North of Ireland Guided Group Bicycle Tours
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our guided group tours
Causeway Coast and
Glens of Antrim (7 nights)
The North of Ireland is a wonderful region for bicycle touring – great scenery, quiet traffic-free roads, the legendary hospitality, wit and humour of the Northern Ireland people, excellent food and a wonderful variety of fascinating sites of interest. In 2014 the Giro d’Italia came to Northern Ireland for the first time – and the people took the event to their hearts in a big way!
The bike tour explores the northeast corner of the island of Ireland, with the focus being the stunning Causeway Coast, with its jaw-dropping scenery, its castles and its natural wonders. View the day-by-day itinerary below to get an overview of what you will see and experience on the tour.
And at the end of the tour, you may decide to stay on in Belfast for a day or two to fully experience what this remarkable city has to offer. The Titanic Experience and the Game of Thrones tour (the series is filmed in this part of the world) are just two more recent additions to the many attractions.
The tour is led by an experienced local guide – his knowledge, and his desire to share it with you – will greatly add to your overall enjoyment.
The tour is suitable for riders of all levels of experience and ambition.
Dates and Rates
- Day 1 (Saturday)
We meet at the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick near Belfast International Airport. The hotel is easily accessible from the airport and from Belfast itself by frequent public bus or by taxi. After checking in, you can try out your bike and equipment can be tried on a test ride around the surrounding country lanes. There will be drinks a group briefing before dinner, giving you the first chance to meet your fellow travellers for the week.
- Day 2 (Sunday)
After a hearty breakfast and a final equipment check we start out on the first ride of the tour – heading first west around the shores of Lough Neagh and then north along the valley of the tranquil River Bann as it makes its way towards the Atlantic Ocean. The more ambitious may choose to ride the whole way – around 60 miles – but for those who want an easier first day there is the option of a transfer to Portglenone on the Bann and starting your ride there. The ride is through pastoral landscapes on very quiet country lanes. Our Destination is the Brown Trout Inn in the village of Agahadowey. There is a 9 hole for any who arrive early and like the idea of playing a few holes in Ireland before dinner.
- Day 3 (Monday)
Leaving Aghadowey we continue to follow the Bann north to the market town of Coleraine, where we we cross over to the west side of the river and follow the coast to Downhill to visit Mussenden Temple and the Bishop’s Palace, built by the eccentric Bishop of Derry. Hazlett House, a very old farmhouse in the care of the National Trust, shows what life was like in this part of Ireland in the 1600s and 1700s. There is an (optional) challenging extension over the Binevenagh Plateau – the tough climb is rewarded with great views over Lough Foyle to the hills of Donegal. Returning to Coleraine we ride east along the coast through the pretty coastal resort towns of Portrush and Portstewart to visit the fabulously sited ruins of Dunluce Castle, one of Ireland’s most photographed sites. The village of Bushmills provides our accommodation for the next two nights in the Causeway Hotel.
- Day 4 (Tuesday)
There is so much to see and do around Bushmills that you may decide just to use your bicycle as a means to get from one site to the next. Bushmills is home to the world’s oldest licensed distillery – Old Bushmills Whiskey is one of Ireland’s finest. You can tour the distillery and sample some of its products – and perhaps pick up a souvenir or two. Just a short distance from Bushmills is the fabulous Giant’s Causeway, a world heritage site – with its modern and very informative visitor centre. Although the Causeway itself is well worth visiting as a geological phenomenon, it is the surrounding coastline that is the real star of the show – you can choose to hike along the cliff path for several miles – a real delight for those who appreciate magnificent seascapes. Those who need their daily fix of riding need not worry – there are several loop options of varying length and degree of challenge.
