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UK + Ireland Tour

Old 08-04-12, 07:52 PM
  #1  
mcallaghan
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UK + Ireland Tour

My Tour Date is getting awfully close - my flight is a week from THIS Monday! I will most likely be in a panic on that day (transportation to the airport could be interesting).

Am I as prepared as I could be? No. I could certainly have put more miles in on the bike, but I am still feeling quite confidant.

The LEJOG part of the tour will be done with my Uncle over 12 days (Lands End to Jon O'Groats) will be spent at B&Bs so won't be traveling with camping gear.

The Lon Las Cymru (Cardiff to Holyhead in Wales) will take 4 days and will commence on the 4th day after the LEJOG (giving me 3 full days of rest). I will be riding this leg solo and with all my Camping Gear as I will be camping each night.

From Holyhead I take a ferry over to Ireland where I will continue my tour, going down to Mizen Head before heading up to Malin Head. I will be taking a 2 day break (one to hike C. Patrick!) at my Aunts house in Galway. I am having difficulty planning the route North of Galway (lack of campsites) but will be looking to do my Irish Segment (solo again) in about 18 days.
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Old 08-04-12, 10:29 PM
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While not doing the same routes as you I did do the 'Grand Tour' of Ireland and 'Lon Las Cymru' a few years ago. Did it from North to south, though. Then rode out to St. David's through Swansea, Llanelli and Pembroke. North along the coast to and through Fishguard, Aberystwyth, Harlech, Caenarfon, Bangor, across the Menai Bridge and across Angelsey to Holyhead. There's a B road that goes across Angelsey which is much more rural than the A5...can't remember the rt #, though.

The first half was Dublin to Dublin counter-clockwise. South through Wicklow, Arklow, Wexford, Dungarvin, Waterford, etc. to Killarney. Included was the Ring of Kerry. Missed Galway as I elected to go to the Aran Islands, instead and took a ferry to Rossaveel. Then north through Leenanne and up to Westport, Derry, Balleycastle, Larne, Belfast, Slane and on to Dublin. Then took the Stennaline ferry across to Holyhead.

Was in each country for a month. My axiety level was the same as yours. Was I in good enough shape? Did I pick the right bike? Was my passport going to arrive in time? On and on. Then a guy whom I came to know through our lbs told me not to worry, "They've got indoor plumbing over there and if you're not fit for the tour in 2 weeks you will be." That relaxed me and made me laugh at myself. I'd never been out of the States before and here I was going on a 2 month bike tour. I was supposed to be a little nervous. You'll be fine. Have fun.
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Old 08-05-12, 04:22 AM
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Are you flying into London? What are your plans for getting to Lands End?
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Old 08-05-12, 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
My axiety level was the same as yours. Was I in good enough shape? Did I pick the right bike? Was my passport going to arrive in time? On and on. Then a guy whom I came to know through our lbs told me not to worry, "They've got indoor plumbing over there and if you're not fit for the tour in 2 weeks you will be." That relaxed me and made me laugh at myself. I'd never been out of the States before and here I was going on a 2 month bike tour. I was supposed to be a little nervous. You'll be fine. Have fun.
All true.

Sorry, can't help otherwise with your route except to say, be at your transport departure points, especially the international ones, well beforehand. Like up to three hours before departure out of the States. And be prepared to wait for up to 90 minutes in long queues on arrival in Britain for passport and customs checks. Don't lie about the contents of your bike box -- the flight people aren't stupid. You will likely be charged quite a bit to get the bike on the flight.

Waiting for loading on board ferries also can be a bit of a bore, as we experienced in Newcastle last week. But once you get cycling, things will settle down.

Oh, and if you are going to take the trains at any time, be aware that you can't just go on board with the bike. You likely will have to book a seat in order to get the bike on, and pay for the bike as well. You can do this on the internet, or just go to the ticketing office. If you book on the internet, you will find the fares are much cheaper, and then you have to collect the tickets at the ticket machine at your departure station.

On the long-distance trains, you may have to put the bike in the goods wagon, but generally they will go in designated passenger carriages, and those carriages may not be the ones for your booked seats. You will have to remove your panniers, because the bikes are hung from hooks on most trains.

Some metro/tube trains, such as the deep underground in London and the Newcastle metro, do not allow bikes on board, either. The trains also don't go all the way to John O'Groats.

You will likely find it a bit daunting initially, but we got the procedure down pat by the time we left Britain.
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Old 08-05-12, 05:36 AM
  #5  
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Hi mcallaghan
your FLBT sounds really good, when you are taking the grand tour of Ireland from Mizen Head to Malin make sure you travel the N71 from Glengarriff to Kenmare really good and as nashcommguy said he elected to go to the Aran Islands again an other great choice from Doolin to the Aran Islands and then Rossaveel and through Connemara one of the nicest places in Ireland, Have a good one take it easy and you will enjoy every mile

Last edited by george12345; 08-05-12 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 08-05-12, 07:35 AM
  #6  
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I'm way ahead of you guys - I leave a week from tomorrow and have most of that stuff taken care of!

