AN IRISH DELIGHT
Atlantic Way has lots to offer
The Wild Atlantic Way is an epic, 1500-mile coastal route that devours six regions of Ireland, each with their own character and dramatic, beautiful scenery. The route follows a circular path from the bustling town of Killarney, which doubles up as a great base to explore this stunning part of the country.
From Killarney take the tree-lined N71, part of the famous Ring of Kerry, south-west out of the town, through the centre of Killarney National Park and start to climb. Cut into the mountain-side, the road is narrow and hugs tightly to the rock face. At one of many designated viewing spots, Ladies View, take a moment to park up and admire the valley below.
The road narrows further and there’s a dramatic arch cut into the rock face that’s well signposted – but can catch you out as it’s round a sharp bend with oncoming traffic in the middle of the carriageway. At Moll’s Gap, another stunning viewing point, course through the mountains, the road widens as you head towards Kenmare.
Make sure you’re fully fuelled up as the route becomes more isolated once you pick up the signed ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ towards the Ring of Beara. Over the River Kenmare turn immediately right onto the R571.
With the river to the right and mountains on the left it’s a lovely stretch of flat, sweeping bends. You soon start to climb again and the sweepers make way for tighter turns. There’s a smattering of hamlets along the route and various cafes with plenty of parking.
At Faunkill follow the Ring of Beara signs, turn right onto the L4910, which becomes a single track road. Strewn with gravel and at points with grass growing down the centre it will make for slow progress. With every twist and turn you’re rewarded with dramatic views. It’s not a busy stretch but take care, there are few passing places and at points the road drops away.
The circular route is well signposted and returns to the small village of Ardgrooom where you can turn left to retrace the R571 back to Kenmare. Skirt round the centre of town and take a right turn onto the R569 towards Kilgavern. The road is wider with sweeping bends through farmland, there’s opportunity to make swift progress. At the comically named Loo Bridge continue to the junction with the N22 and head left to Killarney for the final ten-mile stretch.
The 100-mile route takes about three hours but keep the whole day free. At all points along the route you can follow brown tourist signs towards other beauty spots, it’s easy to cover lots of miles, lose hours and get sidetracked… but it’s well worth it. ■ Bikefest Ireland, p47
‘With every twist and turn you’re rewarded with dramatic views’