You can feel more relaxed, more welcome here than in almost any other country in the world. Ireland is famous for its atmosphere, with good reason.
This tour is designed to take in some of the very best the west and north of this little country has to offer with a perfect mix of breath-taking scenery, excellent biking, lively towns, ancient history and a fantastic cultural experience Ireland is famed for. From Clifden to Belfast our itinerary takes us along the lacy shoreline of loughs, coves, islands and bogs of the Bay Coast to the the Surf Coast. Thrill seekers and sensitive souls alike lose their hearts to the Surf Coast, where pounding waves and poetic silence exist side by side. Leaving the Surf Coast we arrive at the Northern Headlands – Rocky, Remote & Romantic. From the sheer granite walls of some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs at Sliabh League to lonely Fanad Head Lighthouse and Ireland’s most Northerly point at Malin Head. Untouched, off-radar and crying out for exploration, this rugged and remote area marks the north-western corridor of the Wild Atlantic Way. Entering Northern Ireland we embark on a journey along the Causeway Coastal Route – Rated as one of the top five road trips in the world and voted the Number 1 Region in the World to visit by Lonely Planet in 2018, it offers the perfect combination of rugged coastline, dramatic towering cliffs, gorgeous little villages / towns with mythical stories and warm hospitable people.
While the WAW is the backbone to part of this tour; it’s all the extras that make it the perfect itinerary from Clifden to Belfast. Who hasn’t heard of the Wild Atlantic Way? – Our little green Island in the North Atlantic is home to the world’s longest defined coastal touring route at approximately 2,500km; the Wild Atlantic Way is a sensational journey of soaring cliffs and buzzing towns and cities, of hidden beaches and epic bays. It’s true the Irish are great international travellers but one thing that has become very apparent, from our previous tours and weekends away in Ireland, is how many hiddem gems off the beaten track, people have never heard of or seen before; even from people who thought they knew and had travelled all of Ireland!
In Connemara, water and land merge in a lacy shoreline of loughs, coves, islands and bogs. Our route takes us North out of Clifden via the Sky Road and on to Killary Harbour and along The Bay Coast – where the Wild Atlantic Way skims North around huge bays. The largest of these being Clew Bay which is said to have 365 islets and islands, one for every day of the year. Killary Harbour is a picturesque fjord, which forms a natural border between Galway and Mayo, in the heart of Connemara. Ringed by mountains, the fjord is often speckled with dolphins. Killary is also well known for producing some of Ireland’s most delicious mussels – taste the celebrated shellfish at the Connemara Mussel Festival in Tullycross. We’ll ride across the road bridge to Keem Strand on Achill Island, with its towering sea-cliffs, exposed mountains and sweeping sandy beaches. On Achill, while sheltering under Slievemore Mountain, you can wander through a strange and long abandoned settlement known simply as the Deserted Village. There’s history and culture too: elegant Georgian Westport House; the stronghold of legendary pirate queen Grace O’Malley on Clare Island… and Connemara’s Derrigimlagh Bog – where the world’s first transatlantic flight landed.
Leaving the Bay Coast behind at Belmullet we travel along the Surf Coast – thrill seekers and sensitive souls alike lose their hearts to the Surf Coast, where pounding waves and poetic silence exist side by side. This jagged stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way is renowned for its surf and attracts some of the world’s top waveriders. But that’s only the beginning. There’s a cultural richness along the Surf Coast too, from the Neolithic Céide Fields to a lively festival scene and, of course, the legacy of poet WB Yeats, who immortalised the landscapes of his childhood in some of his best-known works – including the Lake Isle of Innisfree. Land and sea come together to create something truly special at Mullaghmore Head. Classiebawn Castle dominating the surrounding landscape with its Gothic splendour; and nearby Ben Bulben, the flat-topped mountain famed in Irish mythology and the poetry of WB Yeats. Downpatrick Head in County Mayo is another spectacular headland of great beauty 38 metres above the sea. The ruins of a church, stone cross and holy well mark the site of an earlier church founded by Saint Patrick. Then there’s the impressive sea stack known as Dún Briste. Legend says the people living there were rescued using ships’ ropes when high seas separated the stack from the mainland in 1393.
