Yesterday’s non stop rain continued all night and again this morning. Paul, our host at Zion Hall, made us an early breakfast and we had to leave as soon as possible due to having to be at the Dublin Ferry Port by 8.00am to check in with Irish Ferries, as we would board at 8.15am for the 8.45am departure on the Jonathan Swift ( a fast craft but still a 2 hour trip). Vince wanted some medication for sea sickness and when I went into the pannier I discovered it had leaked and everything was swimming in water. Our original plan was to camp in Snowdonia but this would now be impossible with our sleeping bags etc all being completely soaked through.

The journey was a rough one across the Irish Sea – if you walked around it was like you we drunk staggering everywhere. I joined Vince in taking some medication and we both slumped over our jackets on the seats next to us to rest. We managed to not be sick even though we didn’t feel too well. The ANIMAL was fine downstairs …this being her fourth sea voyage in total, and third ferry ride (Mallaig to Isle of Skye (Scotland), Cairnryan to Larne (Nth Ireland) and now Dublin to Holyhead (Wales)). She attracted the usual attention from other riders at the ferry port and on board.  She also proved of interst to an older Welshman, his daughter and her two children at the local McDonalds when we stopped inHolyhead to get our bearings and look at our Map. I gave  them some of our 2upadventure stickers and they seemed pretty pleased. Holyhead is on the Isle of Anglese and we had to cross over the Manai bridge to get to the mainland in Bangor.

We decided to go through Snowdonia (which I keep calling Snowlandia by mistake) and ride as far as we felt comfortable and then find a B&B …as it rained continually. From Bangor we headed out to the start of the Snowdonia National Park passing through Betws-y-coed and down the A5 to Druid before turning South down the A494 passing through Bala before arriving at Dolgellau.

We found the Dolronwy B&B on Baker St and Maureen and Alec made us very welcome for 35 pounds each for a double. The house they stay in was originally the fire chief’s and the part we stayed in was the original bakery until the 1970s. They were very helpful letting Vince put the ANIMAL in their garage and, when we explained about our panniers, giving us a drying rack to use in the hallway in addition to our room. It looked like a bomb had hit with stuff layedout everywhere, our medical kit was completely ruined …all the medication boxes falling apart in my hand.

Dolgellau is a historic small market town from the 12th Century at the foot of the Cader Idris mountain range in southern Snowdonia. Alec told us about Owain Glyndŵr who held the last Welsh Parliament there in 1404. St. Mary’s Church dates back to 1716, but was built on the remains of an earlier building from the twelfth century. There are even earlier remains by Ffynnon Mair (Mary’s Spring) which was thought to have had healing properties centuries ago. Roman coins were found there around two-hundred years ago.

After we unpacked and tried to dry things out, we went for a walk in town and saw some of the original buildings now homes …the bank, the shopping mall, the police station and we even had coffee at T.H. Roberts, in a building that used to be Parliament House. The owner, Tom, and his nephew spoke to us … we were still in our riding gear…they both ride and are interested in overland travel. We also chatted with a couple who ride a tandem bicycle.

Back at our B&B, we started watching a DVD in our room (The 100 ft Journey) before going to the The Royal Ship Pub for a roast dinner. We will need to get up early tomorrow to get everything packed away…hope it dries in time!


Waterford to Dublin

No breakfast in the no frills Travelodge and off into torrential rain …soaked us both through ….boots and socks soaked, wet weather gear and into my adventure jacket. My riding pants completely soaked as well as my gloves….basically a sodden mess. Vince wanted to just ride all the way through on the M9 …so we didn’t stop until we reached our B&B in Dublin ….no one home! So we took time to get some lunch..the waiter took pity on us and turned the heater up for us as we dripped all over his tiled floor. Lunch was tasty and hot …I went to the ladies to thaw out my hands under the hand dryer… as my fingers were hurting and didn’t work. We went back to the B&B and Paul, our host, was home and made us a hot drink each to warm us up. We booked a double for 90 pounds (cheapest we could find in Dublin) but later when we got back from our dinner with Alex) found it was just two single beds put side by side with a throw rug ove the top …single bed linen underneath…we were to tired by that time to care! We unloaded the bike and put our wet things around the room to try to dry them out….a hot shower to warm up and get into dry clothes…then catching up on emails etc as we have wifi here. Tonight we plan to catch up with Alex ( a rider we met on the ferry to Skye) who lives here and have a pint! NB: we did this …had a lovely evening and meal with our new friend Alex….very enjoyable!

and Vince says …. got deliberately blocked by an ignorant BMW driver who prevented me from making a lane change approaching our Dublin off-ramp, so had an extra 10 minutes/10km pissing around to get back to where we needed to be to find our B&B. At the end of a long, wet and windy ride it would have been nice to take the more direct route to Zion Guest House, but instead we had a scenic detour around Dublin – thank goodness for the automatic route recalculation on the GPS! The roads here are pot holed and have deep manhole cover pits, and there was a lot of standing water covering the roads, so the detour was not really a welcome diversion, but it was a better option than trying to force the issue with the car driver and losing the point. And up to that stage the ride had been very enjoyable despite the hard rain. The first part of the ride I sat on about 100-110kph on the 120kph M9, but the bike seemed to handle the occasional cross-winds better at 120, so I just cruised up the motorway sitting at that speed, sometimes managing to peer through my foggy visor to check where the road was leading. We had the motorway almost to ourselves, overtaking the infrequent truck, and sometimes being overtaken by a little buzz-box.

