21 June 23 – Buncrana to Moville – 89km
Well we couldn’t sit still for too long, so after a break of a week we decided to take the bikes out again and ‘finish’ our journey properly by going all the way up to Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point, and around the Inishowen peninsula. This hadn’t ever been in our plan but we were getting restless and the weather forecast was really good so we decided to lightly pack the bikes with a couple of lunches and some clothes and booked a B+B in Moville for Wednesday night.
We’ve been to Malin Head before and so we know that it would be a nice ride and the first bit out of Buncrana didn’t disappoint. Within half an hour it felt pretty remote with sheep in the road, moorland and craggy outcrops around us. We were steadily climbing and the final part up through Pinch was pretty hard, but on light bikes we were up it in no time…
The views inland were pretty spectacular too, all the way to the King and Queen of Minches, two huge lumps of rock which are well known landmarks around here…
We stopped in Ballylifin for a coffee and a scone (old habits!) and then on to Malin village and out along the beautiful coast…
There were constant hills which, although not too steep, did keep going for a long time, but we made it to Malin Head for lunch. There is a large 80 EIRE in white stones at the actual headland along with some WW2 buildings. This was a lookout post during the war and the 80 EIRE was a visual aid for allied pilots to help them navigate and to tell then that they were over neutral territory. There are others around the coast of Ireland.
Back on the bikes we headed to Glengad past very rural and remote scenery and then turned southeast to Culdaff and finally to Moville. Just as we were freewheeling down to the town the rain came on, but only enough to make us damp. We were very happy with our B+B which was very reasonable price-wise, and after a shower we were out for a beer and an enormous early-bird dinner. Suitably stuff we wandered around Moville and while there isn’t a huge amount to see we both decided we liked it a lot. It’s very pleasant place to stay. We finished off the evening with a bit of television, which we haven’t been able to do much of on this trip
22 June 23 – Moville to Buncrana – 40km
We had an enormous fry-up for breakfast and I reckon we were definitely in calorie credit for the day after all we ate! It’s amazing that after such a short time off the bike how much we both ached this morning!
The road to Muff (now there’s a statement!) is a main road and we had some trepidation getting on it, but actually it wasn’t as busy as we’d expected. A few cars did get a bit close, but in all it was actually a nice ride with some super views of Lough Foyle…
A quick coffee stop in Muff itself and then we tackled what we knew to be a pretty tough hill on the back road to Buncrana. More great views towards Lough Foyle the more we climbed…
and once we got to the top there were some great views to Lough Swilly too. It’s nearly downhill all the way to Buncrana, which was nice after the long climb, and we were sat having lunch overlooking Castle Bridge in no time.
Our journey finally ended after a total of 2,205km.
A round up of Ireland from a Blow In.
Normally we would do a round up of the countries we have visited, our view as outsiders looking in so-to speak. As one of us comes from Ireland and the other one has been a regular visitor for a fair few years this initially didn’t seem worth while. However, as a ‘blow-in’ (husband/wife of a native Irish spouse) I feel that I can still comment on what I observed.
- Overall Ireland is fairly tidy and we didn’t see much litter. Rather annoyingly where we did see a lot of litter it was more often-than-not in the most rural and out-of-the-way places. Folk just chucking litter out of their cars, grrr!
- Inaccurate signposts – on quite a few occasions we saw signposts which wildly contradicted each other. For example, one in particular showed the distance to our destination as 19km and over the road, and no more than 50m away, was another saying it was 16km away! Which was correct?? We will never know!
- A few regular Irish sayings you won’t find in the usual Hollywood rubbish (for example, ‘top of the morning to you’, no one ever says that!).
- Work away – feel free – for example, ‘Would you mind if I had some of that toast and jam?’ ‘Work away’.
- Happy out – if a child, for example, is playing happily on their own they’re said to be happy out. Not necessarily reserved for children, but that’s where it is used most and can be plural.
- All right lads – lads can be any gender, a little like using ‘guys’ to a mixed group. This is a metaphorical question and doesn’t require a reply.
- ‘How ya doing’?’ As a form of greeting. The answer isn’t ‘I’m well thank you’ it’s a return of ‘How ya doing’. Usually accompanied with a slight nod of the head.
- Every county has its GAA teams, that is Gaelic football, hurling and camogie (women’s hurling) teams and these county teams have their colours. Unlike anywhere else I have been there is huge support for the county teams and a large proportion of the houses will have county flags flying. You don’t see this for soccer or cricket or any other sport as far as I am aware, in the world. Interesting to see where there are 2 or more different county flags outside some houses where there are obviously split loyalties.
- Every car licence plate has either one or two letters in the middle. These show where the car was registered when first bought. Endless fun can be had by trying to figure out which county the cars come from, especially some of the more unusual counties! CW anyone?
- Where the U.K. has lots of pigeons Ireland has an abundance of corvids (crows, rooks, ravens, jackdaws and magpies). Most noticeably in the south of the country, but there’s definitely more here than at home.
- For cyclists the roads have ranged from really nice and smooth to potholed nightmares, but in general they were okay. Some of the more rural roads had quite a bit of grass growing in the middle and the hedges were quite overgrown, but still cyclable. Not unlike Devon!
- There are new laws in Ireland with regards cars having to remain 1.5m away from cyclists. In general the drivers have been courteous and patient with us and only on a few occasions has a car got a bit too close to us. I could count on one hand the amount of times we’ve sworn at someone and only once given the finger!
- The influx of Ukrainians and other refugees has led to a lack of tourist accommodation. Much of Ireland’s low-cost hotels have been given over to refugees which means that there is a definite lack of lower price accommodation.
- There is a distinct lack of dustbins (bruscar in Gaelic, just to show that I have picked up some of the lingo!) for public use. In Ireland the public have to pay to have their rubbish taken away from their homes (we do too in the U.K., it’s just within our council tax rather than a separate payment). We think that the lack of bins is probably due to homeowners filling bins up with household waste to avoid paying to have their rubbish taken away. Burning rubbish is common practice.
- There is also a lack of public toilets and on more than one occasion when we found a public loo it was locked when it definitely should have been open. We obviously made other arrangements!
- The most common foreign tourists were from Germany and France, though there were also coach-loads of Americans at the more popular tourist spots, such as the Cliffs of Moher.
- We’ve seen quite a bit of turf being cut and dried across Ireland, so it is still a common practice on an individual but not industrial scale. There is a unique smell to burning turf, which I actually find quite pleasant and a smell which I absolutely associate with being in Ireland. It’s rather like a sweet-smelling bonfire with a hint of brewery and marmite!