(Not So) Flat Kilkenny
Kilkenny is the Provence of Ireland – while it may not have the same wildness as the west, it has its own rich beauty. Boasting everything from lush green farmland to tough climbs, Kilkenny is perfect cycling country.
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Route Rating ➤ Challenging
Distance ➤ 292 km
Climbing ➤ 3,447 meters
Today’s stage takes in counties Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford and is dominated by Mount Leinster. Before coming to the big climb of the day, there’s a good 37km warm up winding through small rural villages and rich countryside along the banks of the River Barrow – it’s beautiful at any time of year. Take your time and enjoy the spin, the climb over Mount Leinster is tough but exhilarating and the views from the top are second to none.
After the climb, a welcome stop in one of Graiguenamanagh’s many cafés will be well-deserved. Right on the border with Carlow, the village straddles the River Barrow and is picture-perfect. If you have time, take a short stroll down to the lock with an ice cream – bliss!
Heading home through Bennettsbridge, most traffic is local and slow so take your time and enjoy it.
This itinerary takes in the best of South Kilkenny, following the flow of the River Nore through Thomastown (the Blackbird Café and the Watergarden are both great coffee stops) and onwards to the beautiful little village of Inistioge, the setting of 1995 film Circle of Friends.
Unfortunately, beauty has a price. The right turn in the village towards Woodstock House brings you straight onto a 2km climb where there’s nothing for it but to go straight to zero on the derailer and just grind it out. Work is done, it’s onto the backroads of the county for a gentle spin back to Kilkenny Castle through Kilmoganny and past Kells Priory. At the end of this stage, why not enjoy a nice café or lunch at the Foodhall Café at Kilkenny Design Centre. Enjoy!
This 78km loop around North Kilkenny is very special. The north of the county feels very different to the south, much higher and open with views across neighbouring Carlow and Laois. The rich farmland and occasional wooded hills are spectacular, especially in late summer and early autumn when the livestock are still grazing in the fields. As always, the road surface is excellent and the rolling hills are perfect cycling country.