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Grand Southwest Ireland Self-Guided

Grand Southwest Ireland Self-Guided

Ireland Flag Ireland

  • Region Region South West of Ireland
  • Tour Type Tour Type Self Guided (Open Departure)
  • Duration Duration 14 days
  • Bike Type Bike Types Road, Hybrid, Touring & e-bike

Core Route

725 Kilometres
2 (Moderate) Difficulty Level: 2 (Moderate)
Average Distance per Day: 56 km
0 100 km
Average Elevation Gain per Day: 649 km
0 1500 km

Extended Route

490 Kilometres
2 (Moderate) Difficulty Level: 2 (Moderate)
Average Distance per Day: 70 km
0 100 km
Average Elevation Gain per Day: 1000 km
0 1500 km
April - October from
€1495
Next Steps

This comprehensive itinerary encompasses all five peninsulas of the South West and includes McGillicuddy’s Reeks and Gougane Barra. Mizen Head, Sheeps Head, the Beara Peninsula, the Iveragh Peninsula and the Dingle Peninsula are explored in turn. This is a wonderful (and fairly challenging) itinerary.

From the start point in Killarney, you begin your riding with a beautiful loop south of Killarney, taking in the famous Gap of Dunloe. From Killarney you then head toward Gougane Barra on tiny country roads. From Gougane Barra there are a couple of options in getting to Bantry. You may want to take on the slightly more challenging Sheep’s Head Peninsula. You then have two nights in the extremely pretty Bantry, with a loop ride via Mizen Head the most southernly point on the Irish mainland.

From Bantry we then head north along the coastline toward the quaint fishing port of Castletownbere, where there is another two night stay, with several loop options available, including around the Beara Peninsula, where you can take the cable car across to Dursey Island. From Castletownbere you head toward Kenmare via the stunning, and quite challenging Healy Pass. From Kenmare we then head west round the world famous Ring of Kerry, before arriving in Waterville for a two-night stay. A potential loop ride from here takes you out to The Skelligs via a small boat. From Waterville we ride away from the coastline toward Killorgin, and from there onto the lovely town of Dingle. From Dingle you can ride a loop around Slea Head, which is simply stunning. Your final ride takes you over the daunting Conor Pass, before heading back to Killarney via Tralee.

Highlights

  • Visiting Killarney National Park

  • Gougane Barra Lake and Forest Park

  • The views from Mizen Head – Ireland’s most southerly point.

  • The quiet beauty of the Sheeps Head Peninsula

  • A visit to Bantry House

  • The wonderful ride over the Healy Pass

  • Traditional music sessions in Kenmare’s pubs

  • The breathtaking landscapes of the Dingle Peninsula

  • The Skellig Experience Centre

  • Gallarus Oratory

Day 1

Arrive in Killarney. On arriving in Killarney, you can check into your accommodation and pick up your bike and equipment (if renting). Spend the afternoon exploring the town and/or go for a short warm up ride in the Killarney National Park.

2

Killarney Loop 56km / +766m (L, S) The ride is a wonderful loop to the south of Killarney, starting with a gentle ascent up to the much-photographed Gap of Dunloe. From here you drop south into the Black Valley before climbing again to Moll’s Gap. The ride north from here has plenty of magnificent viewpoints over the Killarney Lakes, including Ladies’ View. As you approach Killareny there is the option to turn off into the National Park to visit Muckross House and Ross Castle.

Killarney loop elv

3

Killarney to Gougane Barra 56km / +766m (L) Riding south from the town past Muckross Abbey, you turn east past Lough Guitane to Glenflesk. South from the village you cross over the Roughty River on Morley’s Bridge and start a gradual ascent on tiny country roads to the pass which marks the county border. The route continues through forests and atmospheric moorland before dropping down to the village of Ballingeary – and the chance for refreshments. You might choose at this point to extend the ride with a loop around Lough Allua to the east of the village before riding the final few kilometres to the beautifully located Gougane Barra.

Killarney GGB elv

4

Gougane Barra to Bantry 65km / +749m (L, S)If you didn’t ride the Gougane Barra Forest loop or the Lough Allua loop towards the end of yesterday’s ride, you have the option to do one or both before heading west. After a short ascent, it is downhill all the way to meet the coast at Ballinakill. from where you follow the coast south to Bantry. You may want to visit Bantry House, or for more riding you can tackle the Sheep’s Head peninsula.

GGB Bantry elv

5

Bantry Loop 50km / +629m (L, S) The loop from Bantry takes you south to Mizen Head, the most southerly point on the Irish mainland, and the start point for Mizen Head to Malin Head, Ireland’s end to end ride. En route attractions include Mizen Head Signal House, Crookhaven Harbour, and Altar Wedge Tomb. The village of Durrus is a good stopping off point on both the outward and the return legs.

Bantry Loop elv

6

Bantry to Castletownbere 51km / +531m Riding north along the coast you pass through Ballinakill again before climbing and then dropping down to the pretty resort of Glengarriff. From the pier you can take a boat trip to Garinish Island – you should allow around 3 hours in total if you plan to do this. Leaving Glengarriff you head west along the southern shore of the Beara Peninsula enjoying some wonderful coastal scenery as you ride through Adrigole en route to the bustling fishing port of Castletownbere.

