Valentia Island loop
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Views to Cromwell Point and across Doulus BayPhoto: Robbie Thurley, Macs Adventure
On a clear day the views from Bray Head to Skellig Michael and Puffin Island are spectacular, if you're very lucky you might spot a Puffin out fishing!
The road down to the lighthouse is quite steep, 15%, so make sure you control your speed and consider walking your bike back up afterwards. It's well worth the effort but only take this short ride if you are confident descending short steep hills.
Track typesShow elevation profile
The route largely follows narrow, quiet country roads but do take care when on busier sections around the towns. If on a narrow road with passing places try to pull over to your left at one of these to let any vehicles behind you pass.
Before starting your ride it’s always worth inspecting your bike for any damage. Check for any damage to the frame, components or wheels. Ensure there are no loose cables and that the tyres are inflated and the brakes are working. Always wear a helmet when cycling. If you are doubtful of the condition of your rental bike please call the office or the local bike hire on the number provided in your information pack.
Tips and hints
Food & Drink
There is a good selection of stores and cafe/delis in Caheersiveen if you want to buy snacks for your ride. On Valentia island there are some lovely cafes and restaurants in Knightstown and Chapeltown, also a tearoom around 17km into the ride. So you have plenty of options to keep you fueled up.
Points of interest
Cromwell Point & Lighthouse
Built on the site of a 17th century fort, Valentia Island Lighthouse on Cromwell Point has stood against sea and invader for hundreds of years. Now, this gleaming white lighthouse on beautiful Valentia Island looks out across some of the most spectacular sights along the Wild Atlantic Way.
There’s much to enjoy in a visit to this lighthouse. Take a tour of the lighthouse tower and balcony. Be blown away by the dramatic scenery and big weather! Soak up the stories and the science as you learn about the people and technology that have guided ships safely home from sea over the years.
Open daily from 11am to 6pm between March and September. €5 entry fee.
The Tetrapod imprints are thought to date from Devonian times – somewhere between 350 and 370 million years ago. This site is of international significance as it represents the transition of life from water to land – a momentous turning point in evolution and provides the oldest reliably dated evidence of four legged vertebrates (amphibians) moving over land. The Valentia Island Tetrapod footprints are the most extensive of the four Devonian trackways in the world. (The others are in Tarbet Ness, Scotland; Genoa River, NSW Australia; Glen Isla, Victoria Australia). Access to the track way is by a pathway down to the rocks, it's free and open year road.
Used as filming locations for the last two Star Wars films both Little Skellig and Skellig Michael (Great Skellig) rise abruptly out of the Atlantic waters around 12km from the mainland. Although popular with movie fans the main attractions here are the abundance of seabirds. Over 30,000 pairs of Gannets nest on Little Skellig and 4,000 Atlantic Puffins, with thier colourful bills, on Skellig Michael! Rising to 218m above sea level and also being home to a six-century christian monastery, taking a boat tour from Portmagee marina is a must.
0.00 km – Start your ride in the centre of Cahersiveen with the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church on your right hand side. Head STRAIGHT ON following the main road through the centre of town.
2.10 km – TURN RIGHT at the junction, following the sign for ‘Valentia Island Ferry’.
4.70 km – At the end of the road you arrive at the pier to catch the short (5mins) ferry trip across to Valentia Island. Return tickets for cyclists cost €3 and can be purchased onboard.
5.50 km – After disembarking the ferry TURN RIGHT following the sign for ‘Skellig Ring’ and head through Knightstown.
5.60 km – TURN LEFT just past the Royal Valentia Hotel to continue following the main road.
6.00 km – As the main road bears left TURN RIGHT to follow the signs for ‘Valentia Island Lighthouse’ and ‘Tetrapod Trackway’.
6.70 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON at the crossroads.
8.70 km – At the next cross roads TURN RIGHT (this is optional as good bike handling skills are required). You will descend steeply downhill towards the lighthouse. This is quite a narrow, steep road at 15% so make sure you control your speed and remember you will need to retrace this route making it a strenuous climb back up. Of course you can always walk your bike up the hill just remember to give way to other vehicles on the road. (If you would prefer to skip the this slope and visits to the lighthouse and tetrapod tracks then TURN LEFT at the cross roads.)
If you do not want to turn right to the lighthouse, simply continue...
9.30 km – There are a couple of options at this point; you can do one or both. Continue STRAIGHT ON to visit the Tetrapod Trackway another 1km down the road or TURN RIGHT to visit the lighthouse at Cromwell Point. The road remains steep as it winds it’s way down to the coastline.
10.30 km – Lock your bike up in the carpark here and take a walk through the grounds of the Lighthouse. There are various displays and exhibits on the history of this part of the island. Entry fee of €5 (at time of writing). Once you’ve finished your visit hop back on your bike and retrace the route back uphill to the crossroads.
11.90 km – Back at the crossroads BEAR RIGHT to follow the sign for ‘Geokaun Mountain’.
12.10 km – TURN RIGHT and continue following the road as it traverses the hillside with great views of the main land to your left.
13.70 km – On your right there is an optional loop walk to Geokaun Mountain (319m) and Foghar Cliffs. Entry fee €2.
17.50 km – On your right is Bray Head, turn here to follow the road a short way to the car park then take a walk up the trail to the top of Bray Head. Afterwards, retrace your steps back to this point. To avoid the climb, and continue on the route, TURN LEFT and follow the main road.
19.10 km – At the junction continue STRAIGHT ON following the sign for ‘Knightstown’. Just across the bridge on your right is the colourful town of Portmagee, named after the 18th century smuggler Captain Theobald Magee. It’s also the departure point if you’re wishing to take a boat ride out to Skellig Micheal.
22.00 km – TURN RIGHT at the white church in Chapeltown. You now leave the main road to follow the minor coastal road for the next 5km back to the ferry pier at Knightstown.
27.00 km – Arriving back at the ferry pier. The ferries run continuously throughout the day so the maximum waiting time, if you just miss a sailing, is approx. minutes.
27.70 km – Disembark the ferry then follow the same road you came in on earlier today.
30.40 km – At the junction TURN LEFT to head back into Cahersiveen.
31.50 km – Your ride finishes here back at your accommodation for the night.
EquipmentAlways be prepared to cycle through a change of weather conditions, especially on these Atlantic coastal rides, and do check for any local weather warnings before cycling. Make sure to bring a waterproof jacket and a warm layer. Most cyclists wear [fingerless] cycle gloves for some padding on the handlebars. Don't forget a spare battery pack for an emergency charge of any navigation unit you may decide to use.
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