About Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is like the garden of Eden. It is totally dominated by gentle, rolling farmlands, protected by a rugged coastline in the north and the Mourne Mountains in the south. Northern Ireland does not have an abundance of spectacular views. But the cycling in Northern Ireland is surprisingly hard. It mainly consist of small hills along farmlands. There is no big climbs. But there is plenty of vertical climbs with a height difference of between 50 and 300 meters. In particular on the north coast (Glenariff to Londonderry), the Antrim Hills, the Sperrin mountains and the Mourne mountains.
The whole coastline of Northern Ireland from Newry to Londonderry offers some superb coastal cycling. The seven glens of Antrim offers some very good cycling in small, remote valleys. The area around Mourne Mountains and Sperrin Mountains offer some brilliant mountain scenery. The inner part of Northern Ireland is more flat and offer some quiet cycling on country lanes. The Fermanagh Lakes area offers some very good cycling in a tranquil landscape.

All the main attractions are easy accessible from Belfast, Larne, Newry or Londonderry. There is plenty of villages, pubs and cheap B & B. There is virtually no tourists in Northern Ireland so you have the tourist facilities to yourself. Which is a crying shame because Northern Ireland has a lot too offer to everybody. The price level in Northern Ireland is reasonable when it comes to food and accommodation.

The roads in Northern Ireland is very good indeed. Even small country lanes is excellent. In many cases, they are even better than the main roads. A very good idea is to base your route on small country lanes (non-graded roads, B roads and minor A roads). The sign postings could be better, but there are some very good maps in the shops and they are easy to read.

Base yourself on B & B and youth hostels. Do not bring tent. Most of Northern Ireland is farmlands and it is virtually impossible to find a place to pitch a tent.

Language wise, everyone speak English. Although with a strange accent. The people in Northern Ireland is extreme friendly towards foreigners.

Local Wildlife

Northern Ireland is very strongly based on farming. Farm animals totally dominates the landscape. I have only seen one fox and a couple of hares, but that is all. There is no snakes or any dangerous animals in Ireland. Mice and rats is everywhere. Whales and dolphins are visitors on the coastline. There are plenty of birds of various sizes in Northern Ireland. Just let me mention that Belfast Zoo has a very nice collection of dangerous animals. But they are not let out on the loose. That is all there is of wildlife.

Avoiding the troubles/the civil war.

As you know from the news, there is a simmering civil war in Northern Ireland. The situation is far better than it was some years ago. I have never had any problems whatsoever. There is not much chance to be shot or getting into trouble if you are a cyclist. But there are some precautions you need to take. When it comes to Belfast, avoid Crumlin Road at night. Be a bit careful in the other big cities like Portadown, Newry, Coleraine and Londonderry. Do not wear any orange, Celtic or Rangers colors. Do not express any strong political or religious views. Stay away from the council estates. Use common sense, be kind to the locals and you will be OK.

Where to cycle in Northern Ireland & recommended places.

Mourne Mountains
The coastline between Newry and Londonderry.
B 15 between Ballycastle and Bushmills, including Giant Causeway.
The Seven Antrim Glens.
The Sperrin Mountains.
The Londonderry to Omagh road.
The Antrim hills (B 94).
Fermanagh Lakes.

Recommended equipment.

The weather in Northern Ireland can be quite cold, even in summertime. Besides of helmet, gloves, cycle shorts and solid shoes, you also need windproof and warm clothes. Bring a solid cycle repair kit and some essential spare parts.

Cycle: I recommend a racing bike or a light mountain bike. You are always near a town or a village so light weight packing is recommended. Midge repellent spray is also essential. Fitness wise, you will do a lot of miles if you are fit. It is also an advantage if you do the Antrim Hills or the Mourne Mountains. But Northern Ireland is for everyone at every fitness level. What about a honeymoon in Northern Ireland ?

Recommended start point.

Larne or Belfast is the recommended starting and end point in Northern Ireland. You can take the train from Belfast or Dublin to Newry and start from this town. You can also take the train from Belfast to Londonderry and use that city as a jump off point. You can use Londonderry as a jump off point for cycling in Donegal too.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Enjoy the read.

Torodd Fuglesteg
10. June 2002

List of daytours:

Tour # 1. Around the Belfast mountain. 60 km

PLEASE NOTE: This page is updated with new tours every month. Please be patient.