Set between the rugged peaks of the Twelve Bens and the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean, lies Clifden, a cycle hub for County Galway. Nearby attractions include Kylemore Abbey & Garden, Connemara National Park, Ocean’s Alive Visitor Centre, the Connemara Smokehouse and Connemara Championship Golf Links. There are a number of cycle routes on offer which include:
Route 1: Sky Road Loop
16 Kilometres: 1+ hours
Overlooking Clifden Bay to the South and Streamstown Bay to the North, this route rises more than 150 m above sea level and has spectacular views of the Atlantic, the islands of Inishturk, Turbot and Clifden town. You will also see the ruin of Clifden Castle, former home of John D’Arcy who founded the town at the start of the 19th century. The terrain is relatively flat towards the end of the peninsula. Cyclists follow the coastline of the tranquil Streamstown Bay back towards the main road.
Route 2: Errislannan Loop
14 Kilometres: 1+ hours
This is a short loop. From Bridge Street cyclists can pause to view the Owenglen Cascade where salmon can be seen leaping upstream before continuing on up a steady hill while enjoying fine views of Clifden Bay. A signpost indicating the Alcock & Brown monument is the signal to turn. The monument offers a magnificent panoramic vantage point. Water and stone are the themes of this circuit; the rocky landscape is typical of Connemara.
Route 3: Cleggan Loop
33 Kilometres: 2+ hours
Route 3 is a longer trip north to the rocky Connemara coast around Cleggan, following the fringes of Streamstown Bay. The route passes Omey Island and cyclists can opt to visit this small but beautiful island on foot when the tide is out. Near the charming fishing village of Cleggan visitors can climb to the top of Cleggan Head where they can admire the views of the village below as well as Inishbofin, Inishturk, Clare Island and the imposing Twelve Bens mountain range. There is an option to catch the ferry at the pier in Cleggan to the island of Inishbofin. From Cleggan a mountain road climbs more gradually through a forested area before a speedy descent back down to the town.
Route 4: Ballyconneely and Roundstone Loop
40 Kilometres: 3 hours
On this route cyclists can take in the lovely natural wilderness of Derrygimlagh and Roundstone bogs. They will see the site of the crash-landing of the first transatlantic flight by Alcock & Brown in 1919, as well as the old Marconi transatlantic wireless station. Further on towards Ballyconneely, Coral Strand makes a lovely photo stop. At Roundstone, one of the oldest fishing villages in Ireland, cyclists can experience the local fishermen’s’ catch of the day direct from its busy harbour. Nearby cyclists can also visit the stunning beaches of Gurteen and Dog’s Bay with their pristine white sands and azure waters. On the coast road there are fine views and generally gentle gradients.