Three Day Trip of the Sunny South East
Luke GJ Potter
Member of Quanta-Scott Orwell Wheelers
Why this trip?
This was my first bike packing trip. I completed it with a friend on the same weekend as the World Road Race Championships and the Great Dublin Bike Ride in September 2019. Although I say it’s a three-day trip, it’s actually two-and-a-half days as we left Dublin at 14:30 on Friday.
Highlights of the trip are seeing the east coast and climbing Mount Leinster.
All-in-all, it’s one of the best cycling routes I’ve done in Ireland. If you venture on this route, I hope you enjoy it too.
Need to Know More?
3 Day Leinster Loop
Route Rating ➤ Moderate / Challenging
Distance ➤ 296.9 km
Climbing ➤ 2,684 meters
Route Rating: Moderate
The start of the route is a well-trodden path for most Dublin-based cyclists. You take the coast road from Bray to Greystones and through a string of small towns; Kilcoole, Newcastle and Rathnew. The route goes into Wicklow Town and onward to Brittas Bay. From there, it turns inland to Redcross and finally to the suggested stops of Meeting of the Waters or Avoca a little downstream. The route is a rolling one with the main climbing coming near the end.
The first two thirds of the route provide lots of excellent views of the coast and you can stop for a bite to eat in Greystones, Wicklow and Redcross.
Fun fact: Redcross has a Latin Quarter. It’s a village with all of six buildings.
We ate dinner at Mickey Finn’s Pub in Redcross where they let us store our bikes in the lockup at the back. This is also home of West Wicklow Brewing. As I can only drink those craft beers after I’ve had four traditional pints, I asked the bartender for a lighter tasting option. He gave me a tasting glass and loudly proclaimed to the rest of the bar that “This is the lowest alcohol percentage and the fruitiest taste.”
Route Rating: Challenging
Restarting from Meeting of the Waters or Avoca, the route takes you south-west towards Thomastown in Co. Kilkenny. Again, the route is rolling with the day’s main climbing starting in Bunclody, a picturesque little town with a small stream running down the main thoroughfare. You don’t get much time to enjoy it though because that stream is running downhill for a reason: you’re about to start your Mount Leinster Challenge.
Mount Leinster is a tough spin and please take care on the descent as there are a few cattle grids that you’ll need to traverse head-on.
There’s an optional route that will add an extra climb after Borris (if Mount Leinster just wasn’t enough of a challenge) which you can take on by heading through Graiguenamanagh.
This is a hard day out. The highlight is the climb of Mount Leinster and its views.
Suggested food stops are in Carnew and Borris.
Route Rating: Moderate
When I rode this, I had a block headwind all day. The main road on this route, the R448, has a wide cycle track which is very safe and a perfect example of good cycling infrastructure. For the 25km into Kilcullen, you’ll be riding the return leg of the Time Trial course from the Irish National Road Championships in 2016.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to see on this route, nor are there any suggested stops before Blessington so I advise bringing on-bike food. I rode it on a Sunday and there was nothing open in Carlow so I stopped at a supermarket in Castledermot for a can of Coke and Mars bar. At the time, pictures were coming through on WhatsApp groups of Orwell riders with Great Dublin Bike Ride medals, biting them to ensure that they were not made out of chocolate. I was biting the Mars bar to ensure it was made out of chocolate. It was, TG.
There are alternative routes available:
From Leninbridge, you can take the Barrow Way back to Robertstown, Co. Kildare. Some stretches of the Barrow Way are paved and some are not so there’s potential for some muddy conditions. You can make the call on the day.
From Blessington, you can take the back roads back to Dublin which will enable you to avoid long stretches of the N81.
Enjoy it and don’t forget to pack a Mars bar