Day 4: Castletownbere to Glengariff

winding road to glengariffThe Ride: 21 miles, 1300 feet of climbing. For a map, click here.

This was to be a short day, with plenty of time for exploring Glengariff upon our arrival.

The ride undulated along with frequent views of the coast. About 11 miles along we came to a craft center Adrigole, so I stopped to check out the art, have a slice of lemon cake and a bottle of water in the coffee shop.

A mile and a half beyond the craft center we came to steady climb of about 350 lasting three miles. At the top were wonderful vistas of the road still before us and the countryside descending down to Bantry Bay.

Before coming to Ireland, I had heard “how green it is.” So I had expected something overwhelming, intense, better than Technicolor. But for the first three days we had pedaled across a lot of rocky, relatively barren ground – though beautiful in its own, less than spectacularly green way.

As we coasted down into Glengariff, the terrain changed, less rocky, more trees. I started to think, “OK, this is what I was expecting.”

After we met and had lunch at the Blue Loo Pub in Glengariff, Billy, our guide, took three of us in the support van up a very the steep Killarney-Glengariff road to near a pass with some spectacular views of the now Technicolor countryside.

The Glengariff Park Hotel was easily the most modern and nicest hotel we stayed in – and I judged that by two criteria only – the strong stream of hot water in the shower and the soft mattress and down duvet.

After showering and changing clothes, several of us took a ferry to Garnish Island. Along the way we passed groups of seals sunning themselves on rocks well out in the bay.

In 1920, a wealthy businessman had Garnish Island turned into a garden with neo-classical buildings, fountains, reflecting pools and a wide range of exotic plants and trees, many of which are not native to Ireland but survive here because of mild climate of Glengariff. The island and its gardens were once a favorite retreat of George Bernard Shaw.

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