Bantry Castletownbere elv

7

Castletownbere Loop 42km / +710m (L) Today’s loop ride takes you around the western end of the Beara peninsula for more jawdropping seascapes. At the end of the peninsula you can take Ireland’s only cable car across Dursey Sound to Dursey Island – a haven for sea birds. Watch for dolphins in the ocean below. You might find yourself sharing the car with a cow or a couple of sheep! North of Dursey, Allihies Copper Mine is well worth a visit. The evidence of this industry is to be seen all around Allihies in the form of the large Cornish engine houses that housed the magnificent steam engines that made the mining possible.

Castletownbere Loop elv

8

Castletownbere to Kenmare 55km / +695m (L) From Castletownbere you retrace your route from two days before as far as Adrigole. Here you turn north to cross the Peninsula via the beautiful Healy Pass which marks the border between the counties of Cork and Kerry. Dropping down from the pass you can visit Dereen Gardens before stopping for a pub lunch by the harbour in Bunaw. Continuing around the coast, you cross the Kenmare River to arrive in bustling Kenmare.

Castletownbere Kenmare elv

9

Kenmare to Waterville 62km / +748m Riding west from Kenmare you on the legendary Ring of Kerry route that follows a circular path around the Iveragh Peninsula. The quaint village of Sneem offers mid-morning refreshment possibilities. A little further on and you have the option to ride away from the coast to visit Staigue Fort (8km round trip). At the village of Caherdaniel you turn off the Ring to Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell (the Liberator), one of the most revered Irish political leaders of the 19th century. A climb and descent from here brings you into the resort of Waterville at the western tip of the peninsula.

Kenmare waterville elv

10

Waterville Loop 51km / +628m (L, S) Today’s loop ride takes you around the spit of land to the northwest of Waterville through Ballinskelligs to Portmagee. This is the departure point for the boats going to The Skelligs – if you want to include this on your itinerary you will have to book well in advance, and arrive in Portmagee by 09.30am. From the village you have the option to extend the ride by crossing the bridge and riding around Valentia Island before returning to Portmagee and continuing on the last leg back to Waterville.

Waterville loop elv

11

Waterville to Killorglin 57km / +624m From Waterville you leave the Ring of Kerry coastal route, turning inland on quiet country backroads and climbing very gently towards Ballaghisheen Pass in the centre of the peninsula. There is a short steep section just before the summit, rewarded by a great downhill and panoramic views towards McGillacuddy’s Reeks in the distance. The Climbers’ Inn at Glencar is a welcome rest and refreshment halt. From here you have a beautiful ride around the shores of Lough Caragh before turning north to the bustling market town of Killorglin.

Waterville killorglin elv

12

Killorglin to Dingle 56km / +495m Leaving Killorglin you cross the river and strike out north on country backroads to Castlemaine where you turn due west and hug the south coast of Dingle Peninsula, heading for the town after which the peninsula is named. You can stop off at magnificent Inch Beach, used as one of the main locations for filming Ryan’s Daughter. Passing through Annascaul you canenjoy some wonderful ocean vistas on the ride into Dingle.

Killorglin Dingle Elv

13

Dingle Loop 56km / +560m The loop ride around Slea Head to the west of Dingle Town is, quite simply, magnificent. The breath-taking scenery coupled with the numerous sites of interest en route (beehive stone dwellings, Gallarus Oratory, Dunbeg Fort) will give you one of the most memorable day’s riding of your life!

Dingle loop elv

14

Dingle to Killarney 68km / +515m (S) Leaving Dingle, you must first tackle the Conor Pass – a good work out for your legs and lungs to start the day. Dropping down from the pass you then follow the northern shores of the Dingle Peninsula towards Castlegregory and on to Tralee – a convenient lunch stop. The ride from here back to Killarney is on quiet country roads, but if you decide to spend some time exploring Tralee, there is always the option to catch the train back to Killarney.

Dingle Killarney elv

Route Map

Accommodatation

The standard accommodations for this region's self-guided itineraries are guesthouses and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs). Generally, these have between 4 and 10 guest rooms and the owners/providers live on the premises. In almost all cases the bathroom facilities are ensuite (self-contained within the room), and the room facilities usually include a television and tea/coffee making facilities. There is a communal reading / television lounge. Small family run hotels are also used in a few locations. The providers are excellent sources of local information.

Breakfast is always included. Most guesthouses do not offer an evening meal.

When you book a tour, your pre-trip planner will have more details about the specific facilities and services provided by the accommodations.

Examples of our guesthouses in this region include;


Getting there

Dublin Airport

Dublin Bus runs an airport shuttle from Dublin Airport to Dublin City Centre, calling at the main bus station (Busaras) and railway stations (Heuston and Connolly).

From Dublin Heuston Station there are trains to Killarney (change in Mallow).
Bus Eireann runs intercity buses from Dublin Bus Station (Busaras) to Killarney (change in Limerick).