- Day 5 (Wednesday)
Leaving Bushmills we ride east, hugging the marvellous Causeway Coast. The short 13 mile stretch between Bushmills and Ballycastle is again packed with sites of interest. There are the ruins of Dunseverick Castle, the scenic fishing hamlet of Portbradden where you can view the smallest church in Ireland, the glorious sweep of Whitepark Bay and impossibly pretty Ballintoy Harbour. Just past Ballintoy is the famous rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede on which you can test your nerve if you are so inclined. Between Carrck-a-Rede and Ballycastle is yet another spectacularly located Kinbane Castle. On arrival in the bustling resort of Ballycastle, you have the option to explore the town, perhaps go for a swim – or ride a challenging Loop around Torr Head from where you can view the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland – just a few miles away across the ocean. We overnight at the Marine Hotel, overlooking the harbour.
- Day 6 (Thursday)
From Ballycastle we make a gentle ascent up beautiful Glenshesk (the sedgy glen) – one of the 9 renowned Glens of Antrim – eventually arriving at the ancient Armoy Round Tower. There is a bit more climbing to the top of the Antrim Plateau, rewarded with a glorious descent down Glendun (the glen of the dark river) to meet the coast at the beautiful village of Cushendun, which boasts some very unusual architecture. Turning south we reach Cushendall and the start of the world-renowned Antrim Coast Road, blasted out of the limestone cliffs in the 19th century – and surely one of the world’s most beautiful roads. Around every corner is yet another jaw-dropping vista. Our destination is the coastal village of Carnlough, and the Londonderry Arms –once owned by Sir Winston Churchill.
- Day 7 (Friday)
The last ride of the tour continues on the glorious Antrim Coast Road. Just south of Cushendall you can take a detour up Glenariff (the fertile glen) to view the waterfalls in Glenarrif Forest Park. We ride through the village of Glenarm and past Ballygally Castle and Carnfunnock Country Parken route to the bustling port of Larne - jumping off point for ferries to Scotland. Continuing along the coast we come to historic Carrickfergus, and its remarkably well preserved Norman Castle. As we approach Belfast we pick up the traffic free bike path that takes us safely right into the heart of the city – and the end of our ride! We enjoy out last group dinner at the hotel, and if you have the energy, there is the chance to sample Belfast’s lively nightlife.
- Day 8 (Saturday)
After breakfast we will have a chance for final farewells before heading our separate ways – with memories to last a lifetime.
City to City (10 nights)
New for 2017 We have developed a new tour that links the historical City of Londonderry/Derry with the vibrant, fun city of Belfast by way of the Causeway Coast Road. The Tour will participants the chance to visit the many and varied attractions of the North of Irelands two most fascinating, rejuvenated and historical cities. in between we cycle the beautiful Causeway Coast Road.
Dates and Rates
We had so many requests to include the walled city of Derry/Londonderry in our tour options and to allow more time in Belfast. Well, we listened, and we have developed this Guided tour for 2017.
Starting in Derry/Londonderry with its 1450 years of history for a two night stay giving you a chance to fully explore this former City of culture.
Working our way to and through the beautiful Causeway Coast Road, with 2 night stopovers in Bushmills and Ballycastle and I night stopovers in Aghadowey and Carnlough. We cycle into Belfast for a final 2-night stopover. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones we can show you various places that feature in this series along the way.
When you are on a two-night stopover we offer you cycling and non-cycling options and we have I-night group dinner and one night when you choose your own dining option.
If you like history, beautiful scenery, great cycling, friendly people and a fascinating insight into the culture of the North of Ireland then we think this is the tour for you. The cycling is suitable for all levels of experience and you will be accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable local guide all the way.
- Day 1 (Saturday)
We meet at the Da Vinchi hotel in Derry/Londonderry at 5 pm for introductions followed by the bike fitting. There will be drinks at a pre-dinner briefing at about 6.45pm followed by our first group dinner - an opportunity to ask any questions and get to know your fellow travellers.