Travelling further north we arrive at the Northern Headlands – Rocky, Remote & Romantic. From the sheer granite walls of some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs at Sliabh League to lonely Fanad Head Lighthouse and Ireland’s most Northerly point at Malin Head. Untouched, off-radar and crying out for exploration, this rugged and remote area marks the north-western contour of the Wild Atlantic Way. But there’s warmth and wit to be found among the vibrant, Irish-speaking community. This is a place that will lift your spirit. Fanad Head is a wildly exposed headland. It’s also the most northerly point of the beautiful Fanad Peninsula, known for the iconic Fanad Head Lighthouse, as well as stunning scenery and incredible beaches. Watch out for grey seals bobbing in the sea, pretty coves and powerful waves crashing across the rocks, maybe even a breaching whale in the distance. Malin Head is at the very tip of the Inishowen Peninsula, Ireland’s most northerly point. Over millions of years the wild Atlantic has carved dramatic crevices into the rugged headland, such as Hell’s Hole – a long, deep, narrow chasm where the swells below churn and roar. About 16km north of the village of Malin is Banba’s Crown, named after one of the mythical queens of Ireland, which offers panoramic views of this magnificent coast.
Entering Northern Ireland we embark on a journey along the Causeway Coastal Route – Rated as one of the top five road trips in the world, it offers the perfect combination of rugged coastline, dramatic towering cliffs, gorgeous little villages / towns with mythical stories and warm hospitable people. Hugging the Atlantic coast from Derry / Londonderry to Belfast the Causeway Coastal Route is studded with sandy beaches, fishing villages, gorse-covered valleys and fuchsia-edged clifftop paths. Absorbing this epic landscape from the seat of a motorcycle is wonderful and an assault on all the senses. The sounds of the crashing waves, the birds soaring up above, the salty taste from the sea on your lips and the wind whistling past your ears – these are all part of this legendary land’s beauty. Every second on the Causeway Coastal Route should be savoured every step of the way.
Did you know the Causeway Coastal Route was voted the Number 1 Region in the World to visit by Lonely Planet in 2018! Here’s some of the reasons why:
- Carrickfergus Castle – one of the best persevered medieval structures in Ireland.
- The Gobbins – exhilarating suspension bridges, caves, steps and tunnels.
- Picturesque Ballygally where the local hotel is haunted – but by a friendly ghost.
- Slemish mountain – an extinct volcano is where, according to legend, Saint Patrick tended sheep after being captured and taken to Ireland.
- Glenarm Castle with its historic walled gardens and sumptuous house interior.
- The mythical nine Glens of Antrim. The spectacular coast road to Cushendall, capital of the Glens, offers must-see views on route to your last stop – the pretty-as-a-picture Cushendun. Look out for the caves behind the village as seen in Game of Thrones®.
- Torr Head, the closest point to Scotland with stunning views of Fair Head and Rathlin Island.
- The legendary Dark Hedges. Game of Thrones® fans know it as the epic Kings Road in Westeros. This is selfie heaven as well as a piece of natural paradise planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century to impress visitors.
- Rathlin Island is the experience for you. Just embrace the spirit-enhancing and rugged tranquillity of our only inhabited island.
- In Ballintoy Harbour follow the winding road from the village past the white-washed parish church. Spoiler alert: the harbour doubled as exterior Iron Islands shots in Game of Thrones®.
- Giant’s Causeway! Legend says it’s the remains of a causeway built by an Irish giant to meet a challenge to a fight by a Scottish giant. Or maybe the intriguing stones are volcanic. Either way the place is epic.
- Dunluce Castle. Perched dramatically on cliffs, it has already inspired C.S. Lewis’s Narnia.
- Derry-Londonderry – Ireland’s only remaining walled city with a rich history.