A club day out on Loop Head in west Clare.
Since we drew a line under our club sportive around the Dingle Peninsula in 2016, we have looked for something to fill that gap. Hence doing a club day-out that’s a little different to the norm.
Over the past two years this has gravitated its way over to west Clare and the Loop Head Peninsula. Prehaps the draw to that particular area is for years it’s been somewhat of a flirt with us. As we navigate around Kerry Head and north Kerry, it’s there, just over the water. The white lighthouse gleaming in the distance on a fine day or shrouded in mystery when the mist rolls in. It’s just waiting to be explored.
Going back 12 months to our first jaunt over there. Things started off quite well weather wise only to end in miserably with a wet, windy and extremely cold finish. On Saturday morning the clouds were thick and Clare looked wet and misty as we met in Tarbert for the 8:30 ferry crossing.
Once over to the other side at Killimer we divided into 4 groups of 10 and headed west towards Kilrush. Although very much the same country, you sense something quite different to what the Kerry landscape has to offer. This part of Clare is hilly. Nothing too severe but all the same you are never too far from a bump on the landscape. Early on as we cycled past Moneypoint towards Kilrush the mist descended and for a few minutes the drizzle started. I suppose it was natures way of reminding us that summer was now officially over!
Once clear of Kilrush the landscape levels out as the N67 leads you towards Kilkee. For us Kilkee was something for later as we swung in a south-westerly direction soon after Moyasta towards Loop Head. Immediately the roads become more countryfied and the traffic volume drops. We weaved our way through the villages of Querrin and Doonaha before entering potentially the largest village on the peninsula, Carrigaholt. With more time it would certainly be a nice place to explore (although our 22 group did just that before heading west towards Cross) as it sits on the coast and has a very eye-catching and historic feel to it. After Carrigaholt we flirted with the coast line before moving slightly in land, before our main stop in Kilbaha and the excellent Keatings Bar. At this stage the sun was beating down and this could quite easily have been a quiet village in the Mediterranean. The set up at Keatings was first class as we took advantage of the outdoor tables overlooking the harbour. The food was tasty and the service was slick. Exactly what 40 cyclists are looking for!
Had we let our guard down that break could easily have been the end of the road. It was one of those days! Onwards and up (literally) we tackled a steady climb to the centre piece of the trip Aill Na Brun or the lighthouse. It was magnificent! The views across to Kerry were breathtaking and Kerry Head looked a stones throw away. Again it could quite easily have been a spot were you’d of happily spent an hour or so.
As we turned at the lighthouse, this pretty much marked the halfway point to the trip. We turned and headed north west with a light breeze on our backs. After 2 km a left fork in the road led us downhill and on the road to Kilkee and Cross village. Our momentum was interupted only slightly by a well worth visit to the Bridges of Ross, an area of diminishing sea-bridges and a coastline of ancient volcanic activity. The temptation could easily have been to stay on the slick R487 and speed into Kilkee. Thankfully we followed the Wild Atlantic Way signs and viewed the magnificent coastline and the Kilkee cliffs. This was another high point of the cycle. The decent into Kilkee town was fast and before we knew it we were relaxing close to the sheltered bay and beach. Before leaving we re-fueled with a snack and a drink leaving ourselves a good hour to make the mid afternoon ferry. The N67 back to Kilrush was busy with traffic and from a cycling perspective fast. As expected the final 8 km to Killimer was hilly, but everyone made it back in good time, tired but contented.