The Falls Hotel 30k to the Cliffs and back
"The sun had yet to rise as I made my way from The Falls Hotel this morning onto the bicycle path that leads all the way to Lahinch. It was a real pleasure to ride along the four kilometre purpose built piece of cycling infrastructure.
Arriving in Lahinch I detoured via the promenade where I stopped to watch the sun rise but I was not the first to arrive. Dozens of surfers were already in the water, making the most of the Wild Atlantic Waves.
Back on the road I rolled on past Lahinch Golf club which had yet to come to life. The manicured greens, some of which are just in over the low wall, were very impressive set amongst the challenging seaside grasses on what is said to be one of the finest Links golf courses in the World.
By the end of the golf course you are half way to Liscannor just out the road. A place made famous by it’s stone, but from a cycling point of view the start of the climb to The Cliffs of Moher.
Along the way, coincidentally, as I was contemplating phone coverage in remote locations I spotted a red telephone box, far removed from its natural environment. Few would have noticed it in a car but there again lies the beauty of exploring the countryside on a bike.
The Sun had risen as I approached the Cliffs of Moher. At this hour of the morning in late October I had envisioned having them all to myself, but there were quiet a few American, German and French tourists who seemed to have had the same idea.
As I precariously balanced my bike against a step one American lady took pity on me and offered to take a photo for me. What would she have thought had she seen where I had positioned the bike just a few moments beforehand.
Usually I like to loop routes but this one had a nice downhill as a reward back to Liscannor and that nice bike path back to the Falls in Ennistymon, not to mention the view when travelling in the opposite direction, so off I set for the return journey.
The golf club had now come to life as a group looked set to tee off and there were more surfers than ever out on the water.
Back in Ennistymon I stopped by the bridge to look back towards the hotel from the Falls themselves to gain a different perspective on the fabulous view that I had been looking out on at dinner the previous evening and at breakfast this morning. The natural waterfalls that have given the hotel its name are just as impressive from above as they are from below, and the hotel is picture perfect when framed below them.
Minutes later I was at the other end looking back up from the garden in front of the hotel having had a very enjoyable morning visiting one of Irelands most famous attractions whilst also taking in the other attractions and views along the way.
This route would rate 4/7 for difficulty."
The Falls Hotel 58k
"Heading for The Falls Hotel in Ennistymon this morning I took a slight detour via Lahinch to watch the surfers in action. The morning was wet and windy as The Wild Atlantic Way lived up to its’ name. As I watched the neoprene clad adventurers walk gingerly towards the sea a thought flashed across my mind – It’s a bit wet for walking around like that. This immediately triggered another thought – What must non cyclists think when they see us heading out in the rain without a care in the World. Today I would find out.
As I began my loop through the Burren National Park from the Falls Hotel today I contemplated how much cyclists and surfers have in common.
The whole idea of getting out in nature, leaving all your cares behind. Enjoying all that nature has to offer for free and really experiencing it through all of your senses and not just looking out from the other side of a glass windscreen.
Cycling in the rain can be a pleasure if approached from the right perspective. Some say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing, which does carry a certain amount of truth. It is important to be properly attired for wet conditions in clothing that will keep you dry and warm, but not too warm.
Sean Kelly has another outlook on cycling in the rain
I have my own opinion too. I find the key to enjoying cycling in the rain has a lot to do with the roads you choose to travel upon. A busy main road with the cars, vans and trucks louder than ever as they splash on by and shower you with the spray from their jet wash is truly miserable. However, if you choose a nice quiet back road with very little or no traffic, then you can enjoy it almost as much as cycling in the sunshine. The air is cleaner after being ‘washed and filtered’ by the rainfall. The colour are more vibrant, especially at this time of year. Today’s roads, in the heart of County Clare were the perfect location for a day cycling in the rain.
Within minutes of leaving the hotel I found myself on a deserted backroad where I would not meet another car for almost an hour. The road climbed as I headed inland and the meandering narrow country road offered all that a cyclist could desire. Plenty to look at, shelter from the wind and a good smooth surface.
I stopped to take a look back down at Lickeen Lough as the rainfall began to lighten.
The only piece of main road that I encountered was a kilometre stretch in Killinaboy before I turned left in towards The Burren National Park.
Another well surfaced road surrounded by sights in Nature that are unique in the World led me towards my next point of interest. Even though there are thousands of Flora and Fauna that you will not find anywhere else, it was a house in from the road that attracted me. Father Ted is a timeless comedy show that has a huge cult following. The fictional location of Craggy Island is actually in the heart of The Burren. A homestead to a farming family there are more pictures taken each year from the gates of this house than from the gates of Leinster house itself.
There was no Ted, Dougal, Father Jack or Mrs. Doyle hanging about, but a friendly Horse did stroll over to say hello, and then proceeded to try to eat my saddle through the gate.
On I rolled again and was fascinated at how little traffic I was encountering. This road through The Burren National park really is a cyclists paradise.
