Skibbereen in County Cork was developed on the banks of the River Ilen just where the river turns to flow in a westerly direction towards the sea. There are three main cycle routes in the surrounding area which allow cyclists to enjoy its many attractions. The recommended cycle routes are listed below:
Loop 1: Atlantic Route: 3 hours. 24 km
Start: Skibbereen Post office
This is a coastal tour along headlands and promontories with fine views out to the Atlantic. Cyclists start at the Post Office in the town centre, beside the Clock Tower. Follow the signposts out to the Baltimore Road Roundabout and on to Tragumna beach. It is a flat route passing lakes and wetlands along the way. At Tragumna the steepest hill of the day suddenly looms, climbing from sea level up onto the headland, followed by a descent down into Toehead Bay. There are spectacular views of the Atlantic along this route.
Loop 2: Baltimore: 3½ hours. 35km
Start: Skibbereen Heritage Centre
This is a trip out to the fishing village of Baltimore, taking in the challenging Lough Hyne along the way. Alternatively cyclists can turn back before Lough Hyne, staying on the loop, in which case it is the easiest route. Lough Hyne is a saltwater lake with a unique ecosystem, and is a designated Marine Nature Reserve. The route continues on past Lough Hyne to the seaport of Baltimore. After exploring the quayside and town centre, return by the same route.
Loop 3: 4 hours. Mount Kid. 46 km
Start: Schull Road Roundabout
Please note loop 3 is a more challenging route for more experienced cyclists only. This trip will take cyclists up to the wild mountain terrain around Mount Kid, climbing from sea level up over a mountain pass at an altitude of 225 metres. Here a magnificent ocean vista awaits with views of Roaringwater Bay and out to the islands. At the start, ride out through undulating countryside towards the hills. Occasional glimpses of the windfarm ahead will guide cyclists towards their first high point on the eastern flanks of Coomnagoragh Mountain.
The routes are best cycled anticlockwise to avoid right turns across the vehicular lane at junctions. Cyclists should also be aware of the one way street system in the centre of Skibbereen. If in doubt, dismount and walk.