Cycling the Beara Peninsula to Dursey Island, Ireland's only cable car was definitely the highlight of my five day cycle touring trip around West Cork, Ireland in Oct 2015. So I've decided to share in the hope that you (yes you!) will be inspired to cycle part of the Wild Atlantic Way coastline. The day I have described below is only part of one of several amazing cycling days. Enjoy the read and see you on the road!
We had already cycled 22 miles/35km with heavily loaded bags and we faced nearly the same distance again to reach Eyeries, a small town on the Beara Peninsula, where we hoped to find accommodation for the night. Now we faced a decision - should we lengthen our journey by a further 9 miles/14km roundtrip, to see Dursey Island or cycle on towards civilisation and a bed for the night. Spirits were lagging. Legs were tiring. But I was keen to take on this diversion. Somehow, I knew that Dursey Island was going to be a highlight of this trip.
However my friend, Bernie who had been cycling with me for the last 4 days was less keen, although her friend, Tina, who was tagging along for a one day adventure was slightly more upbeat.
After some gentle coaxing and bribing Bernie with a shared packet of Tayto crisps (Ireland's favourite!), we decided to ditch our panniers behind a stone wall and make the trip to Dursey Island.
It was a perfect cycling day, clear and cool with a gentle breeze. There was a big swell coming in and the waves were crashing on the rocks below. Stone walls lined our route and the road rose and fell gently. Happily, part of the way out, Bernie's back carrier fell off her bike, so we were forced to stop for repairs and enjoy the view. One or two cable ties later, we were back on our bikes.
Finally, we reached the end of the peninsula and saw the Dursey cable car and the island itself. Although the cable car wasn't running the day we visited, it was amazing to think of the six or so residents who live year round on the island and who depend on this cable car as their transport to and from the mainland. There are no shops, pubs or restuarants on the island and it is hammered by gale force south-westerly winds for much of the winter. Farming is the main source of income for inhabitants and sheep are brought to and from the island in the cable car which fits 6 adults (not sure how many sheep!) and takes about 8 minutes to cross the narrow stretch of water known as the Dursey Sound. The currents below are known to be treacherous.
Although we didn't get a chance, the island is supposed to be well worth exploring. Part of the Beara Way, a spectacular, long distance walking route is sign posted around the island. Definitely worth checking out!
After a while enjoying the amazing view, we cycled back to the crossroads where our panniers were hidden. The road was kind to us on the way back and any uphills were fairly gentle. I was glad we had put in the extra miles to see the cable car and island. This part of the cycle trip certainly opened my eyes to the different lives that people who live on the small islands off the Irish coastline live. It's a 'must do' trip for any keen touring cyclist or cycling wanna be!