Perfect for those who want the challenge of cycling to the end of the country; this is a short break with a large sense of achievement. Three nights accommodation and evening meals, accompanied by two days cycling in which you will cover 75km. This package has a good mix of different terrain levels and is a great taster of all the area has to offer.
Your accommodation for this first night will be at one of our partner hotels in Ballyliffin: The Strand Hotel or The Ballyliffin Hotel. Those of you using our complimentary transfer service from Derry/Londonderry are welcome to avail of this service at any point throughout the day but we do advise that you arrive in time to enjoy your included three course evening meal and take a walk along the epic Pollan beach. Ballyliffin also has two world class golf courses. If you are driving to Ballyliffin you can park securely at your hotel for the duration of your stay and we will drop you back to your car at the end of the trip. The Cycle Inishowen team will be paying you a visit to deliver your bikes and other equipment. We will help you make slight adjustments to the bike to ensure that you will be comfortable for the forthcoming days and answer any questions that you may have. You have the use of the bikes for the remainder of the day; the neighbouring town of Clonmany has a waterfall and nature trail that are well worth a visit. At this stage you will receive the detailed itinerary and route maps for the upcoming cycling which you might like to look over this evening.
Ballyliffin to Malin
Option of 25km, 30km or 35km
This morning you will explore the ‘sub-peninsula’ of the Isle of Doagh, an outcrop into Trawbreaga Bay with long sandy beaches and quiet roads – ideal for cycling. At the extreme tip of the Isle of Doagh is the 16th century Carrickabraghy Castle. There is a restoration project underway on this castle which has stood for over four hundred years against the full force of the Atlantic. Just next to the castle is a blowhole known as ‘Hissing Rock’. Malin is a fissure in the rock which sprays the water from the swell up high into the air, if the sea is rough and the wind high this spray can reach incredible heights. The Famine Village is the biggest visitor attraction on Doagh; this settlement of original thatched cottages has been transformed into an interactive museum experience of life in Ireland from the 1845 famine to the present day. Guided tours are offered daily.
Having explored here you rejoin the road to Carndonagh, which you will be visiting as you follow the outline of Trawbreaga Bay. This town is a good spot to stop for lunch and on your way into the town you will see the Donagh Cross, a very early and unusual example of an Irish Christian cross, with two small decorative standing stones on either side. There are several cafés in Carndonagh to grab a bite to eat before carrying on your way to Malin, where you’ll be staying tonight at the Malin Hotel.
Malin is a very picturesque small town, featuring whitewashed walls, a well-kept village green with antique phone box and an unusual many-arched bridge over the Ballyboe River. As you prepare to cross the bridge if you look to your left you will see a bird-watching hut from which you can spend the afternoon watching the wildlife this ever-changing bay attracts. Directly opposite this on your right is Malin Stables, an equestrian centre offering pony and horse trekking along the country roads or the shore of Trawbreaga. Every summer Malin hosts a raft race to raise money for the local lifeboats; this is accompanied by live music and entertainment on the green. Lily’s Bar and Tearoom next to your hotel is a traditional pub with regular music sessions, now also open during the day as a tea room.
Malin to Culdaff
Today’s cycling will take you up to Malin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland and a must-see for any visitor to Inishowen. From Malin you hug the coast alongside Trawbreaga Bay and the beach at Lagg. This is a good, gentle start to what will be a more challenging day.
As you reach the extreme north of the peninsula the terrain grows more difficult and, depending on how much you want to push yourself, there are different route options to choose from. All the options however lead to Banba’s Crown, the extreme tip of the country and the end of the Mizen Head to Malin Head racing route. From here you can have a coffee from the Caffe Banba gourmet coffee van and look out across the sea to Scotland. The sea around Malin Head is an International Research and Conservation Area as it is so popular with basking sharks, especially in the summer time. Other visitors include pods of dolphins and killer whales, so keep your eyes open!
On the peak of Banba’s Crown stands a sulking concrete tower, a World War II lookout station. This building, which was originally Napoleonic but sadly rebuilt, still keeps a watchful eye on the sea below and the stone letters spelling É-I-R-E beneath it – marking us as neutral territory to avoid any airborne confusion in wartime! These days you’d be best to use this vantage point to look out to sea, where between Scotland and the ground you stand on you will see the island of Inishtrahull and the rocks of Tor.
We suggest you have your lunch in Malin Head; there are several options to choose from, before continuing to the fishing village of Glengad. The route then zigzags along, following back roads and avoiding the beaten track, taking you to Culdaff where you will be staying in the family-run McGrory’s Hotel tonight. We recommend that you spend the remainder of the day at Culdaff’s beautiful Blue Flag beach. You are welcome to use the bikes the following morning before you depart for home or to continue your Ireland adventure.
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