I fly into Heathrow where my Uncle is picking me up. I'm a dual-citizen as well - my entire extended family lives in the UK and Ireland. Once I arrive, I've got two days at my Uncles before we take a train down towards Lands End. Well aware of the bikes-on-train thing - hopefully we don't have any issues with other people who aren't booked trying to get their bikes on.

Once done with LEJOG, I believe we're taking a train back to his house. I then get two days off before taking a train to Cardiff, which (day 3) is another rest day but with travel. After that, its all work until I get to my Aunts house in Galway.

Nash - you describe the clockwise route Day 1 is a short but strenuous day for me, as I tackle the hills of Wicklow on a route recommended to me on an Irish forum. Its apparently more spectactular than riding along the coast. I am going to spend a night on Cape Clear as well - hear its quite good - and will also be getting to Inis Mor, though will take a ferry back to Doolin. Apparently, health and safety have banned bikes on the Ross...whatever its called...ferry, but the Doolin ferries still take bikes.

I think I will look at heading North along the coast from Galway. I do need to plot my route and print out the cue sheets though - will only have an iPhone with me so no GPS-Only unit like a Garmin.
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Old 08-05-12, 07:41 AM
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Sounds like you've got an advantage over many of us.

I would love to have someone pick us up when we get into Heathrow! It's not an easy airport to get out of with bicycles. I keep thinking that there has to be an easier way than that train to Earl's Court with boxed bicycles.
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Old 08-05-12, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by mcallaghan View Post
Well aware of the bikes-on-train thing - hopefully we don't have any issues with other people who aren't booked trying to get their bikes on.
I don't think it's allowed, at least with the train operators we travelled with. We made an error in Balloch when getting tickets, and when we got to Dumbarton and tried to get on board without the right tickets, we were very nicely told, "no".

You have to have the bikes booked with tickets to get on, and they are usually checked. on the platform.

I hope you have a great time... and the rain has stopped by the time you get there!
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Old 08-05-12, 11:24 AM
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As long as my bike box fits in my uncles car - might be a tight squeeze!
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Old 08-05-12, 11:25 AM
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I just borrowed some pasture space from the sheep occasionally,
and used independent Hostels, when the weather was heavy .
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Old 08-05-12, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by mcallaghan View Post
I'm way ahead of you guys - I leave a week from tomorrow and have most of that stuff taken care of!

I fly into Heathrow where my Uncle is picking me up. I'm a dual-citizen as well - my entire extended family lives in the UK and Ireland. Once I arrive, I've got two days at my Uncles before we take a train down towards Lands End. Well aware of the bikes-on-train thing - hopefully we don't have any issues with other people who aren't booked trying to get their bikes on.

Once done with LEJOG, I believe we're taking a train back to his house. I then get two days off before taking a train to Cardiff, which (day 3) is another rest day but with travel. After that, its all work until I get to my Aunts house in Galway.

Nash - you describe the clockwise route Day 1 is a short but strenuous day for me, as I tackle the hills of Wicklow on a route recommended to me on an Irish forum. Its apparently more spectactular than riding along the coast. I am going to spend a night on Cape Clear as well - hear its quite good - and will also be getting to Inis Mor, though will take a ferry back to Doolin. Apparently, health and safety have banned bikes on the Ross...whatever its called...ferry, but the Doolin ferries still take bikes.

I think I will look at heading North along the coast from Galway. I do need to plot my route and print out the cue sheets though - will only have an iPhone with me so no GPS-Only unit like a Garmin.
Yea, I do...why would I think it's counter? My only response is the international expression of a forehead slap and 'duh!'. Btw, OS-Ranger UK maps though pricey are really, really detailed. Purchased several while I was in Wales and the 2 that cover the north coast from Anglesey to Rhyl are hanging on the wall in my bike room.

Anyway, once again have fun. And Doolin has some of the best musical sessions anywhere in Ireland.
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Old 08-05-12, 07:48 PM
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Yeah, I think it would cost me over $100+ to get such detailed maps of the routes I am going in Ireland. Luckily, the LLC route I am doing is on the NCN so I got the Sustrans maps for that. It should be pretty easy to follow (by all accounts) but if I get lost I am sure the locals can direct me back to the route. Its crazy to think that I will be flying over there a week from tomorrow. I feel like I am forgetting something but have no idea what!
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Old 08-06-12, 01:04 AM
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4 1:250K OS maps cover Ireland.. they were under 5 Punt each.
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Old 08-06-12, 06:45 PM
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Are those going to be detailed enough?

I have a 200K Road Atlas of Ireland that I was planning on tearing pages out of...seems a bit better then 250k?
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Old 08-14-12, 09:21 PM
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All arrived in the UK. Up at this godawful time (4AM) due to lack of being able to sleep. To be fair, it is only about 9PM back at home, so I did sleep for 3 or so hours. Not the best of starts, though, given that rest of today is going to be busy with preparations before we embark at about this time on Thursday Morning to head to Lands End from Leighton Buzzard.
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Old 08-15-12, 03:03 AM
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and now the fun begins
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Old 08-15-12, 10:55 AM
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Are those going to be detailed enough?
more detailed than 250K and [even plodding slow] I'd ride off the map
in a day or 2, and have to buy more maps.
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