This started out as a reconnaissance trip based solely on OSI mapped tracks. So far this month this particular method of route finding hadn’t worked out so well with an entire day wasted faffing around Waterville.
This was more unknown territory and I had no idea what I was getting into. It was super sunny though and the first day of the year where I ran out of water! Result-ish!
Based on the map there were several options available to get me topside. The most promising of which also appeared to be the most punishing. Figuring it was better to take the pain up front I opted for a steep, well defined zig-zag farm track out of the Abha Rua River Valley near Tuar Sailín.
This being lambing season I was a worried about upsetting, justifiably, a local sheep farmer I made rapid progress from the road to the track… which led directly into a farm yard full of heavily pregnant sheep… Dismounting I made a slow and predictable path through the yard and thankfully encountered only sheep.
Onward, upward and fast. Baaa!
OMFG this is steep
The track I chose was really well put together, and recently too. Well drained and very pedallable if it wasn’t so steep. I made a good effort to make progress but I just wasn’t feeling it. An ebike would own this as would 4 months on a turbo trainer. Push, puff, push, pant, push, pedal, top!
Feeling good at the top of the track I was blown away by the views. One of the advantages of this route is how it is placed bang in the middle of the peninsula. You can see everything else!
Views down into Coomasaharn Lake, back towards Rossbeigh, the Reeks and Carrauntoohil, Waterville and over to the epic descents of Drung and Been hills (which will be featured on this site in the future)
As I was solo I was conscious that I should conserve my energy. This route was planned as a 20km open mountain hike-a-bike and I had no idea if half of it was rideable.
In hindsight I probably should have pushed up An Traigh to it’s 772m summit, but I chose the cautious approach and opted to continue on my planned route north east.
More amazing views and some absolutely lethal bog holes that would swallow a rider whole.
Seriously, if you are ripping this route in reverse keep an eye out.
Check out my top-tube
First descent of the day was a scream dropping from the summit of Moing an tSamhaidh south-east towards An Bheann Mhór. I attempted to film this using a recently acquired chest cam but failed miserably to orientate the camera and have a really nice huff-a-puff descent showing only my stem and top tube.
The saddle between the two summits was mushy and energy sapping so I wanted out fast. Maybe in summer this would be easier, but it was murder on the day and I pushed half of it.
Ups and Downs
Strictly following my map I proceeded to climb An Bheann Mhór on it’s south west side. This was super steep and totally not worth it. Looking back into the valley I could see another track which climbed up and out of the combe. This looked like absolute trail hilarity and I’ll hit this next time instead of the god-awful climb up Bheann.
More absolutely stunning views from the summit – best of the day in fact as I could now pick out the Skelligs and Caherciveen and Carrauntoohil and the Reeks looked amazing.
The descent from An Bheann Mhór to the next saddle was difficult, dangerous (solo at least) due to the lumpy rocks hidden holes and decomposing metal fence.
Losing more and more elevation off the bike rather than on, my mental state was almost as low as my water bottle level (non-existent). Picking my way down from Colly East the view of Bealach did lift me a bit but I was running out of elevation and really didn’t want to end what had mostly been an epic day out on a low note.
Enter the most challenging (in a good way), fast, loose, rocky descent of the day. This was mental descending at an irresponsible pace (massive fun clearly). The width of a quad-bike with two deep ruts at times, the track is a rip roaring combination of really sharp hairpins, dodgy stream crossings and drop-offs. Supreme fun!
I landed right into a field full of sheep and I could hear a tractor in the distance so I headed towards the forestry and my exit.
Now completely out of water and fairly shattered my route took me along a very much disused famine road to some of the Ballagh Glen forestry. Following a frustrating set of wire fences I ended up on a modern access road with the sound of logging in the distance. Deliberately heading away from the logging I aimed for my finish point.
Stacks, staff and machines
Unexpectedly, I turned a corner and was met with a line of vans, tractors, logging machines and people. I blasted straight though without so much as a good afternoon as I knew full well I shouldn’t be here.
Back to the road and to my car I was changed and gone in record time.
Thirsty and tired, but completely fulfilled I stopped into The Climbers Inn for supplies. The temptation for a cold beer was incredible but I wasn’t planning on an overnight stay so Volvic quenched my thirst. If you were planning on exploring a few of the trails in this area, the Inn would make a good, if remote, central location to stay.
Superb day out, different route next time. Check out the route page for directions and mapping.
Of all of the places I’ve ridden in Kerry, the Abha Rua valley has the most potential I’ve seen. Superb, wide access roads, multiple route options, and sheltered terrain. Trail centre material it is not – bike park it is. One for the list…