Your first day will be spent travelling to the coastal town of Kinsale, where you will check into your accommodation and explore this picturesque port town ahead of your Wild Atlantic Way cycling trip. Regarded as the gourmet capital of Ireland, there is no shortage of restaurants, cafés and pubs to suit every taste and budget. Only 30 minutes drive from Cork City, Kinsale marks the gateway to the famous, scenic area of West Cork; and the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way.
2 Kinsale to Clonakilty - 45km
5H | +546m / -596m
You will set off from Kinsale this morning on the first day of your Wild Atlantic Way cycling trip. Crossing the Bandon River, you will cycle to the ruined watchtower on the Old Head of Kinsale. Leaving Old Head Peninsula, you will continue along the coast until you reach the seaside village of Laherne Hill, which marks the half way point of today’s cycling. Turning inland for a while, along quiet boreens (meaning small country roads in Irish) you will cross the River Arigideen at the village of Timoleague, home to a beautiful ruin of a 13th century Franciscan Abbey, positioned by the water’s edge. Just a few more kilometres to cycle today before you reach your destination for the evening: Clonakilty.
Clonakilty is well known for its local black pudding, so do not be surprised if it features in some way on most menus in the town. On an international front Clonakilty is best known as the birthplace of the Michael Collins (1890-1922) Irish revolutionary and chairman of the Provisional Government of Ireland.
3 Clonakilty to Skibbereen - 63km
5H | +648m / -651m
From Clonakilty, having tried its famous black pudding, the Wild Atlantic Way cycling trail follows the coastline past Inchydoney Island to a sandy beach outside Dunowen and then on to the village of Rosscarbery, the site of prehistoric dolmens and remnants of ring forts. Rosscarbery is roughly the half-way point of your cycle today. A few kilometres outside the village on the way to Glandore, you will pass the Drombeg stone circle. A short detour is needed to reach the site which is open to the public all year round. From Glandore to your accommodation in Skibbereen you will pass the Shreelane Lakes and cycle along roads flanked on either side by lush farm land, predominantly grazing land for cattle.
Skibbereen was a thriving industrial town, well known for the production of woollen and linen cloth, but the industry was severely damaged during the Irish famine (between 1845 and 1852). There is a famine trail starting in the town square and leading to a memorial in the grounds of Abbeystrewry Church, where it is estimated that roughly 10,000 victims of the Irish famine are buried. There is also a heritage centre hosting a permanent famine exhibition.
4 Skibbereen to Schull - 50km
6H | +517m / -477m
Today, you will continue on this first section of the Wild Atlantic Way cycling from Skibbereen and heading for the charming fishing village of Baltimore. Originally settled by a colony of Normans around 1169, the village still maintains remnants of this past including Dun na Sead Castle. It is now a private residence but open to the public on selected days of the year.
Returning to the saddle once more you will make your way back to Skibbereen, crossing Meem Bridge and Sealaclare Bridge on the way to Ballydehob. A magnificent 12-arched railway bridge dominates the estuary of Ballydehob, this pretty village is a few kilometres from your accommodation in Schull.
5 Schull to Mizen Peninsula - 39km
4H | +292m / -314m
After a hearty breakfast you will depart from Schull heading for Toormore Bay. The area is home to an impressive 4,000 year old alter tomb. Leaving the coast once more, the Wild Atlantic Way takes you to Goleen, cycling on quiet rural roads, among sheep farming land. From here you will head along a coastal road along the edge of Crookhaven harbour. You will pass Barley Cove with its beautiful sandy beach, where you can go for a swim.
From Barley Cove, your Wild Atlantic Way cycling route will wind its way along a quiet rural road to Mizen Head, Ireland’s most Southerly point. Here you will have the option to explore Mizen Head visitor centre, signal station, Fastnet Hall, arched bridge and cafés (Admission €6 Adults. No charge to enter the café). From here you will make your way back along the peninsula to your accommodation for the night.
6 Mizen Peninsula to Kilcrohane - 58km
6H | +570 / -544m
From your accommodation you will make your way back to the village of Toormore before heading northwards to cross the peninsula. You will pass through an area of low rolling hills which were once home to copper mines during the Bronze Age. There is a huge amount of archaeological sites in the area with stone circles, ring forts and standing stones in abundance.
When you reach the charming village of Durrus you will turn to travel to the tip of the wonderful Sheep’s Head peninsula which is one of the most unspoilt parts of the country. Your accommodation for tonight is in the village of Kilcrohane.
7 Kilcrohane to Glengarriff - 41km
5H | +419m / -449m
Your second day, the Wild Atlantic Way will take you from Kilcrohane along the Northern coastline of the Sheeps Head Peninsula to Glengarriff. Enjoy stunning views of the Beara Peninsula, Whiddy Island and Glengarriff Bay to your left as you return to Bantry. Bantry will be the half-way point for the day and an ideal location for a leisurely lunch before continuing on your journey to Glengarriff and your accommodation for the evening.
After breakfast your Wild Atlantic Way cycling tour with us comes to an end.
Ask the IrelandWays.com team if you would like to add an extra night to rest and soak up the atmosphere in the seaside town of Glengarriff or a transfer back to Cork, to enjoy the bustle of Ireland’s third largest city. The ancient city of Cork dates back to the 6th century and there is a wealth of history and culture to explore, including stone circles, castles, manor houses, walled gardens and of course the famous English Market.