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Help for an Ireland and Scotland Tour

Old 06-11-12, 12:13 PM
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TheNessaHeart
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Help for an Ireland and Scotland Tour

Greetings all,

I am planning on my first bike tour to Scotland and Ireland next summer, I imagine on being over there for at least a month or more and would love any words of advice and bits of insight from this vast knowledge pool. If you have toured either location what route did you go, how long where you there? And if you were to do it differently what would you do?

My rig is a Lemond alpe d'huez, named Saoirse. I have ortlieb panniers for her, but only back ones so far. Im planning on getting a front rack as well.

If my trip has any theme its the things that I am passionate about: Bikes, Whiskey, folk music, ancient sites full of history and magic, pubs, and beautiful wild scenery.

I would love to hear your stories and advice.

Thanks,

Vanessa River

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Old 06-11-12, 12:57 PM
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ctyler
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Take a look at this post on crazyguyonabike: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=6864&v=18g

And you also may want to post your questions on the crazyguy site.

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Old 06-11-12, 02:31 PM
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There's hardly a place I enjoyed cycling more than on Shetland. It's incredibly beautiful, and the wildlife is unique. If you like historical sites, I would also consider the Orkneys, which has a lot of them very close to eachother.
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Old 06-11-12, 03:42 PM
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Feb of 97 I pootled from Dublin to Co Kerry then up the west coast
for about 60 days .
[wild camped or stayed in one of the independent Hostels
when weather too heavy.. ]

Crossing over NI [Derry, via Bushmills] Antrim coast with a tailwind
and taking a Ferry, Larne to SW Scotland.
another Ferry Ayr to Islay and such , landing at Oban, and up the Ness Glen.

I brought my Mandolin.. Pub sessions were fun.

spent time in Findhorn community till winter..

was there, glued to the BBC TV after Di and Dodi, using a Limo,
took a chip of concrete out of a support pillar in Paris.

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Old 06-11-12, 03:46 PM
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I cycled Scotland in 2004 and had a great time. North and west of Pitlochry was where I really started to enjoy the scenery and the cycling in general. If you want to visit any of the islands, https://www.calmac.co.uk/ has a bunch of multi-ride tickets that let you put together your own island hopping itinerary (the "Island Hopscotch" tickets) for less than the cost of individual tickets. Your bicycle goes on the ferry for free with the Island Hopscotch tickets, but you pay extra for the bike if you buy individual tickets.

Will you be camping, staying in hostels, or staying in B&Bs and hotels? The rural Scottish hostels are great places to stay.

Definitely put fenders on your bike, it will make riding in the rain much more pleasant. And yes, if you spend a month in Scotland you will definitely get rained on. If you're not camping, try to keep your luggage light enough and compact enough to fit into just the rear panniers and a handlebar bag, and maybe a seat bag. Also, put the lowest gears you can manage on your bike, the rural roads can be incredibly steep (think 20% grades).

https://www.amazon.com/Lonely-Planet-...ycling+britain is a good source of information about cycling in the UK, their route suggestions are really good.

www.yacf.co.uk is a mostly British cycling forum with quite a few members in Scotland, it might be a good source for ideas on where to go.

You do know about the mosquitoes, don't you?
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Old 06-12-12, 05:47 AM
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I'm from Ireland and have toured pretty extensively around the country although I've never actually toured in Scotland so can't be of any assisstance there. In my experience, Irish campsites are very expensive (often 10e or more compared to maybe 3e in France or 5e in Italy) as well as being often quite hard to find once you get away from the coast. For that reason when on tour in Ireland I tend to keep to the more remote parts and just sleep where-ever I can find a nice place. There's not much open land or expansive wilderness for that kind of thing since everywhere is farmed but you'll usually find some nice quiet spot and Irish people tend to be pretty relaxed about that sort of thing.
You'll also have to be ready for rain, especially on the west coast. It's also generally pretty windy (generally from the south west). It probably won't rain all the time though, not for a whole month.

As regards where you should go in Ireland, bear in mind that Ireland is shaped a bit like a bowl, it's got mountains pretty much all around the edge of it and it's flat and boring in the middle.
If you could start in Cork city, head west into the mountains of west cork and south kerry, get the tarbert ferry across the shannon estuary north into Clare and along the coast (stop for surfing in Lahinch, trad music in Lisdoonvarna), have a night out in Galway and then head to Clifden via the Inagh valley in Connemara, more surfing at Louisburg, maybe climb the reek outside Westport (from the west is better although that's a hiking adventure rather than touring unless you've got a mountain bike and plenty of gears). Next would be the (relative) wilderness of north mayo, the ceide fields, the Ox mountains and Sligo (home of WB Yeats) and the bluffs of Ben Bulben and then you'd take on Northern Ireland (maybe with a detour through Donegal to see the magnificient Glenveagh national park). Northern Ireland then has the walled town of Derry, the Sperrin mountains, the giants causeway, the beautiful Antrim coastline and the city of Belfast which is definitely worth a visit, just don't fly any Irish flags in the wrong neighbourhood. You could then take a ferry from Larne across to Scotland and from there I have no idea what's good.