- Day 2 (Sunday - Free day City of Derry/Londonderry)
A chance to explore Derry/Londonderry at your own pace or an opportunity to do a loop ride around the southern part of the Inishowen Peninsula to experience some of the famed Wild Atlantic Way. The walled city of Derry/Londonderry has a host of historical visitor attractions including the city walls, the Peace Bridge, the Guildhall, the Tower Museum, St Columb’s Cathedral and the Museum of Free Derry A host of sightseeing tours are available.
Tonight you have the opportunity to visit some of the hospitable bars and restaurants within this small city’s centre.
- Day 3 (Monday - Cycling Derry/Londonderry to Limavady)
Monday morning sees us leaving Derry on a National Cycle Network route that will lead us through the beautiful Sperrins to the market town of Limavady where we stay in the Roe Valley Hotel on the banks of the River Roe. This is wonderful cycling through beaautiful northern Irish countryside. The support van will be with you all the way and the days cycling will be followed by a group meal.
- Day 4 (Tuesday - Limavady to Bushmills)
We set off towards the Atlantic Ocean and clinb over the Binevenagh Plateau with its spectacular views tacross Lough Foyle to Donegal. We follow the Coast Road through the resort towns of Portstewart and Portrush and on to Bushmills where we stay in the Causeway Hotel. En route attractions include the Bishops Gate, Musseden Temple, Hazlett’s House and the remarkable Dunluce Castle. A group dinner this evening gives you a chance to share your stories over a pint of Guinness or a crafted glass of Bushmills.
- Day 5 (Wednesday - Free day Bushmills)
There is a much to see and do in the Bushmills area. The Bushmills Distillery and the Giants Causeway are “musts” but there are also fabulous walks and an optional cycle loop which takes you to the much photographed Dark Hedges. If you fancy a game of golf we can arrange that at one of the superb coastal links courses in the area. A free dinner night will allow you to source the cuisine of your choice.
- Day 6 (Thursday - Bushmills to Ballycastle)
A short ride today along fabulous coastline, with lots to do and see. Whitepark Bay, Ballintoy Harbour and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge are all places at which you should linger, with many other photo opportunities along the way. On arrival in the bustling resort of Ballycastle, we check into into the Marine Hotel which overlooks the pretty harbour.
- Day 7 (Friday - Free day - Ballycastle)
Option for the free day include trip to Rathlin Island, six miles off the coast, some great cycling loops on the coast, riding the challenging but spectacular Torr Head loop or taking a hike to Fair Head. Or you may choose to simply relax by browsing in the town’s many astisan shops.
- Day 8 (Saturday - Ballycastle to Carnlough)
Depending on your chosen itinerary from yesterday, you make your way either by the coast or over the Antrim Plateau Glens we make our way to the quaint village of Cushendun and then on to Cushendall for lunch. Continuing south down the world-renowned Antrim Coast Road to the Londonderry Arms Hotel (once owned by Sir Winston Churchill) where we stay the night.
- Day 9 (Sunday - Carnlough to Belfast)
Continuing down the Coast Road towards Belfast we pedal through the towns of Larne and Carrickfergus, stopping to visit historic Carrickfergus Castle, one of the best preserved Norman castles in Ireland. There is also also the opportunity to do the famous Gobbins coastal walk on Islandmagee between Larne and Carrickfergus. (This attraction, not for the faint hearted, needs to be booked in advance as it is guided only). Our first night in Belfast is a free dining night and we will provide a list of recommended bars and restaurants close to your hotel.
- Day 10 (Monday - Free Day Belfast)
We will be running our Belfast city bike tour exclusively for our City to City group this morning. This 3-hour tour is a great way to learn about Belfast, its history, geography, its culture and its hopes for the future. We will see the city centre, the Cathedral Quarter, the Titanic Quarter, the University and the Gaeltacht Quarter. In the afternoon when the tour is over and during free time there will be a chance to spend time at one of Belfast’s most famous - the Titanic Experience. In the evening we meet as a group at around for our last dinner dinner when we say our fondest farewells to you before your next day departure.
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