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Thread: Emerald Isle by Ural

  1. #17
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    May 2004
    Thanks again for the positive comments

    Right then....I`m back home and settled after a 12 hour shift,so here goes....

    .................................................. .................................................. ....

    Part the seventh….Saturday 22nd November 2008.

    Larne-Antrim Coast-Ballycastle-Portrush-Portsteward-Coleraine-Culdaff-Buncrana

    Following a wonderfully comfortable night`s sleep and a delicious ‘Tuned In approved’ lax-approach-to-vegetarianism bacon batch and boiled eggs courtesy of Mandy,we set off towards the Antrim Coast.
    Aidan thought it best to take a direct main road route to reach the coast North of Belfast,and once we were on the A3 towards Antrim he waved me in front…and I promptly set a Ural 650 Land Speed Record of not far off 60mph !!!

    The day was dry (though with a forboding sky in the distance) but still windy.
    In fact,a blooming strong wind was blowing…resulting in a repeat of the battering headwind from yesterday as Skaya struggled along the wide open A26 and A57 which were the best choice to reach the Antrim Coast while avoiding the traffic hassle of Belfast.
    I felt guilty about Aidan making possibly the slowest bike ride of his life,but we`d discussed the speed factor and my desire to tour on Skaya before the trip became a reality and on the other hand,he was probably getting about 100mpg from his GS !

    Things settled once we reached Larne,and then Skaya became happier and I became ecstatic when we joined the A2 Coast Road.
    This was fabulous….a true classic coast road literally alongside the sea.
    The wind stayed strong all day but there was no more battling a full on Northerly headwind on open roads which was such a struggle earlier.
    One of the first sights to grab your eyeballs after a slight climb from the first section of coast road is Carnlough Bay.

    Apologies for the spots on the photo...there was light drizzle amidst the strong wind.

    We stopped at a nice Tea Room in Cushendun for tea,coffee, scones and chocolate cake (warmed,with cream of course).

    Cushendun is just North of Cushendall and is the last town (village ??) on the North East Antrim Coast,at the head of a picturesque bay.

    The wind was still strong,being Northerly,and even Aidan was feeling it.....

    It`s a lovely little town and harbour.......

    From Cushendun we climbed a narrow and steep lane giving a great view over Runaby Head and most unexpectedly also giving a clear view of The Mull of Kintyre and some of the Scottish coast and mountains.

    It was a real surprise to be in Ireland and glance over your shoulder to see Scotland !

    These lanes then carried us on right around the coast near Torr Head and Murlough Bay, then Ballycastle Bay.
    This photo shows what is Runaby Head leading to Torr Head and Murlough Bay. The coastline was a constant treat for me.

    A few miles further on we stopped to view the scary looking Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge.
    This links the coast to a small island where fishermen used to trail nets right into the sea.
    You can just see it linking the mainland at the left of the photo with the island to the right.

    I settled on just taking a few photos but it`s possible to walk down a fair way to reach and cross the bridge...I think SpannerRash has walked it.
    I settled for a different kind of living on the edge when I scaled the coastal fence to take this photo...I was about to place my gloves on the ground while I took the photo,but the howling wind would have resulted in a search for a non existant Hein Gericke shop........

    Arriving at the car park for The Giant`s Causeway, we learned that it was a half mile walk along a track to reach it.
    That meant a mile walk return trip with photo time….taking up time we couldn`t really afford as we wanted to ride across to Magilligan Strand and get the small ferry to Inishowen (a peninsula which is virtually a full island) then ride to Culdaff for a bite to eat and move on to Buncrana for the night.
    It also gave a good excuse for a return trip in the future to visit The Giant`s Causeway and to sum up courage enough to cross the rope bridge.

    Whenever and wherever we stopped,the locals were fascinated by Skaya ...

    I forget exactly where now,but in the region of Portstewart/Castlerock there was an attractive castle just before a lane down to a nice bay.
    Looking at the map it must have been Dunluce Castle.

    Just after this we dropped down to Portrush and then we rode on to the beach at Downhill (a sign said no motorcycles...I had three wheels so was probably ok but Aidan was a bit naughty ).

    It`s a long time since I last rode on sand and it was quite fun.

    This photo shows a railway tunnel for what Aidan told me had been described as one of the most picturesque railway rides in Europe. The building on the clifftops is a 'folly', the Mussenden Temple.

    Here we chatted to some hardcore fishermen attempting to land SeaBass for their tea,and met a guy with a very nice Spanish lady from one of the adventure bike holiday companies….she posed on Skaya for his camera but I got a bit distracted and forgot to take any photos!