The route I described is basically an expanded version of the Mizen to Malin route (south to north tip of the island, although my route doesn't actually bring you to either tip) and is widely regarded as a good way to see the best of what Ireland has to offer on a bike. Dublin is also nice, as is the southeast, especially the Nore Valley between Kilkenny and New Ross. My route takes in the essentials though. Feel free to pm me if you have any specific Ireland touring questions. Also, I don't know of any touring specific Irish forums but if you go to the cycling section of www.boards.ie you'll find a few tourists and a lot of general cyclists with a wealth of knowledge.
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Old 06-12-12, 06:10 AM
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Where in Italy did you find a campsite for 5 euros? Or should I say when? My experience last month was that 1 person + 1 tent never came to less than 13 euros. Had I had a car with me, the cost would have been higher.
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Old 06-12-12, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by markf View Post

You do know about the mosquitoes, don't you?
Ah, I can tell you aren't a local. They aren't mosquitoes, they are midges. The West Highland midge is an absolute terror between July and October, but is deterred by DEET and, surprisingly enough, by Avon Skin-so-soft.

OP, I have ridden very extensively in both Ireland and Scotland. You can be certain of having a great time in both. To get from Ireland to Scotland (or vice-versa) take the ferry from Larne to Stranraer, as fletsbob suggests.

In Ireland, pretty much all of it is great for cycling, but I would especially recommend Galway, the Dingle peninsula and, on the other side of the country, the Wicklow mountains. You should have no trouble finding bed-and-breakfast accommodation at reasonable prices.

Scotland offers a host of possibilities. Others have mentioned the CALMAC ferries to the islands, and that is well worth doing. The whole of the west coast is terrific, especially once north of Oban. A favourite route of mine has been north from Loch Lomond, through Glencoe and Fort William, on via Invergarry and Shiel Bridge to the Kyle of lochalsh and Plockton (great little town to stay in, Plockton) and then across to the East -Dingwall and Inverness - via Glen Carron - and south through the Cairngorms to Edinburgh. Of if you wanted to go even deeper into the highlands you could continue north from Plockton through Wester Ross.

These areas aren't densely populated and accommodation is a bit scarcer. Still not difficult, but worth planning ahead and booking your B&Bs in advance.

Oh, one specific recommendation. If going north from Plockton appeals to you, take the Applecross Pass (the Bealach-Na-Ba, "Pass of the cattle" in Gaelic). It's an iconic climb, and the Applecross Inn is a great place to eat and/or stay the night.
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Old 06-12-12, 06:45 AM
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bikes are free on calmac ferries regardless of ticket
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Old 06-12-12, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by markf View Post
Where in Italy did you find a campsite for 5 euros? Or should I say when? My experience last month was that 1 person + 1 tent never came to less than 13 euros. Had I had a car with me, the cost would have been higher.
Northern Italy, 3 years ago. Granted they weren't all 5e (when they were significantly more we camped wild), but they were cheaper than Ireland.
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Old 06-12-12, 10:47 AM
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My wife and I did a great two week tour in Scotland, mostly in the Hebrides. Started on Arran Island, ferry to Claonaig, ride up to Oban, ferry to Barra, Lewis, Harris, Skye, ferry to Mallaig, ride to Kilchoan, ferry to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, and finally ferry back to Oban from where we took a train back to Glasgow/Edinburgh. We lucked out with only two days of rain in two weeks but I'm told that the weather is usually pretty good in the Hebrides.

/Doug
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Old 06-12-12, 01:47 PM
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Crazyguy...

If you fly into Dublin and are putting your bike together at the airport ride ride North to Slane ~30miles and take a jetlag day visiting Newgrange. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange.

Northern Ireland is a bit less touristy and less expenive.

It's hard to go wrong in Scotland. Don't ride the A82. Bring fast dry clothes. Have a midge strategy. As someone else said the summer Larne -> Troon fast ferry makes for easy access to the West Coast of Scotland.
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Old 06-12-12, 04:05 PM
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Newgrange is excellent, if you go to Ireland be sure and see it.
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Old 06-13-12, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by markf View Post
Newgrange is excellent, if you go to Ireland be sure and see it.
true all of the boyne valley is great i cycle it all the time,if you get good weather you may never leave gods own country for riding a bike.
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