Motorcycling in Ireland: Some General Information.
Recent image taken in June 2017, showing a random group of motorbiking enthusiasts stopping off for some refreshments in one of N.Ireland's many little villages, fast becoming a Mecca for Bikers!
Ireland is like one big village, just like Draperstown (image), which is fast becoming a haven for many Motorbiking fanatics. Positioned in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains, it's location, is very typical of scenic Mid Ulster; It is just 30 miles from the North Coast and 40 miles from Belfast and this makes it a must see visiting spot. It boasts more public houses and small restaurants within 1/4 mile than nearly any other small town town in Ireland. The famous Apparro Restaurant - in the town center is well worth a stop off.
You feel like you already know it, even if you’ve never been there before. The conversation will no doubt turn to local places of interest, such as Derrynoid Forest, Moneyneena, The Glenelly Road, The Six Towns, Davagh Forest, Eagle's Rock, and more places.
The mystical land of myths and legends, Celts and Druids, floating out in the Atlantic on the western edge of Europe, is just waiting for you to explore it on your motorbike, and uncover the layers of history for yourself. The wealth of interesting things to do means you’ll never fit it all into one trip, so don’t bother trying to.
The people are warm and friendly, and they always want to know where you're coming from, and where you're heading to…They’ll ask you about your motorbike, and they really want to hear your road stories. It is, after all, a nation of storytellers, and this is evident in the deep literary heritage you find across the country, from WB Yeates to Oscar Wilde, to James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Patrick Kavanagh.
Maybe because it’s an island, but Ireland has more than its fair share of castles, abbeys, heritage centres, monastic settlements, and prehistoric monuments. For example, Newgrange in Co. Meath, dating back to 3,200 B.C., predating The Pyramids by 400 years, older than Stonehenge by around 1000 years, is the largest passage tomb in the northern hemisphere. The country is littered with ancient circles of standing stones, as if acting as some kind of doorway through time, for those that know how to open them.
Head south over the mountains from Dublin, and you’ll find Glendalough, “The Valley of the Two Lakes”, a monastic settlement from the 5th century A.D. The winding, unspoilt mountain roads are perfect for motorbikes, and you usually have the roads all to yourself, so you and your friends can relax and enjoy the landscape. Check out the famous Johnny Foxes Mountain Pub, for some great seafood, and an even better atmosphere.
North out of Dublin brings you to Carlingford Lough, and eventually Belfast, where the many scars of British occupation are still visible today. Keep riding north, and you’ll come to the Antrim Coast, where you should visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Giant's Causeway. A series of 40,000 interlocking, hexagonal, basalt columns, it’s the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, between 50 to 60 million years ago. A corresponding rock formation emerges on the Scottish side of the Irish Sea, indicating that these two geological phenomena are connected, and, as legend would have it, the mythological Irish warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill built the causeway, to walk to Scotland to fight his Scottish counterpart, Benandonner. That was before Ryanair.
Stop the bike anywhere in Ireland, and you’ll probably find somewhere to stay for the night, closeby. No matter what part of the country you find yourself in, you can always find a cosy pub by the roadside. Full of good people, with an open fire, and maybe even some rooms to rent, you can park the bike for the night and enjoy a Guinness or two, followed by a local whiskey by the fireside, to end the evening with. After some food.
You’ll probably walk in on some live traditional music, being played effortlessly by locals that look like they’ve been doing it all their lives... and they probably have. As soon as you take your first mouthful of Guinness, you’re a friend of theirs.
Up north, you can visit the many whiskey distilleries, such as the Bushmills Distillery in Antrim, but remember not to swallow too much of it. Or just lock the bike for the night.
Head out west, and if your timing is good, (around the 21st to the 25th of September), you might just catch the annual Galway Oyster Festival , an event which attracts Oyster-interested types from all over the world. And if you find yourself in Galway, you should ride out to Connemeara, and take the ferry over to Inismore, on the Aran Islands, and visit the Druid fort of Dún Aonghasa, perched on a clifftop, high over the Atlantic. There’s no guardrail at the edge of the cliff, so be careful, but otherwise, a very interesting place to visit.
Ride south out of Galway, stick to the coast road, and after a beautiful trip, you’ll arrive at The Cliffs of Moher, named after the fort of Mothar. On many occasions, I’ve felt the wind blow the seawater 220 meters up out of the Atlantic, and right into our faces. You go there fresh, but you’ll come back salty. Even on a good day, you still can’t see America, but you know it’s out there somewhere.
