Knowing today was going to be tough, we did our best to get a reasonably early start, so breakfast was at 07.45 and we were on the road by 08.30. The climb out of Newry was a bit of a ‘jump-start’ but we soon picked up an excellent cycle path running alongside the motorway which took us to Dundalk. Navigation has been a challenge, us going mapless and all, so we struggled to find the designated route at times, but by heading in the right general direction and keeping the sea on our left, we got to our coffee time stop in the right place and pretty much on time. Foley’s tea rooms, at Castlebellingham, was a welcome break at the 22 mile point, with plenty of real Irish ambience. We soon found the road to Drogheda, which was about the half way point and our designated lunch stop – getting in was easy, it being situated on the banks of the river Boyne, in a natural hollow. Lunch was courtesy of McDonalds and then it was time to go…Given our aforementioned navigational issues, we had three attempts to escape from Drogheda. On each occasion this involved a sustained climb out of the town for a distance of a couple of miles, only to discover that we were on the wrong road and we had to return to the town centre! We did eventually locate the R108 and managed to escape, but it put half a dozen unnecessary miles onto an already long day. The R108 eventually took us all the way to the centre of Dublin, a distance of about 45 miles, giving a day total of a massive 77 miles or 123k! We did enjoy a totally unexpected afternoon tea stop in the village of Naul when we came upon the Seamus Ennis cultural centre – Seamus is a bit of a cult figure to both Bry and me, being one of the grand masters of the uillean pipes. We eventually got to Dublin at about 6.00pm and successfully met up with Jane, who had flown out specially to be with us on our rest day – at the half way point in our epic journey.
Stats for the days ride are given below:
Inside Foley’s tea rooms – coffee and curios
Bryan preparing to depart after enjoying Foley’s Irish hospitality
The (distant) Mountains of Mourne – what we should have seen the day before!
Lost in Drogheda…but not for the last time!
The ‘shrine’ to the revered uillean pipe player, Seamus Ennis – the cultural centre in Naul, Fingal County
…and the legend himself.
Not a great deal to report on the birding front I’m afraid – just two Common Swift to add to the list.
More ‘rest day’ blogging tomorrow, with some Dublin pics to enjoy.