    Aidan tried to contact Tuned In (Gary) but he feigned problems with a new communications gadget (yeah,right…)
    so we didn`t manage to speak with him until we were at the Magilligan ferry, and by then we were too far apart for him to meet us,sadly.
    Here`s the ferry arriving.

    The ferry runs every hour,cuts out quite a few road miles around the Lough Foyle coast and only costs a fiver for a bike.
    The crew were amusing….asking us if we were terrorist pirates coming to steal their ship.

    Crossing Lough Foyle to Inishowen.
    This photo makes me think of the Irishman who went home for a wake and stayed for two. (sorry )

    Daylight was fading when we reached Inishowen,but it`s a great place…like a different land entirely,and I really enjoyed the lanes and coastal ride we did.
    I want to revisit this area some day.
    Kinnagoe Bay was very pleasant,despite it being the scene of shipwrecks in the Spanish Armada days.

    There`s a plaque explaining the wrecks and locations all around the Irish Coast.

    Aidan had tried to arrange an overnight stop at Culdaff,in Caratra House,a splendid pub with accommodation,but they didn`t have rooms available for us.
    Here`s the place if you`re interested....

    We settled for a bowl of fantastic vegetable soup with delicious hot baguette and butter the road in full dark on unlit lanes over to Bucrana….home of The Civil One.

    Full dark it was too…especially for me with no dip beam (my spare bulb was also broken…). I angled the headlamp shell downwards and used high beam but sometimes felt compelled to switch to sidelamp when behind cars.
    There was a spooky ride for several miles along the unlit R244 and R238 going around Slieve Snaght.
    Somewhere near Ballymagan…just outside Buncrana…there was a small conflict between East and West in the early 1700`s…..well, I`m sure it was just after 5pm when I rammed the back of Aidan`s GS.
    We`d come around a fairly tight right hander to be met with a Stop sign and an unusual Give Way to our left.
    Classic moment……I looked left and saw a car but it was far enough away for us to move off…I had seen Aidan move away,and I did a last ‘lifesaver’ over my left shoulder.
    When I looked forwards again,Aidan had stopped!!!
    I hit my ABS brakes (well,two 7”drums on a combo ain`t EVER going to lock up,are they ???) and swung to the right.
    Unfortunately not enough,and my sidecar mudguard just caught his numberplate and broke the corner off.
    Gulp…I was gutted but he was okay about it.

    We arrived at Buncrana in the rain,and met The Civil One (Philip).

    Philip was nothing like how I imagined from his Forum posts and I`m really glad I met him.
    He very kindly opened up his compound so we could leave the bikes safe while he drove us around town to find accommodation for us.
    And that was after he`d sorted a hostel for us which we politely declined ,preferring to pay extra for the privacy,comfort and convenience of our own rooms.

    In fact,Philip almost visibly blanched at the sound of people wanting to pay more money than they could actually get away with!
    Anyway,he found us a convenient place to stay then took us back to our bikes and led us to his personal garage/workshop which he opened up for us to store our bikes overnightand ,leaving us in charge of the locking arrangements when we left in the morning .

    The three of us chatted for quite a while,especially about Urals and Skaya in particular, Philip seemingly fascinated and quite impressed with the design concept of the Ural combo and the way it`s put together.

    In fact,he was so impressed that he offered me a swap for his 1200GS,although he doubtless knew that a refusal was a dead cert from me!
    He even tried plying me with free drink to make me change my mind.

    Then The Foolish Fellow (Matt) arrived with his small son (James ?) who was agog at the combo….it was a combination (pun not intended) of mysterious curiosity and fear of the unknown I think.
    Naturally it was time to clamber over Skaya for some photos.

    Time was getting on,so we bade our farewells and went to our accommodation,and met the most babe-alicious landlady I`ve ever encountered…so much so I pondered leaving my room unlocked when I went to bed,but I didn`t know if Aidan was a sleepwalker,and the potential horrendous consequences meant that my door was securely locked all night.!!
    A quick shower and freshen up, then it was walk to the pub and Guinness time…and a fabulous fresh Haddock,chips and mushy peas.

    Hardcore that we are,I think we were both back in our rooms and fast asleep by not much later than 11pm!

    All that Irish air again…..


    If you think about it, you're probably better off staying at home and looking at most places on Google Earth.

  2. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    The Hoose
    fecking couldn't wait

  3. #19
    Nice but unfortunate husband.
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    South Armagh, Ireland
    Quote Originally Posted by Tarka View Post
    He even tried plying me with free drink
    There will be many people in Ireland (and further afield) falling down out of their standing when they read that line, but it's true.
    There are two opinions of the GS. There are those who have ridden one who think its fantastic and there are those who haven't who know its crap.

  4. #20
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    Oct 2006
    Can't take credit for having the cajones to do the rope bridge at Carrick-a-rede, only done a flying visit ! Herself wanted to do the full walk down to, mooch about on, then walk back up from the Giant's causeway. Too much excitement for me in one day!
    Definitely on my "to do" list whenever I'm back in Ireland again!

    BTW: Great write up Tarka!!!
    "You're only young make it last a lifetime"
    Fil Tomaszewski.

  5. #21
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    Jun 2007
    Co.Down, Ireland
    Great read Steve

    Can't believe youse got a free drink out of thon boyo up in Donegal

  6. #22
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    May 2004
    I thought I`d keep Tuned In happy and post a bit more tonight rather than wait for tomorrow, as planned.
    .................................................. .................................................. ....

    Part the eighth…..Sunday 23rd November 2008.

    Buncrana-Letterkenny-North West Coast-Donegal-Kesh-Armagh-back to Aidan`s house.

    We set off at a ‘Bejeezusly early’ time (quote,The Civil One) without breakfast to maximize on daylight intending to eat after an hour or so.
    The first bit along the N13 took us parallel with the River Swilly to Letterkenny then we took a nice route along the R255 beside the Derryveagh Mountains and Muckish Mountain until the coast at Falcarragh.
    A little bit further on from this point you crest a rise and the scenery is breathtaking…so too is the wind which threatens to lift you from the ground.

    In the photo below we are looking Eastwards across the peat bogs and over Tory Sound towards a distant Horn Head.

    Aidan`s GS had been at a 45 degree angle and he was almost hanging off the right side of his seat simply riding in a straight line,such was the wind strength.
    After the crest you drop down right to the coast and on to Bloody Foreland which I wanted to visit .
    It was difficult to stand upright,difficult to hold the camera steady,and Aidan`s bike almost got blown over when he had parked and got off it.
    In this photo he is standing in a strange posture because he is struggling to stay upright.

    At one point the sun broke through the clouds in a most dramatic fashion.

    I`ll make no apologies for taking and posting a few photos of this phenomenon.
    One of the treats you get from Winter riding..........

    All of this coastline right around was simply amazing…beautiful,rugged,and any other superlative you may care to use.

    I hope that cottage has got bloody good double glazing.....

    I think it was Dunglow before we had breakfast,due to many eating places being closed in this ‘out of season’ time,and we actually ate in a hotel which kindly let us use their dining room and created a very nice cooked breakfast for us.
    Again…Tuned In approved of course….. ‘laxly vegetarian’.

    There was a comedy moment for me when Aidan had asked an old boy ( who appeared to be waiting for the pub to open ) where we could get breakfast…..the old boy stood quiet, chewed his pipe,then uttered ‘Oh…..`tis a baaad morning` for a fella to be lookin` for breakfast….’
    Sorry,but I couldn`t help chuckling as I imagined a set from the Fast Show or similar….

    Duly fed and watered we rode the Glengesh Pass which reminded us both of the Llanberis Pass in Wales,but without all the rocks.

    From here we headed for Killybegs then Donegal.
    Skaya went onto reserve along here…and I knew that her reserve lasts no more than about 4 miles.
    So about 4 miles later Aidan and I were using Skaya`s ten litre Jerrycan and funnel to refuel her in a layby…in a hailstorm….with wind so strong that the fuel was being blown OUT of the funnel!!
    Told you we were hardcore.
    If you look in the background of the Killybegs/Donegal Bay photo you can see the lines of the hailstorm.

    If you consult your map,you`ll see where I was when I took this photo of a giant`s hand.

    Talking of hardcore,in Killybegs harbour we chatted to some trawlermen who were from Cork and had been out in the Atlantic Ocean at 5am that morning.
    The weather was so extreme that they took refuge in Killybegs Harbour and were busy tidying their nets which they`d hurriedly wound aboard earlier.
    The nets ran for over a quarter of a mile!

    Ever onwards we rode……next destination Donegal centre.

    This was where we met ‘Blade’ (Bob) aboard his red R1100GS.
    Bob was a really nice guy…I`ve never met or even chatted with him,yet in the week before my trip he had offered an overnight stop at his home if I was ever in his locality,along with contact numbers in case of any problems.
    This shows not just the true biker spirit but also shows the root core community spirit of UKGSer and long may it last.
    Bob had effectively made an 80 mile November bike ride in order to buy a total stranger a caramel slice and a mug of coffee…top fella.

    Bob said he was pleased to have a reason to get out on the bike and elected to ride back with us….and was even happy to ride behind me and Skaya,despite us probably spoiling his fun on the twisties (although he later seemed amused at how many times I got close to lifting the sidecar wheel….).
    Aidan led us on a cracking ‘Boreens Run’, along all kinds of wet and slimy lanes, from Donegal through Kesh and on to Armagh where Bob made his own way home.

    It was a shortish,but very dark, combined sidelight/high beam ride from here back to Aidan`s home for the night,where Mandylicious met us with a Mandydelicious fabulously fortifying help yerself tatties/vegetables/Tuned In ‘lax vegetarianist’ chunky ham pieces and gravy tea.

    Plus wine of course.

    If you think about it, you're probably better off staying at home and looking at most places on Google Earth.

  7. #23
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    Oct 2006
    Not fair!

    Keep posting yer rascal! Don't go to bed! I want to know how it finishes.

    Great so far Steve. I'm getting all mellow and missing Ireland so much, it's 4 years since I last went, and the pix and words are making me realise how much I love the place.
    "You're only young make it last a lifetime"
    Fil Tomaszewski.

  8. #24
    Nice but unfortunate husband.
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    South Armagh, Ireland
    Quote Originally Posted by Tarka View Post
    I think it was Dunglow before we had breakfast,due to many eating places being closed in this ‘out of season’ time,
    Steve, the oul fella was in Dunglow and we had the brekkie in the Highland Hotel in Glenties.
    There are two opinions of the GS. There are those who have ridden one who think its fantastic and there are those who haven't who know its crap.

  9. #25
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    Mar 2006
    Glasgow Scotland
    Smashin chaps was over In Donegal last year on the bike brought it all back cheers.If thats Civil he looks the specky wee fud a thought he was

  10. #26
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    May 2004
    I really should be in bed by now,seeing as I`m up at 5am for work tomorrow,but duty calls and here`s some more of my report.....

    .................................................. .................................................. .............................

    Firstly,I forgot to post this photo in the previous instalment.
    The green highlighter shows the route Aidan and I took.
    Not bad going for two days in the back end of November,I reckon......

    .................................................. .................................................. ..................................

    Part the ninth….Monday 24th November 2008.

    Mad dash morning-slow starter motor-cross country to the Wicklow Gap-Roundwood.

    I awoke from a very comfortable sleep at silly o`clock and crept downstairs to avoid waking anyone.

    I made myself comfy with a coffee and read a bit of my book until a whirlwind of chaotic panicking ensued as Mandylicious and Aidan attempted to get to work on time after an alarm clock setting faux pas.
    (I`m never one to drop someone in it,am I ???? ).

    I bade farewell to Mandy as she screeched off in a cloud of tyre smoke and then loaded Skaya while imploring Aidan to get going for his work.

    Here`s Skaya in her sleeping quarters at Aidan`s.
    It was fun reversing her into place.

    Aidan kindly elected to see me off first…and probably soon regretted that decision when Skaya decided to not start.
    She turned over slower and slower….then there was the smell of petrol from a near to flooding engine…so Aidan offered his jump leads from his car.
    After reversing his car into position…and finding the jump leads weren`t in the boot.. and going into the house to gain access to the garage…it was only natural that Skaya would start up ok!

    We bade our farewells…Aidan heading off to work and me heading to a fantastic nine Euro full Irish breakfast at Cootehill.

    Veggie brekky ?

    A very lax approach to one.

    Tuned In would have thoroughly approved.

    A most enjoyable breakky it was too....this photo shows the contact details of the cafe.
    Highly recommended.

    A lot of today`s ride was fairly featureless,apart from a nice castle at Trim (I think) and another hot cococolate fudge cake and cream at Enfield.
    Here`s the castle.

    There were some lovely houses in the County Kildare area...I actually doubled back to photograph this one.

    It was worth riding the featureless section to reach the fabulous scenery and roads to be found East of Newbridge.
    The section from Kilcullen onwards was a real joy…especially from Hollywood through the Wicklow Gap to Glendalough.

    I kept stopping simply to take it all in…and for a few photos of course.
    Wicklow Gap was simply breathtaking.

    Every bend in the road made me stop for a fresh photo.

    It is a simply stunning area and I don`t think anyone will mind a few indulgent photos of it all.

