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Irish Gravel Compendium

  • 05-01-2018 10:39pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 3,477 ✭✭✭ rollingscone


    Ahoy,

    Has anyone started compiling a guide to mostly offroad and contiguous "gravel" type routes?

    Been exploring the back road up Three Rock and the route Alek mapped out from Masseys wood to Prince William's Seat lately and would love to do more.

    The two Canal Towpaths in Dublin have their merits but are either shared spaces or prone to invasion by Scobies.

    Having grown up in surrounded by farms and private quarries I've always assumed that there must be miles and miles of fire roads and tracks running across this type of land but I've no idea where or how accessible any of this trail might be?

    It seems to me that the development of contiguous "gravel" trails crossing 100km+ would be a logical extension of the various Greenway projects as both tourism and quality of life infrastructure.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,520 ✭✭✭ Alek


    I can only say about the area around Dublin: there is plenty of short routes that can be connected by road. 170km Weevil had 60-70% gravel, but continuous 100km in this SimFarm land? Fageddaboutit or emigrate... :P


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,457 ✭✭✭ ford2600


    The mapping of routes take a bit of work but ime it is the best cycling I've done.

    I've only done one ride in East Cork, but have a lot of exploring done in S Tipp/West Waterford.

    If you mix quite roads with forest tracks it is streets ahead of any greenway; it is honest pedalling though. Typically 20m climbing per km so not for everyone.

    You will get lost a bit but what harm.

    My last spin had these 2 river crossings

    I did a 100km spin to Cork city in August with a mix of county roads and some off road. Building it with more off road wouldn't be that difficult but it would still be predominantly tarmac or once was tarmac more than gravel


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,929 ✭✭✭ nilhg


    If you come out into the main commercial bogs there would be plenty of gravel service roads and possibly even some unused bog railway lines that navigable on a CX/gravel bike.

    For example you'd have 15/20kms of unbroken gravel either side of here, some of it would be rough enough though.

    As Ford says you could join various stretches of road like this with L roads and canal bank and make a considerable distance, plenty of the L roads are often no much better than gravel tracks in places


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,929 ✭✭✭ nilhg


    Actually, when peat use at the power station in Clonbullogue stops the railways are going to be a useful piece of infrastructure for some nice greenways.

    See here and here and here, that stretch goes from almost at the old briquette factory near Derrinturn to close to the new Windfarm in Mt Lucas, which has public grave roads that bring you out the Tullamore side of Daingean


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,350 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    Alek wrote: »
    I can only say about the area around Dublin: there is plenty of short routes that can be connected by road. 170km Weevil had 60-70% gravel, but continuous 100km in this SimFarm land? Fageddaboutit or emigrate... :P

    A number of the longer ones around Wicklow are also dead ends that leave you tantalisingly close to the road you're trying to get to only to be forced to backtrack. Starting in Laragh, this is a nice one which takes you up the other side of the river almost as far as Glenmacnass. My approach has been to look at possible routes on google maps satellite view and/or OSM, create a route for the Garmin and try to follow it on the ground. Makes for some good exploring but also loads of doubling back and pushing the bike on terrain that is beyond my technical ability..


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,477 ✭✭✭ rollingscone


    Alek wrote: »
    I can only say about the area around Dublin: there is plenty of short routes that can be connected by road. 170km Weevil had 60-70% gravel, but continuous 100km in this SimFarm land? Fageddaboutit or emigrate... :P

    A new quest for you Alek.

    #you'rewelcome


  • Registered Users Posts: 461 ✭✭ timmyjimmy


    Lots of interconnecting forest roads in West Waterford/South Tipp and east Cork. Get lost enough and you'll even find a waterfall

    https://www.google.ie/search?q=ballysaggart+waterfall&safe=off&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiR8Kn428PYAhVFAcAKHaX2Bz4Q_AUICigB&biw=1276&bih=703


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,457 ✭✭✭ ford2600


    timmyjimmy wrote: »
    Lots of interconnecting forest roads in West Waterford/South Tipp and east Cork. Get lost enough and you'll even find a waterfall

    https://www.google.ie/search?q=ballysaggart+waterfall&safe=off&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiR8Kn428PYAhVFAcAKHaX2Bz4Q_AUICigB&biw=1276&bih=703

    Good man Timmy.

    You'll eat your dinner after this
    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26685090

    I've ridden most of it, some fording and porting maybe required!