Shannon Airport

There are frequent buses (Bus Eireann) from Shannon Airport to Killarney bus station (2hrs 50 min / every 2 hours with change in Limerick). Alternatively a taxi transfer can be arranged directly to your accommodation in Killarney (reserve in advance).

Kerry Airport

Take a taxi from the airport directly to your accommodation in Killarney (ideally reserve prior to travelling). Alternatively there are frequent (hourly) Bus Eireann buses to Killarney bus station (25 min/every hour).

Cork Airport

Take a taxi from the airport directly to your accommodation in Killarney (ideally reserve prior to travelling). Alternatively there are frequent (hourly) Bus Eireann buses to Killarney bus station (2 hrs 25 min/every hour) - change in Parnell Bus Station in Cork City).

Climate

Ireland's climate is surprisingly mild given its northern location. This is mainly due to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream which brings warm waters up to Western Europe from the more tropical Atlantic zones.

Temperamental is a fitting description of Ireland's weather. It can be very unpredictable! The old adage that it is possible to experience four seasons in one day is close to the truth. During the summertime, the warmest months tend to be July and August, when average temperatures during the day can range from 15ºC to 20ºC. A hot day in summertime could produce temperatures of 22ºC to 24ºC and on rare occasions can exceed 30ºC.

The best time to travel to Ireland for an outdoor trip such as a bicycle tour is from the beginning of May to the end of September. April and October are also possible, but the chances of encountering inclement weather increase. Towards the end of October the days are significantly shorter.

Traditionally May can provide some of the best weather days of the season. The last two weeks in June have the longest days of the year.

July and August are peak travel season for Ireland. The first weekend in August (a public holiday weekend) is the busiest of the season. School holidays are from the end of June until the end of August.

The latter half of September sees the change to autumn colours.

Core Tour Cost €1495
Luggage Transfers €585 (per couple)
Hybrid Bike Rental €245
Touring Bike Rental €275
Road Bike Rental €290
E-Bike Rental €335
Single supplement €455


€1495 per person sharing, to include;

  • 14 nights' accommodation with breakfast
  • Pre-Trip Information Booklet and Planner
  • On call telephone support
  • All mapping, routes and cue sheets with gpx tracks
  • Meet, greet and bike fitting


Luggage Transfers

  • Luggage transfer charges are calculated as follows:

    The standard charge is based on one or two riders. A couple would therefore share the luggage transfer costs. There is then a small additional fee for the third and each additional person.
    For example:

    1. Total cost for one or two riders = €590 (295) per person based on two people sharing)
    2. Total cost for three riders = 590+ 30= €620 (€207 per person)
    3. Total cost for four riders = 590 + 30 + 30 =€650 €162 per person)

Note that the more riders in the group, the less expensive are the luggage transfers per rider.

Please note that whilst we will try our best to provide you with the exact bike as listed below, due to availability or sizing issues we may not always be able to. The bike you will receive will be of a very similar spec and always in very good condition.

Trek FX hybrid

  • 5 frame sizes
  • FX Alpha Gold Aluminium
  • FX Alloy fork
  • 27 speed

Bring your own saddle and/or pedals if you wish and we will fit them to the bike. (You must be able to remove them yourself at the end of your trip).

Fitted with: Rear rack; platform pedals, bottle cage, fenders (mudguards)

Equipment provided: Handlebar bag; map case; spare tube; puncture repair kit; lock; mini pump; multitool.

Available on request: Panniers, helmet, odomoter, gps unit

Ridgeback Panorama Touring Bike

  • Full shimano drive
  • Disc brakes
  • Full length mudguards
  • 27 Speed.

Bring your own saddle and/or pedals if you wish and we will fit them to the bike. (You must be able to remove them yourself at the end of your trip)

Fitted with: Rear rack; platform pedals, bottle cage, fenders (mudguards)

Equipment provided: Handlebar bag; map case; spare tube; puncture repair kit; lock; mini pump; multitool.

Available on request: Panniers, helmet, odomoter, gps unit

Fuji Sportif Road Bike

  • A2-SL double-butted alloy frame
  • Shimano Sora 2x9 components
  • Vittoria Zaffiro 700x30c tires

Bring your own saddle and/or pedals if you wish and we will fit them to the bike. (You must be able to remove them yourself at the end of your trip)

Fitted with: Platform pedals, bottle cage,

Equipment provided: map case; spare tube; puncture repair kit; lock; mini pump; multitool, frame bag

Available on request: Panniers, helmet, odomoter, gps unit

Fuji E-Traverse E-Bike

  • Suntour NEX disc fork
  • Bafang H400 rear hub motor
  • Bafang 5 mode LED display w/walk assist
  • Shimano Gearing

Bring your own saddle and/or pedals if you wish and we will fit them to the bike. (You must be able to remove them yourself at the end of your trip).

Fitted with: Rear rack; platform pedals, bottle cage, fenders (mudguards)

Equipment provided: Handlebar bag; map case; spare tube; puncture repair kit; lock; mini pump; multitool.

Available on request: Panniers, helmet, odomoter, gps unit

Next Steps

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