Cycle series: Take the hidden sky road from Borris

The roads are quiet and there is a gradual climb that gets steeper with distance

The Borris Viaduct at Borris, Co Carlow

The Borris Viaduct at Borris, Co Carlow

 

This short but surprisingly interesting loop takes in some of the most scenic roads in the south-east. It can be comfortably completed on a summer’s evening, with the reward afterwards of a visit to one of the local traditional-style pubs.

Starting at the top of the bustling village of Borris, continue down to the bottom of the village and turn left, exiting under the sparkling granite viaduct that was once part of the railway line from Bagenalstown to Wexford. Running alongside the road is the Mountain River, a marvellously wild river for much of the year.

The roads are quiet and there is a gradual climb that gets steeper with distance.

Two kilometres after the viaduct take a left-hand turn and follow signs for the Mount Leinster Heritage Drive for another 4km. At the crossroads take the left turn, signposted Muine Bheag (as Bagenalstown is also known), followed by another left turn a short few metres away.

The road sweeps around to the right and there is a virtually hidden road on the right around the bend. Turn onto this road and it begins to rise steadily.

The view gets better and better with each metre ascended, rising to 321 metres at its highest.

Local knowledge has it that St Columbanus was born close by here. Columbanus, regarded by many as the “first European”, travelled across the continent founding many monasteries and becoming one of the most influential historical figures in Irish Christianity.

There is hardly ever any traffic up on this road along the side of Slievebawn, which is surprising, given the marvellous views from the top.

The road descends rapidly once the top is crested. Turn right at the next crossroads and follow the signs into the village of Myshall. A visit to the Adelaide Memorial Church is a must. A miniature of Salisbury Cathedral, it was built by John Duguid of Dover in memory of his daughter who was killed in a horse-riding accident while visiting her sister in Myshall.

Adelaide Memorial Church in Myshall, Co Carlow, is a miniature of Salisbury Cathedral
Adelaide Memorial Church in Myshall, Co Carlow, is a miniature of Salisbury Cathedral

Leave Myshall by the road you entered the village but continue straight ahead as far as Garryhill and turn left at the crossroads. Borris is approximately 10km away and the road is flat all the way. Reward yourself with a visit to one of the many fine hostelries in the village.

Edited Extract from “Cycling South Leinster – Great Road Routes” by Turlough O’Brien, published by the Collins Press, price €14.99, from bookshops and collinspress.ie

“Cycling South Leinster – Great Road Routes” by Turlough O’Brien
“Cycling South Leinster – Great Road Routes” by Turlough O’Brien

HIT THE ROAD

Route: Borris – Slievebawn – Cúl na Sneachta – Myshall – Garryhill – Borris

Location: Co Carlow

Distance: 36km

Duration: 2 hours

Grade: 3

Height Gain: 473 metres

Verdict: Great short cycle featuring good climbing and views

Start/Finish

Borris is 30km south of Carlow and 26km east of Kilkenny. Coming from Carlow, take exit 6 off the M9 and continue through Leighlinbridge and Bagenalstown. If coming from Kilkenny, take exit 7 at Paulstown and continue through Goresbridge to Borris. Park on the main street.

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