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Leisure Cycling Blog

Day trip to Dublin and Howth


A day trip to Dublin for £20! Going to Dublin was a spur of the moment idea. I saw that there was a Ryanair £9.99 sale on a few weeks ago (always try and book 3 weeks out!) and I also had some lieu days for working at the excellent SPIN Cycling Festival in Manchester the weekend prior on the Wheel2Wheel Holidays stand.

This type of day trip is one of my personal favourites. One day to catch a plane somewhere, do a mini cycle tour and then fly back to Manchester the same day. This almost seems decadent and strange to some, however for £20 return on Ryanair this was no luxury tour.

I have been to Dublin several times for different reasons, however, I have never really explored the city and the surrounding area by bike before.

Back to the Dutch bike hire shop...

I set off from Manchester Airport at 0800 and arrived in Dublin for 0900. A really short flight with only 30 minutes spent in the air and the rest of the time going through the take-off and landing procedures.

I went back to a previously used cycle hire shop close to O’Connell Street and next to the river which is really handy for its central location. The owner of the bike hire business is Pawel from Poland. He had recently bought some brand new Dutch-style bikes which are ideal for getting around the improving Dublin cycle network.

Despite having a public bike hire scheme named after the sponsor - Coke Zero, it is much easier and quicker to use a local bike hire shop especially if you are planning on using the bike for 3 hours or more.

To Howth along the Clontarf Cycle Path...

My main aim of the day was to reach the picturesque village suburb of Howth approximately 15km from Dublin City Centre. The route is an ideal leisure cycling journey with great coastal scenery, segregated cycle paths, some challenging uphill sections and a pretty fishing village/marina to spend some time exploring.

I left the regenerated Docklands area and headed towards Clontarf, a nice residential area with sweeping views across Dublin Bay. I have sailed into Dublin in the dark on the ferry on previous visits, so never really seen the power station that dominates the Dublin Bay skyline.

Unlike other capital cities, Dublin doesn’t have many tall buildings and it’s main aerial landmarks include the ‘Spire’ aka the ‘stiletto in the ghetto’ and the Trade Union tower that is wrapped in a 1916-2016 Easter Rising Banner. The power station chimneys are an iconic symbol amongst the low rise Dublin skyline.

Howth Peninsula is like a giant mound that has the appearance of an island as it dramatically rises in height compared to the flatlands of Dublin. After a steady climb to reach the ‘Summit’ which was quite tough on a Dutch bike with a rear pedal brake, I made the quick descent into the village centre and caught a glimpse of the ‘Ireland’s Eye’ island a few kilometres offshore.

I left the village after a quick stop for photos of the marina and returned on a flatter route than previous thus completing a circumference of the peninsula. The tailwind pretty much halved the time that it took to get to Howth in the first place and I arrived back into Dublin city centre.

Back on foot...

There was no real point in keeping the bike for the afternoon as many of Dublin’s main attractions are better accessed on foot. Popular attractions like Temple Bar, the Guinness Museum and the River Liffey bridges are notoriously bad for traffic congestion and despite improvements to the city overall for cycling provision, the stretches either side of the river are still fairly dangerous for cycling.

I left the bike with Pawel and strolled around the city centre. Dublin has the feel of a redeveloped, provincial British city such as neighbouring Liverpool that gives the Irish capital a compact feel when compared to a sprawling metropolis like London.

That said, Dublin is a magnet for business, government and culture which pulls throughout Ireland. The contrast between the cities of Dublin and recently visited Limerick in western Ireland for example is stark.

To Dublin Airport ready to fly home...

I left the city centre at around 1630 to get to Dublin Airport by bus and wrote this on my Windows Phone and a Bluetooth keyboard as the plane was delayed by 40 minutes. I can write these blog posts on the move with just my phone!

In summary, today shows that with a bit of planning you can do a plane based microadventure, see somewhere different on your bike and spend less than a day trip by train/car to just a nearby region.

Next time you have a day off work, why not think about cycling in a different country?

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