Two junctions later I was heading back West once more when the sky cleared and The Burren came alive. Fields of rock appeared and I wondered what the purpose of the constant stone walls bordering the unworkable land was. Perhaps to enclose sheep. The rocks contained in the fields grew bigger as I made my way along in awe of my surroundings.
Now skirting Lough Atedaun a castle caught my eye. I stopped to take a closer look, whilst a donkey took a keen interest in my handlebars. First the horse tried to eat my saddle now this donkey wanted to chew my handlebars. It was time to get moving again.
As is often the case, the rain had now cleared completely to reveal County Clare in all of it’s glory . A truly beautiful place that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world each year.
As I dropped down towards Ennistymon along another deserted back road, and the Falls Hotel once more I had a small on my face having enjoyed a great days cycling in a fabulous location."
This route would rate 3/7 for difficulty.
The Falls Hotel 110k
"First stop as I headed off from the Falls Hotel today was the post office. It wasn’t that I needed to post a letter, I just wanted to stop and admire the handy-work of the local community. By making a feature of a derelict building that could have been an eyesore the people of Ennistymon have added to the visual landscape of their town.
The road chosen for this 110k spin begins to rise immediately as you leave town. The reward is a well surfaced extremely quiet back road where the one car that I met in ten kilometres actually stopped as I cycled past.
The climb is not overly steep and rises in ramps then slackens off before rising again. Before you know it you have reached the summit where a right turn drops you back down towards Miltown Malbay. From this elevation you get to take in the full panoramic view of over twenty kilometres of Irelands’ Wild Atlantic Coastline. The straight road down gives ample opportunity to take it all in.
Turn left as you reach the town and then continuing on without veering right towards the coastline still offers fabulous views out to sea in the distance. This inland road brings you trough a bog road in the direction of Kilrush when a right turn will lead to Kilkee.
Kilkee is known for many reasons. Hollywood film stars and Munster Rugby players have been known to spend their summers there. It is also synonymous with ‘The Hell of The West’, one of Irelands oldest and toughest triathlons. My main consideration today was none of the above as I rolled into town. What was on my mind was where I would stop for a coffee.
The Diamond Rocks Cafe our near the Pollock Holes, with outdoor seating where you can watch your bike along with looking out at the fabulous sea view was first on my list. Second was The Pantry back on the main street. Both, unfortunately were closed at this time of year but the Mace shop on the corner had a decent coffee machine, homemade flapjacks and a nice ham sandwich. I sat just around the corner on a bench overlooking the beach. A perfect setting for a casual lunch.
Back in the saddle I made my way out the road towards Doonbeg. Another picturesque village which is now synonymous with one of the largest property developers in the World, Donald Trump.
The Trump International Golf Links and Hotel has a long driveway in off the road, although some guests prefer to travel by helicopter. The attention to detail is everywhere, right down to painting the rocks on the road side to blend in with the grass.
The prevailing south westerly wind was now behind me as I glided along towards Quilty. Occasionally I felt compelled to stop at some of the deserted coves and beaches along the way. I often wonder if those who live nearby these beautiful places cease to appreciate the beauty of their surroundings after a while. Life goes on as normal for those who work in shops, factories farms and offices, and the location can become just the place where you live. An Irish person visiting New York is amazed by the skyscrapers whilst an American visiting the West of Ireland is captivated by it’s beauty.
Passing through Spanish Point I was on the lookout for a few shipwrecks from the Spanish Armada, from whence it gets its name, but they have long since been destroyed by the buffeting of the Wild Atlantic. The former President of Ireland Patrick Hillery came from the Village and must have had some influence over the roads, which were again as smooth as a billiard table.
Looking skyward I now noticed the sky being divided in two. Earlier whilst eating lunch in Kilkee I had a quick look at @IrishWeather on twitter and noticed a band of thunderous weather travelling up from the south. I guess-timated the wind to be travelling at 50 mph which should have allowed me enough time to make it back to The Falls hotel before the rain arrived. Looking at the darkness of the sky just behind me now I wondered if I was going to make it.
A race began. The strong tailwind assisted my speed, but it was also pushing on the dark clouds behind. On a straight run I figured that I would just about make it, but as the road wound it’s way along, with oncoming cars now switching on their headlights I knew that I had a battle on my hands.
Sprinting up the hills and throwing the bike into the corners I began to feel a sense of confidence that man and machine could outrun nature, but nature always wins and with Lahinch now in sight the rain began to fall.
Surfers out on the ocean didn’t seem too bothered and really I was OK with it too, but it was good to have a challenge along the way.
Once again I took to the bike path on my way back to Ennistymon from Kilkee and was happy to see the Falls Hotel again after a very enjoyable days cycling. I was also happy to see the sauna and jacuzzi in the leisure centre that helped to freshen up weary legs once more."
You can book the Falls Hotel Online Here or by calling 1850 200 560 (Lines open 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday)