Cycling in Roundstone & the surrounding areas:
Tour de Bog is a circular tour from Roundstone usually done via Ballyconneely and taking the Bog Road back to Roundstone. It is a superb route of 20 miles/32km with a few little hills but giving a wide variety of views. Because it goes around 360 degrees you can be assured of having the wind in your face at least part of the way. If the wind is from the north, then this would have the advantage of being behind you on the last few miles back into Roundstone, which is always a pleasure, but if it is from the prevailing south west that means you have it behind you going up towards Ballinaboy, and you would usually be a little bit more sheltered against a south west breeze coming in from Toombeola on the last few miles.
The annual Tour de Bog race (which occurs in early August) could expect to take as little as two hours, but that is not allowing any time for some enjoyment along the way. On a fine day from an enjoyment point of view, it would probably be best to go anti clockwise, bringing your togs with you as this would give you the option of a swim either along the shore at Mannin Bay or in Gurteen and Dogs Bay. Interesting side excursions can be taken at Ballyconneely out to Bunowen or Doonloughan, with lovely swimming opportunities all along the route. Click here to find out more about the Tour de Bog event
The Round of Carna – Go north from Roundstone to Toombeola, then east through Cashel to the R340 to Carna. Go right [south] towards Carna a few hundred yards and take a left over a very little travelled road which comes out at Derryrush. Here turn right [south] to Kilkieran and continue to Carna. The quickest way back from here is straight up to the R340 for 7.5 miles/12km, turning left for Cashel and back to Toombeola. From Carna back to Roundstone is approximately 42 miles/67km and this delightful route allows for a number of off route excursions.
From Carna, follow the signs for Mweenish Island which is actually a series of islands joined by causeways. It is full of little beaches and interesting swimming places as well as having spectacular views.
From Carna, you can take the loop that goes around the coast through Moyrus, which rejoins the R340 at Glinsk. This quite spectacular little addition adds about 5 miles to the journey, but is very worthwhile.
About half way between Kilkieran and Carna, you can take a road down to the coast and if you properly judge it you can get out to walk Finish Island. Please note that the Ordnance Survey map [Sheet 44] in this regard is incorrect, in that it shows the stretch of land between the island and the mainland in yellow indicating that it is a beach safe to go across at all times. This is not in fact the case, in that for considerable periods of time the beach is underwater and you could quite easily get trapped on the island.
It is only approximately 18 miles/28km via the Bog Road to Cleggan, at which point one could get a boat to the interesting Inishbofin, or continue around that peninsula taking time to visit Omey Island – another island cut off by high tide In Claddaghduff. There is a road beside the RC church signposted for Omey Island and it is quite safe to bring a bike across using the route that the cars use, which is marked by posts.
Omey island is well worth exploring, but beware of getting caught there at high tide. From Omey, you can continue along the north side of Streamstown Bay as far as the main road and immediately there is the option of going out the south side of Streamstown Bay, approximately 5 miles/8km, to a beautiful parking spot at the end of the peninsula at Eyrephort opposite Inisturk – not to be confused with the larger and more inaccessible Inisturk to the north. You can continue then along the north shore of Clifden Bay which is a very scenic route, known generally as the Sky Road into Clifden and return.
Kylemore Abbey/Inagh Valley – At it’s shortest, using the Bog Road to get to Clifden, this is 46 miles/74km, but it is very do-able, because it has no hills and therefore allows for a number of pleasant diversions from the main route. Go from Roundstone towards Toombeola and take the Bog Road to Ballinaboy and from there to Clifden. From Clifden, you then follow the road north towards Cleggan and Letterfrack following around the north side of Connemara National Park. This part of the road to Letterfrack is narrow and winding but very enjoyable. The real beauty of the cycle is after Letterfrack, past Kylemore Abbey and then turning down into the Inagh Valley. This joins the main Galway/Clifden Road for a few miles before the road to Roundstone is reached on the left.
Excursions that can be taken off this cycle are as follows:
•Diamond Mountain is a short sharp hill climb commenced through the Connemara National Park, adjacent to Letterfrack. At the summit, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of The Twelve Bens, and the surrounding area.
•Kylemore Abbey has a very fine market garden attached as well as a very good café/restaurant, which comes very recommendable for lunch. The abbey itself is also worth a visit.
•For those looking for spectacular sea scenery should take a left turn at Letterfrack for Tullycross. Once there, take a right turn back through Gowlaun which affords spectacular views. To the north west, Inisturk, Caher Island and Clare Island will all be visible in the distance, and a clear sunny day! Passing back alongside Lough Fee to join the Clifden/Leenane Road, at which point, turn right and travel 2.5miles/ 4km to reach the top of the Inagh Valley and then as outlined above. This adds approximately 10miles/16km to the entire journey but makes it extremely worthwhile. Lough Inagh Lodge halfway down the Inagh Valley is worth a stop for refreshments.
Leenane/Maam Cross – This is the longest of the five main routes at 64miles/104km. Go from Roundstone via Toombeola to Inagh Valley and from there go right to Leenane, which is an excellent place for lunch and possibly the last pitstop before Maam Cross. From Leenane head south on the Maam crossroad, first to Maam and then over a low pass before descending to Maam Cross. Go straight through Maam Cross as is for Screeb and Costelloe and after 5.5miles/9km go right (west) along the coast road, first to Gortmore, then to Derryrush. From Derryrush continue west to the Carna/Recess Road, at which point you go right and after a few hundred yards left for Cashel, Toombeola and finally Roundstone. It might be possible, subject to time constraints, to combine this cycle with the Killary Harbour cruise which is based on a jetty about 2.5miles/4km outside of Leenane.