Killarney to Waterford

Back to rain, rain and more rain! After breakfast we headed off into the wet weather and travelled to Waterford, with just a brief petrol, toilet and snack stop along the way. We had an hour to wait until the next tour of the Crystal Factory so we had lunch in th cafe. We also put the pacsafe nets over our dry bags for the first time … As we both had funny feelings about leaving the bike unprotected. In the end we went and moved the bike closer to the actual Crystal Factory so we could keep a better eye on it … No real reason just a funny feeling! Better safe than sorry! We both found the tour very interesting and there are some very talented people around …then you seen all the hand work that goes into each piece you can see why it’s so expensive. Vince offered to buy me a piece and I was tempted by the Lizmore Whiskey Tumblers …but at 150 Euro each ….I decided that money is needed elsewhere for our travels…so no purchases made. We have found the UK extremely expensive and it has blown our daily  budget out of the water…but it is what it is …we are being careful in our choices of accommodation, meals etc….but it costs what it costs and that’s that I guess….the savage weather has not helped as it has forced us into B&B’s rather than camping ( which is much cheaper but still the same cost for a tent as a camper or caravan…and they charge per person not per tent and some places charge for showers – so still more expensive than we initially thought). We managed to get into the Travelodge for 54 euros ( $80) which is cheap by UK standards – very basic but clean and serviceable!

… and Vince says that without generalising, there are some ignorant and/or arrogant car drivers here in Ireland – ones that will look you in the eye and then still pull out in front of us and dare us to collide with them, or when they overtake us on the motorway they slide past us inside our lane, as close as they can get. Absolute knobs. At first I thought they were bike-hating drivers, but they do it to other car drivers as well. And they’re not driving shitboxes – they’re in BMW’s and Audis. Obviously money doesn’t equate to driving courtesy in all instances.

Ring of Kerry

After breakfast, prepared by Maria of Orchard House in Killarney, we set off to explore the 179km Ring of Kerry welcomed by our first sunny and rain free day in Ireland. We stopped off in Kenmare for lunch and then off to Blackwater, Sneem, Castlecove, Caherdaniel, Waterville to St Finans Bay along the Ring of Kerry. It was very pretty along the coast, but quite sedate in terms of actual riding. The roads in Ireland are very bumpy in general but otherwise uneventful. Looking for something a little more adventurous we took some of the Mountain passes ( Mullaghanattin , Ballagah Beam, Molls Gap and the Gap of Dunloe back into Killarney National Park) whilst tame by some of the other roads we have been on (Raiders Road in Scotland and Torr Rd in Northern Ireland) still a nice ride. During the pass we met Jean Pierre from Paris, who was touring on his own (we had passed him earlier on the Ring of Kerry) and it was interesting to here about his travels and he was envious of us being able to take a 12 month trip. Whilst riding the pass we had to stop along the way for Vince to do the boy thing and have a pee break … Surfice to say my SheWee has now been christened successfully! An interesting way to see the Killarney National Park is via the Jaunting Carts….it was lovely to see the horses and carriages in the Forrest.

And Vince says … that the N70 that runs west from Kenmare and marks the southern section of the Ring of Kerry is sealed, but is rutted in some sections – the left-hand track has subsided in places and is a good 3-4 inches lower than the rest of the road surface – where the rut ends and rises up to meet the road there’s a steep, sharp lip, and I can imagine that hitting that at speed would be quite disconcerting, especially as the rise was often at angles to the road – a good opportunity to lose your front wheel sliding across the lip. I choose to stay in the right wheel track and avoid the dramas 🙂 The ‘steep climb’ out of Catherdaniel described in Colette Coleman’s “Great Motorcycle Tours of Europe” was a complete non-event – we’d finished the climb and pushed on for a while when Karen asked over the intercom when was the climb coming up, as she was looking for something exciting to occur 🙂 And our usual preference is not to ride the same road twice, but I did backtrack 14km from Ballinskelligs back to Waterville so we could get away from the coastal route and go explore the mountain passes… 

We managed to get our camping gear dry and packed up early. After a healthy (fruit, yoghurt, cereal and small pancakes) breakfast at Ashgrove House we set off around 9.30am for the short ride (100km) to Killarney ….I was frozen to the bone and my thermals needed washing…so we pulled over and Vince gave me his from his soft bag as he wasn’t using them …he’s so kind to me…best husband ever! Even with the thermals and my electric vest I was frozen and it rained continually. I see why Ireland is so green! But after six days of rain and cold I’m so over this weather ….cold and miserable!

