Ride out to inishowen and malin head

irish. Inis Eoghain. meaning island of Eoghan Eoghan mac neill was the son of nail of the
nine hostages once high king of ireland

Saturday morning rolled the caponord out the shed time to start putting up a few miles in 2016. Headed of on the N13 north to Buncrana along the lough swilly once the home of the Admiral Jellicoe,s British grand fleet HQ during the first world war. A major waterway for coal boats to enter Donegal and for the export of potatoes and cattle. In Buncrana I meet up with my biking Buddy for the day Pat. Over a cup of coffee at a local service station we discussed our route for the day.

Buncrana the largest town on the inishowen peninsula. Buncrana has had a chequered pass once a navel town called HMS HCKLAR. later it became a major linen producer many of the old factory ruins are still to be seen. Crossing the victoria bridge we take the coastal route out to fort Dunree the twisty road rolls over farm land with the Swilly on your left and the Urris hills to the right. Over the other side of the lough Swilly you can see the road to Fanad lighthouse one of the wild Atlantic way signature points. As you get closer to the fort the road becomes narrow and over grown in the summer months. Fort Dunree protected lough Swilly and once was a treaty port. There was threesuch ports in Ireland Berehaven and Cobh in Co Cork. These ports where held by the British navy after the Irish treaty was signed in 1921. they were finally handed back to the Irish republic in 1938.

From fort Dunree we head for the Urris hills and the famous Malmore gap ( many a cyclist heart breaker) a long straight roads brings you to the top there is a area to stop on the right just pass the top. Looking north you are looking down on what is known as the Poitin Republic of Urris. In the 19 th century large amounts of Poitin (illegal alcohol) was made here. To get into the republic you had to pay a fee don’t worry we didn’t have to pay on the day. Finally in 1815 British forces succeeded in breaking through ending three years of the Republic. On the road down from Malmore gap is a serious of Sharpe hairpins which up until a few years was very difficult to navigate on a motorbike for an inexperience biker but in recent years the corners have been widen and several viewing stops added well worth it alone for the views out over the north Atlantic and Dundaff head. After the gap the roads flattens out as we rode through the countryside taking in the fresh sea air the sky might have been overcast but it was mild and no wind.

We ride passed a beautiful thatched cottage and many modern houses but one building stands out for me that day was a blue stone barn on my left with bright red doors. Just pass the Rusty nail pub on right is what every bikers wants a coffee shop and toilet’s atGlen house with ample parking. After your coffee and homemade scone you can walk up to Glenevin waterfall about 1Km. as we head of through Clonmany along with Carndonagh and Malin town all have a triangle area in the middle of town in olded days merchants set up their scales in the triangles when they were purchasing goods. Leaving Carndonagh we cross the bridge into Malin town previous winner of Irelands tidies town and its not hard to see why even on a overcast day in January the village looks tranquil. From Malin the road becomes twisty riding by the waters edge passing two whitewashed churches at lagg , our next stop was at the Knockamany Bens a large parking area over looking five fingers strand and the isle of Doagh. A lot of local place names have a strong Scottish influence because of the plantation of ulster. The next part of the ride from here to Malin head will test your riding skills sharpe corners, narrow roads riding close to sea cliffs not to mention roads shrewd with sand and seaweed from winter storms. But is that what riding a bike is all about traveling a road less travel. did I mention hardly no traffic great. In the distance you can see banbas crown at malin head Irelands most northerly point and the beginning of the wild atlantic way.

From here on the only road is south. At malin head take time to stop for photographs at banbas crown named after one the mythical queen’s of Ireland . looking north you can see the islands of inistrahull the most northerly island in Ireland. The were inhabited until the 1920,s. heading of this time south we headed through several thatched cottages and passed the old curiosity shop. With the sea on our left crashing onto the sea wall as we pass we head towards malin town again throught fields of sheep and some lambsI can only image what it would be like later with hundreds of lovely white lambs jumping in the fields another excuse to take a ride I think. Back through the plantation town of carndonagh I take my leave of pat and take what is known locally as the mountain road back to buncrana. Befiore we parted pat advice me to take the road into quiglys point back to letterkenny it is 15mins shorter last thing you want to hear when your out on a bike a shorter route. The mountain road has a great riding surface and some brilliant sweeping corners chance to open her up a bit after all the slow riding earlier in the day. Road racers refer to walls and gates etc as street furniture no walls or gates to worry about except the sheep lying on or crossing the road. At the top of the mountain it was wa little overcast and staring raining but still the colour of the heathers and whin bushes was amazing. I passed the north pole pub back through Buncrana and on to Bridgend and into the Gap Coffee shop for the best coffee in inishowen if not Donegal. Full of coffee and the night falling in I head back home happy first decent run of 2016 . a truly magical experience any time of year.

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