    On reflection,this area made my day

    Wicklow Gap...........simply stunning.

    From Glendalough it had been suggested to ride to and stay in Laragh but it seemed just a little bit quiet and I decided to press on a bit further.

    The day was running late…daylight was fading.

    Finally I found a room for the night in The Coach House pub at Roundwood,which despite sounding like the perfect setting for a sci fi abduction movie or B movie slasher film turned out to be a quiet and friendly little village.

    The evening was seen out in grand style.

    A few more of these and I slept a deep and peaceful sleep.

    .................................................. .................................................. ....

    If you think about it, you're probably better off staying at home and looking at most places on Google Earth.

  11. #27
    undead Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    Jan 2006
    booker, high wycombe.
    great ride report cant wait to go one day soon myself

    always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.

  12. #28
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    May 2004
    Sod going to bed and sleeping because of work in the morning....I`ve got a Ride Report to finish !

    Here we go then.......

    .................................................. .................................................. ....

    Part the tenth....and part the last....…Tuesday 25th November 2008

    After sleeping the sleep of the dead,I awoke at a very indulgent 8am and had a refreshing shower,packed my gear onto Skaya and then had a nice Continental style breakfast in The Coach House.

    9.30am saw me negotiating several road barriers and a busy policeman due to some filmwork going in in Roundwood.
    Gawd....maybe it was an alien abduction/slasher film ....

    It had been my choice and also Aidan`s recommendation to spend the night before my return ferry South of Dublin and this paid off as I enjoyed a relaxed and scenic ride along the R755 towards Kilmacanogue and then joined the easy flowing N11/M11 into Dun Laoghaire which was fully sign posted all the way to the ferry terminal.

    A word of caution to anyone doing a similar trip to mine........I gave myself plenty of time to catch the ferry.

    At a relaxed Ural cruise it took me 50 minutes to reach the terminal from Roundwood.

    However,there are several awkward and busy traffic light junctions between the main road/motorway and the ferry terminal....and you could spend half an hour or more on the last mile or two,so don`t cut it fine when coming home.

    The HSS was bang on time...the crossing was smooth as silk.

    In this photo you can see the power of the HSS water jet propulsion developed by the gas turbine engines.
    Bye bye Ireland.
    See you again soon.

    On disembarking at Holyhead I was prepared for a mind numbingly dull and boring trip along the A55 home.

    However,there was a treat in store when distant Snowdonia hove into view.....

    That view got better and better as I approached the Menai Straits and Bangor............

    After this it was simply A55 and Chester High Road ...arriving home at 15.40.

    1400 km from Friday morning to Tuesday afternoon.

    On a 37hp 650cc sidecar combo with a realistic maximum speed of 55mph.

    Ireland....a beautiful country full of very nice people.

    Many thanks to Aidan1150,Mandylicious,The Civil One and Blade.

    And thanks to all who take the time to read this.....hoping you enjoyed it.
    If you think about it, you're probably better off staying at home and looking at most places on Google Earth.

  13. #29
    Nice but unfortunate husband.
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    South Armagh, Ireland
    Good report there fella. You are very welcome to return again at any time Steve.
    There are two opinions of the GS. There are those who have ridden one who think its fantastic and there are those who haven't who know its crap.

  14. #30
    The future’s bright.... Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    At sea

    Nice one Steve... was that meat I saw there on your brecky plate

  15. #31
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    Aug 2005
    N E Hampshire

    Reeley reeley reeley (as we say in Dublin) enjoyed these reports and the pictures.

    I am an expat Irishman long since exiled to London. (In fact I was at primary school with Jockser of this parish, a partner in crime of Aidan1150 if I understand correctly!).

    But 'home' is near Dun Laoghaire where you took the HSS. As a student in the mid-70's I used to ride an old BSA 500 up through the Wicklow mountains and to Glendalough, and your photos brought memories flooding back.

    It is probably more than 20 years since I rode a bike in my home country (even though I have ridden through 21 countries this year alone).

    So your report has embarrassed me/motivated me to want to make a bike trip to Ireland, and shun Ryanair's Ł1 each way tickets - damn the expense.

    Thanks for this. I'll just make sure I bring a rain-suit...I have enduring memories of biking to uni or work and being completely wet through by the time I got there (only 10 miles).


  16. #32
    Gone Fishin' Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Norn Iron
    Thanks for posting a great report - it's always interesting to read about places we in Ireland know well and to see them through others' eyes, gives us a new perspective. Hope you come back again soon

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