We decided to find accommodation for two nights and do some day rides out …to the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninisula and Beara Peninsula. We stopped at Orchard House and got a lovely loft room for 35 Euro per person per night including full Irish Breakfast from David – son of the owners Maria and Mike.

We took a walk into town and got some washing done  for 12 Euro. It’s great to have my icebreaker thermals back. We had lunch at the Laurels pub and although full of atmosphere the food was not the best. We went back to our B&B and I tried to warm up by hopping into bed whilst Vince caught up in emails etc as we finally have wifi again.

In the evening we went and had a look for an Irish charm for my bracelet and settled on a cladagh design by Tara’s Diary….the heart represents love, the crown represents loyalty, and the hands represent friendship….very special! We had a drink in The Shire…a Lord of the Rings themed pub….but it was very quiet with not a lot going on.

We got a few supplies at the local Spar…we thought we might try to catch some Irish music tonight but the pubs only start going late around 11.00pm and that’s past our bedtime!

We left the Travelodge in Galway around 10.30am…without breakfast… as they had a Contiki Tour of 60 in so no room for us. We couldn’t get dinner the night before because the kitchen was closed all day due to them changing all the bed’s over….and as charming as Shamous (the manager) was we still had to wait an hour for our room even though we arrived at 5.00pm!

It was raining, cold and miserable…so we had to decide whether or not just to say another night in Galway, go straight to Limerck and find accomodation, or go ahead with our original plan to see the Cliffs of Moher.

It was going to be a shorter day today on the bike …. So we decide to press on …going to the “Edge of the World”….the Cliffs of Moher. Enroute via the R478 we weaved our way up the aptly named Corkscrew Hill…quite difficult and steep.

When we got to the Cliffs of Moher, they charged us 6 Euro each for the privilege! Everywhere in Ireland costs these days…nothing’s for free. The cliffs are claimed to be the most amazing in the world (214m/700ft) with walks and views over the Atlantic Ocean. We had a nice, but pretty steep, walk….the rain had a short break whilst we were there and held off until the very end and then soaked us on the way back. We enjoyed it and walked up to the view point to the right with the castle and then over to the left to the top off the first cliff. It was not an easy walk and at times we had to climb over a style or two….not for the faint hearted or elderly. We didn’t enjoy all the other tourists…some people are so rude and inconsiderate….I guess we have been pretty spoilt with most places we have gone being a bit off the beaten track having few people to contend with. We also rode past the Burren ( a limestone and fossil like rock formation stretching as far as the eye can see and home to a variety of flora and fauna).

We headed on to Limerick and found a B&B (Ashgrove House) around 4.00pm and Helen was happy to rent us a room for 35 Euro each. It’s a bit expensive but I was feeling a bit sick with all the twisties we had today and needed to rest …so we took it.

Here’s a Limerick written in Limerick….

2Up Adventures are taking a motorbike riding trip

So the ANIMAL they sent on a really big ship

She went across the sea

and was waiting for thee,

Now the adventure really begins I’ll give you the tip

Dinner was found just around the corner, at the Shamrock Chinese Restauarant, built into the side of a petrol station. Dinner was bland and uninspiring, and walking back to our B&B a passing car clipped a puddle and showered me from head to foot in water.

Back at our B&B we spread out our tent and sleeping bags – still damp from camping at Portballantrae, and read our books in the evening.

We both had a restless night and were feeling cold…when we got up we realised why…there was frost all over the tent and bike….my air hawk was frozen solid!

This meant that some of the moisture had got into our tent making our sleeping bags damp! No wonder we felt cold. We put everything out to dry and went into town for breakfast at the Old Bushmills Inn….very warming and yummy!

Back at our campsite we packed up as best we could…although some things ( like the groundsheet) were not completely dry ….but the rain was on its way …so we hit the road by 10.30am.

We had a long drive (around 270 km taking 5 hours in the saddle) and the weather literally gave us all 4 seasons in 1 day ….rain, hail, snow and shine…..but always cold…in fact it really got above 2.5 degrees – and with the wind chill factor on the bike we were freezing …even with our electric vests. Enroute to Londonderry the snowflakes came so thick and fast they completely covered our visors and as fast as I wiped it clear it filled up again. I raised my visor to see but they were hitting me so hard in the face it felt like needles! Very scary ….as there was nowhere safe for Vince to pull over so he had to soldier on…he is amazing and I trust him with my life!

We stopped at Sligo for some lunch and to warm up a bit.

We knew we were in the Republic of Ireland once road signs changed from yards and miles to meters and Km and prices were now in Euros not Pounds.

We got to Galway around 5.00pm and eventually decided to check in to the Travelodge for a little comfort after a hard day….at 59 Euro it was a bargain compared to the UK.