Keep heading towards the southern coast, and you’ll eventually arrive at The Ring of Kerry, which leads you quietly into the picturesque town of Killarney, and, if you can avoid the hordes of tourists, you might find an authentic pub, with some good food, to digest the day’s ride in. From the 3rd to the 6th of June every year, you can meet up with other motorbikers in Killarney, at Ireland Bikefest.
Back in Dublin, if you have any energy left, you should visit some of the Museums packed with Stone Age and Iron Age relics, Celtic and Viking artifacts, and if this doesn’t do it for you, check out some of the many galleries, exhibitions, heritage centres and markets, where you can buy some great ingredients for original Irish Bikerfood. Then just find some friends to enjoy it with, over a Guinness or two.
Just remember to drive on the left side of the road!
Motorcycle Adventures In England
You probably know this, but England shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales, to the west. England borders the North Sea, Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, Bristol Channel and English Channel. Britain has around 1,100 small islands or islets, some of which, are artificial "crannogs" which were instituted to make it easier to defend the island.
A motorcycle trip to England is a trip into a story about kings, queens, princes, princesses, repression, self-importance, wars, scandals, greed, religion, love, and not least power. The British story is quite impossible to enter into here. It is far too extensive. After a long trip through English culture, history and humor, find a good country pub, and sit and enjoy the good food and fine ales, after a day of unimaginably many impressions.
It's a fantastic ride, to an island in the Atlantic, which was once an empire. An island that created the concept of "storytelling," and always has been “where it’s at". It's a trip to an island that has put its gigantic footprint on modern Western culture. Sometimes even a bootprint. There are infinitely many things to ride after in England, and you can be sure that you’ll get your fill.
The only thing about England, is riding on the left side of the road. England consists mostly of lowlands, with the mountainous terrain of the Cumbria mountains in the “Lake District, in the northwest, to the north "Pennines" and the "Peak District". There are no real peaks over 1,000 metres in England. The main rivers are the Thames and Severn. Take your motorcycle to the home country of Stonehenge, William Shakespeare, The Beatles, Jamie Oliver, The Stones and Triumph Motorcycles. England has the Eurotunnel land connection to France, but you can also take your bike on one of the many ferries from mainland Europe.
Take a motorbike trip to England, “it’s only Rock 'n Roll, but I like it”.
Scotland: Perfect for An Adventure on A Motorbike!
You’ll be overwhelmed by the number of historic villages and castles, such as Braemar, Balmoral and Blair Castle, as well as the many miles of great coastline, as you ride through East Lothian's and Scottish Borders' countryside. Blair Castle, is home of the Atholl Highlanders, the only remaining private army in the UK. You should take the time to visit the mountainous Cairngorms National Park, Britain’s largest, and a living landscape in the heart of the wild Highlands.
Visit the Highland Folk Museum at Kingussie, where a 1700’s township has been recreated, to preserve Highland rural life, culture and heritage. Kingussie is roughly 68 km south of Inverness, 19 km south of Aviemore.
Loch Ness, the 37km long freshwater lake, with a depth of 230 meters at its deepest point, is the result of an ever-shifting tectonic fault line, The Great Glen Fault. Over 400 million years old, it stretches from Inverness in the north, to Fort William in the south. The land mass west of the fault is slowly moving northeast, and the area east of the fault, is moving in a south-westerly direction. The fault continues on the Canadian side of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Scotland is littered with many fine Whisky distilleries, whether on the Isles of Islay or Oban, or on Speyside, which is home to more than half of Scotland's distilleries. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is a unique celebration of whisky and the cultural heritage of Speyside. Many whisky-related events take place throughout the Speyside area, also known as Malt Whisky Country, including exclusive tours of distilleries, which are normally off-limits to visitors.
People from the Gaelic speaking parts of Scotland can understand Irish people speaking Gaelic, and vice versa, evidence from the time around the Iron Age, when Celtic tribes from both countries shared a common culture, language and heritage. These days, they both share a common love for Whisky.
Scotland has done well, as regards holding out against the invaders. The Romans never really managed to bend them to their will, or occupy their lands, as easily as they could with England. In an effort to protect themselves from the Barbarian hordes in the North, the Romans erected Hadrian's Wall in 122 AD, a line of fortifications through the Staffordshire Moorlands, stretching from the River Tyne in the east, to the shore of the Solway Firth, in the west.
Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and if you’re there around August, you can catch the Edinburgh Festival, the largest cultural event in the world. It was established after WWII to "provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit". Since 1999, Edinburgh has been the seat of the Scottish Parliament, heralding a new era of autonomy from British rule.
For the motorcyclist, there’s so much to do in Scotland, that you should plan for a long trip, and take the time to immerse yourself in it completely, and remember to lock the bike, before ‘tasting’ the whisky