeshore, the 17th-century Parkes Castle is a plantation-era fortified manor house and a great place to get acquainted with a little local history. Your whole route today circumnavigates the lovely Lough Gill, taking in some of Sligo’s most charming woodlands, lake shores and villages along the way. Back in town, we definitely recommend seeking out a traditional music session in one of Sligo’s pubs – the music in this town is some of the best in Ireland. (B)
Bike Distance: 40km/ 24 miles | Ascent: 240 m/ 787 ft
The Glens of Leitrim are the stuff of song. Today you’ll bike arguably the most impressive of them all – Glencar. Famous for its incredible waterfall that cascades from a hanging valley in the mountains above, you will have the opportunity to stop here to admire this magical panorama. Later your route tracks along quiet country roads, back towards the Atlantic coast, where the miles-long beach at Rosses Point provides you with the opportunity to breathe some sea air and perhaps enjoy an ocean dip before heading back to town for the evening. (B)
Bike Distance: 37km/ 23 miles | Ascent: 165 m/ 541 ft
The granite hills of the Ox Mountains are some of the most ancient in Ireland – in fact, so ancient that they are geologically part of the Appalachian Mountains. Today you’ll pedal past the Wilderness Ireland office to enjoy some of our favourite lunchtime biking haunts in the foothills of the Ox Mountains. The scenery today will contrast with earlier in the week as you cycle through blanket bogland – of which Ireland has the most extensive areas of this delicate ecosystem in the world- and through heathery valleys. Your descent back towards base promises epic views across Sligo Bay and on a clear day, views all the way out to the Slieve League cliffs in Donegal. (B)
Bike Distance: 38km/ 23 miles | Ascent: 305 m/ 1,000 ft
Today, you’ll follow the Wild Atlantic Way as you head northwards to the wild and dramatic landscapes of north Sligo, a place dominated by the majestic silhouette of Ben Bulben, Sligo’s most iconic and imposing mountain. Your route meanders along the quiet lanes and byways hugging the winding Atlantic coast. Stop at Lissadell House, home of an Irish revolutionary, as well as the first woman ever elected as a Westminster MP. A comfortable descent brings you into Mullaghmore, a pretty harbour village where you’ll spend the night overlooking the ocean. (B)
Bike Distance: 40km/ 24 miles | Ascent: 220 m/ 721 ft
The wild raw beauty of north Sligo is revealed in all its glory today. You’ll pedal the second of Leitrim’s glens today but not before cutting under Ben Bulben’s jagged escarpment. This part of Ireland is steeped in myth – from the fairy people who live behind the cliff face to the ancient warriors who roamed the plains looking for love and adventure. This morning’s climb is rewarded with a perfect afternoon descent back towards the ocean. Your final ride encompasses the best of Irish cycling – windswept mountains, glorious ocean vistas, quiet country roads, Europe’s freshest air and of course the opportunity for a seaside pint and fresh, local seafood to round off a fantastic week. (B)
Bike Distance: 40km/ 24 miles | Ascent: 220 m/ 721 ft
One of our friendly office team will meet you at your hotel this morning and transfer you back to Sligo where you can catch one of the frequent trains to Dublin. Alternatively, we will drop you at Knock Airport where there are multiple daily flights to many UK and European airports. (B)
This self guided cycling trip features accommodations chosen for their excellent location, service and comfort. Expect small, comfortable and characterful lodgings. You will have the choice between cosy B&Bs or 3-star family-run hotels or guesthouses, with options in towns or rural communities. Accommodation rooming is a choice of double or twin rooms, which are en-suite with a shower.
Each morning, enjoy a homemade breakfast of your choice at your accommodation. We will provide local suggestions for lunches and dinners, to be taken according to your own preferences.
An avid cyclist and hiker, Patricia enjoys exploring Ireland’s wild landscapes every chance she gets u2013 she particularly loves the under-appreciated regions of Mayo, Connemara, Sligo and Donegal. Having spent nearly a decade in the hospitality industry, Patricia is an expert on Ireland’s luxury and unique accommodations. As Wilderness Ireland’s General Manager and head of the sales team, Patricia is ready to help make your Irish adventure spectacular! – Patricia Doe
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