Ireland end to end: Goleen to Mizen Head to Kenmare

The-lady-of-the-house at the excellent Heron’s Cove B/B in Goleen (very highly recommended) told us breakfast didn’t start until 9am then noticednthe look of disappointment on our faces. We had a big day to cycle down to Mizen Head, thennreturn through Goleen and ride northnto Kenmare. About 62 miles. So she had a great idea.

She suggested we got up early, cycled the 6.5 miles to Mizen Head, take our various photos, then cycle back to Goleen to collect our panniers, and more importantly, have our Full Irish breakfast. So that’s what we did. 

It was a bright and chilly morning butmit was great to wheel down the peninsula unencumbered by luggage. What a difference it makes. The whole Mizen Head complex was still locked up so we jumped the wall, wandered down as far as we could, and took our Mizen Head to Malin Head selfies! By the time we returned to the Heron’s Cove at Goleen we were more than ready for our Full Irish.

We set off at about tennish and after a few burps from a good breakfast settled into a good rhythm.

After about 5 miles Hamish braked frantically, turned to me with a mild panic and asked me if I’d left the room key in the B/B. I assured him I had left it on the counter when we paid.

Several miles later, when we stopped for a pee, Himself felt something rattling in his shirt pocket. It was the room key!

For some inexplicable reason, probably due to creeping dementia, he had picked the key up from the desk and pocketed it.

We cycled on to the village of Durrus, found a Post Office, and posted the key back to the hotel.

Conscience salved we carried on but a few miles outside the village there, straddling the road before us, stood the Lady-of-the-House! She had driven the 20 or so miles after us and she didn’t look pleased.

“Where’s my key?” she demanded and for the first time in a few years I saw Hamish tremble. Dr Hamish Telfer, respected academic and feared trade unionist, actually shook and trembled. “I’ve just posted it back to you,” he said, before apologising profusely.

I’m actually exaggerating a little because the Lady-of-the-house was actually surprisingly pleasant about the whole thing, and said she would collect the key from the Durris post office before it succumbed to the vagaries of the Irish postal service. But Dr Telfer really did almost shit himself…

After that things settled down. We made good time into Bantry by Bantry Bay of the emmigrations, the folk tales and the traditional songs. We grabbed some lunch in a bakery and then promptly took the wrong way out of town. As Sod’s Law would have it, our wrong route climbed a very steep hill and after a mile or so I stopped a guy and asked him if we were on the right road to Glengarriff. He put us right, and we had to return downhill, through the town, and onto the correct road.

The road largely followed the coast with some great views across Bantry Bay to the Caha Mountains. They looked like great hills with some nice tight ridges. Little were we to know we would soon see them much closer to hand.

We stopped for a pee break in Glengarriff, encouraged by the fact we only had 16 miles or so to go to our night stop in Kenmare. Little did we know that we had to cross a high mountain pass.

The road began pleasantly enough, through some woods with little signposts pointing out walking routes and picnic areas. We were in good fettle. After half an hour we were still climbing, the road had deteriorated into tarmac ruts and Hamish was grumbling about it. I just managed to hear the occasional swear word.

After an hour we were still climbing, and still on the ruts, but by now the views of the Caha Mountains were superb. Just then a sign proclaimed the Caha Pass. A tunnell burrowed its way through the rock at the top of the pass before we hurtled downhill, whooping like children and pretending we were Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins  descending the Tourmalet. There’s nothing like a steep descent to return you to childhood.

In no time we were back at sea level in the town of Kenmare, found the excellent Hawthorn House B/B, settled in and toasted ourselves under a fabulous shower. Hamish has stopped grumbling now and is checking out places to eat and where he can buy ginger beer. Oh, and I’m not letting him anywhere near the room key!

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