A Four Season Cycle

It hailed. Of course it hailed: it is Ireland and Easter.

Also: rain drove, wind gusted and sun shone. It’s what keeps this country green and gives everyone something to talk about. Once you have four seasons in the one day, you’ll never be at a loss for words.

During the break, we wrangled in the time to do part of the Waterford Greenway, a 46 kilometre walking/cycling path from Waterford City to Dungarvan running along the old Great Southern and Western Railway Line.

After driving from Dublin, checking into our B&B, having lunch and picking up a third bike in Dungarvan, the afternoon was marching on and the rain moving in. Off we went, anyhow, along up the wide path through the green.

It’s perfect for cycling, as it should be: wide enough to accommodate different speeds and styles of travel, smooth enough to be comfortable, or as much as you can be on a bike saddle for 46 kilometres. There is a bit of a grade but no real steep hills.

Dungarvan is a postcard-perfect Irish town, with its harbour, castle, city walls and a wonderful selection of restaurants and cafés. Dungarvan Bay is a Special Protection Area, a haven for around 20,000 wintering birds and other wildlife. The windows in our bedroom gave us a 180 degree view of the estuary and a causeway takes the Greenway right across it.

Our wheels kept turning between gorse and whitethorn, past fields green enough to hurt your eyes, along a ridge that gives you a breath-catching expanse of the Copper Coast, even in the grey moments of a four-season day.

The route crosses three viaducts built around 1878: Ballyvoyle (blown up in 1922, rebuilt 1924), Durrow and Kilmacthomas (featured in a Flavahans ad – we discussed ways to re-create that, most involving ‘Dad’ and ‘jumping’). It passes a derelict dancehall, many disused train stations – some being restored – and several station houses perched right beside road junctions. Viking sites, a ruined castle, a church and 13th century Augustinian Abbey, Cloughlowrish Stone, and lots of sheep (and lambs!) are other things to look out for. If you need more diversion than that, bring along a 13 year-old who thinks it’s hilarious that ‘piles’ and ‘miles’ actually rhyme; that will distract you for sure.

We thought we’d have a bit of shelter in the Ballyvoyle Tunnel, but there were a lot of drips, showers and puddles in the 400 metres of its eerily lit length.

From Kilmeadan we wound along beside the Suir Valley Railway and the River Suir Special Area of Conservation. On one side the river, on the other the back of Mount Congreve Gardens, with more than 2000 rhododendrons and a gate if you want to stop off for a visit. From there, it’s straight on, over the Thomas Francis Meagher Bridge to Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city.

And time to turn around, and head all the way back.


Our route:

The first afternoon we travelled from Dungarvan to just past Kilmacthomas where we stopped for coffee at Coach House Coffee, somewhat ironically located in Kilmacthomas’ Famine Workhouse, before heading back to Dungarvan, a round trip of about 46 kilometres. The next day we drove and connected up with the Greenway at Kilmeadan and cycled toward Waterford, and back, covering another 12 kilometres.

There are many places to park so its easy to join the Greenway and walk or cycle for a bit. Rest stops for bathrooms or snacks are clearly marked and frequent enough, with an old train carriage, a pub that’s been in the O’Mahoney family since the 1860s, a café in 70 acres of gardens of Mount Congreve or the above-mentioned Famine Workhouse as options for a good coffee. Bike hire is available at many points along the way and some offer a shuttle service.

Greenway links: Waterford Greenway and Deise Greenway (as its also known).

For an island cycle, see Round about the Neighbourhood.


2 thoughts on “A Four Season Cycle

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