Cycle series: A scenic trip suitable for all abilities
Co Carlow route has ancient castles, heritage gardens and houses, and beautiful rustic scenes
Take in the views around Drumphea, Co Carlow.
This route explores the centre of Co Carlow and is mainly flat but with two significant hills. Between ancient castles, heritage gardens and houses and beautiful rustic scenes, it’s a lovely route suitable for all abilities. With the railway station behind you, begin by continuing down to the mini-roundabout and taking a left-hand turn onto Kilree Street, heading for Borris. Cross over the railway bridge and turn left onto the L3001 signposted for Corries Cross.
Continue for about 4km and, as the road begins a gentle climb, make a right-hand turn. This will bring you over to the Church of the Good Shepherd, Lorum. The road rises and falls on the approach to the sleepy village of Ballinkillen. Turn left at the bottom onto the L3004 heading for Corries Cross just over 2km away and continue straight ahead to the next crossroads.
If you wish to visit Ballyloughan Castle, turn left; otherwise go right, continuing down the hill to another crossroads. Continue straight ahead in the direction of the signposted Templemoling Cemetery. Along the way you will see a fine example of a tower house, a renovated RIC barrack. The cemetery is a spiritual place with stunning views of the Blackstairs. Continue past the cemetery on this narrow boreen and turn left to head towards Drumphea.
It’s a steep climb to Drumphea. Continue downhill and take a sharp right back uphill on a small side road. Turn left at the next T-junction. The road now runs parallel to the river Burren, which rises on Mount Leinster.
Take a very sharp left at the next T-junction and continue across to the next crossroads, where you turn right, heading towards Myshall. In less than a kilometre take another left onto a side road that runs straight for about 2km. Turn right at the T-junction, followed by a left onto the R724. At the next T-junction a few hundred metres ahead take the side road to the right. The road meanders for some time; then turn left at the T-junction.
At the next T-junction go right and after 2km turn right at the signposted Cappagh Crossroads. Just after another kilometre follow the road around to the right and continue on to the next T-junction. Turn left here and up ahead at the Kilbride Crossroads is the Forge Restaurant.
Cross the N80 and continue on to Altamont Gardens, widely regarded as one of the premier heritage gardens in the country. On leaving Altamont, turn right and continue for 3km to a T-junction. A right-hand turn here will take you down to the Aghade Bridge and fantastic views of the wild river Slaney. However, we turn left on our route and cross over the N81 at the eccentrically named Bang Up Cross.
Shortly after, take a right-hand turn signposted for Sandbrook House and continue on this road for 4km. Take a sharp left followed by a sharp right and then take the next right onto a narrow road.
Continue to a T-junction and take a slight left onto the L3046. Follow the road around the bend and continue on, passing The Fighting Cocks GAA Grounds to the staggered junction with the N80. Cross over past the Fighting Cocks pub and the road begins to rise. After about 2km take the side road straight ahead and soon you will be battling one of the severest gradients around to Bradleys Crossroads at the top of the Nurney Plateau.
Cautiously continue straight ahead and downhill to the next cross and go right. Still heading downhill turn left at the next crossroads, Augha Cross. Augha Church ruins are located just ahead but turn left and continue on this road down to Dunleckney Cross.
Turn left here followed by another left to visit Ballymoon Castle (or continue straight ahead for a slightly shorter route). Turn left onto the R724. The 14th-century Ballymoon Castle is ahead on your left.
Turn around to return to Bagenalstown, which is just under 4km away.
An extract from Cycling South Leinster – Great Road Routes by Turlough O’Brien (The Collins Press, €14.99), available in bookshops and online from collinspress.ie
Hit the road
Route: Bagenalstown - Ballinkillen - Drumphea - Altamont Gardens - The Fighting Cocks - Bagenalstown Distance: 69km Duration: 3-3.5 hours Grade: 3 Height gain: 652m