  • Registered Users Posts: 157 ✭✭ bingobars


    OP you have an opportunity here to get this guide up and running. It would be great to see. Like mentioned already in the thread peat bogs are great locations then forestry roads of course and has anyone cycled around a wind farm? Amazing terrain as they are normally hilly, vast and accessible by vehicles so good fast gravel


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,457 ✭✭✭ ford2600


    bingobars wrote: »
    OP you have an opportunity here to get this guide up and running. It would be great to see. Like mentioned already in the thread peat bogs are great locations then forestry roads of course and has anyone cycled around a wind farm? Amazing terrain as they are normally hilly, vast and accessible by vehicles so good fast gravel

    There is a very occasional poster on here with a book on such roads about to go to print.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 191 ✭✭ novarapid


    ford2600 wrote: »
    Good man Timmy.

    You'll eat your dinner after this
    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26685090

    I've ridden most of it, some fording and porting maybe required!

    Hi Ford2600, any chance of sharing some of your routes, in West Waterford and would like to do some exploring, the link you posted is private thanks


  • Registered Users Posts: 461 ✭✭ timmyjimmy


    ford2600 wrote: »
    Good man Timmy.

    You'll eat your dinner after this
    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26685090

    I've ridden most of it, some fording and porting maybe required!


    Would love to see your route, it doesn't seem to be public. BTW, it's very close to where I grew up! My brother has an offroad jeep and he would be very familiar with that area. I know that sometimes he goes from near Lismore to nearly Kilworth, completely offroad.

    I was actually up there on xmas eve on the mountain bike. There's fire roads that nearly go as far as the Vee. Worth checking out if you're willing to put in the effort!


  • Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭ df


    ford2600 wrote: »
    There is a very occasional poster on here with a book on such roads about to go to print.

    I am that occasional poster but can't mention the project for fear of banning.


  • Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭ df


    Ahoy,

    Has anyone started compiling a guide to mostly offroad and contiguous "gravel" type routes?

    Been exploring the back road up Three Rock and the route Alek mapped out from Masseys wood to Prince William's Seat lately and would love to do more.

    The two Canal Towpaths in Dublin have their merits but are either shared spaces or prone to invasion by Scobies.

    Having grown up in surrounded by farms and private quarries I've always assumed that there must be miles and miles of fire roads and tracks running across this type of land but I've no idea where or how accessible any of this trail might be?

    It seems to me that the development of contiguous "gravel" trails crossing 100km+ would be a logical extension of the various Greenway projects as both tourism and quality of life infrastructure.

    Coillte forest must have thousands of kilometres of gravel road. Technically illegal to cycle on however. I discussed with them the possibility of relaxing this rule in certain locations and they were open to the idea, that said there has been no further progress.

    There certainly is huge potential to create some long off road (as opposed to mountain bike) trails that would be a huge attraction. I think many of the long distance walking trails would be more suited to cycling than walking as many contain long stetches of road and not many people have the time to complete then on foot (you could cycle in a weekend what you would take a week to walk roughly speaking).


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,457 ✭✭✭ ford2600


    novarapid wrote: »
    Hi Ford2600, any chance of sharing some of your routes, in West Waterford and would like to do some exploring, the link you posted is private thanks

    As a local I forgot about a few private bits. One farmer is ok with bikes I just want to check with the other guy before routing strangers through his front yard.

    I'll try and ride it in next few weeks. It's 137kms of fairly challenging cycling, there is no easy bit on it.

    I'll post up once done


  • Registered Users Posts: 414 ✭✭ LennoxR


    There are some very interesting gravel roads off the Bohernabreena and Shankill roads (past Kilbride military base in Dublin mountains) at the moment they are mainly used by dirtbike (ie motorbike) riders but good fun on gravel bike. There are more gravel roads off the Gap Road, which rises over the Blessington lakes, but I haven't explored them yet.

    Many sections of the Wicklow Way are fire road, but you have to skip some bits if you'e on a gravel bike and you don't want to walk. A fun but technical and dead end, road is the Moate road, a bog road that runs from the military road towards Kippure mountain but peters out into bog walking trail and doesn't quite link up with the Castlekelly bog road that rises out of the Glenasmole valley.

    Further afield I did some enjoyable roads spins in the Sliabh Bloom mountains in Laois and Offaly last year. Due to getting lost we ended up doing quite a few dirt roads and I noticed a lot more off the 'Wolftrap' climb. Have always intended to go back with the gravel bike to explore furhter but haven't got around to it yet. I also believe, but haven't seen, that there is a large network of fire roads in the Silvermines mountain in Tipperary.

    I think the ideal gravel spin is a mix of road and gravel, I wouldn't get too caught up about whether you have to use paved roads, as long as those roads are quiet. It's all exploring and a good gravel bike will be good both on paved and dirt roads.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,457 ✭✭✭ ford2600


    ford2600 wrote: »
    As a local I forgot about a few private bits. One farmer is ok with bikes I just want to check with the other guy before routing strangers through his front yard.

    I'll try and ride it in next few weeks. It's 137kms of fairly challenging cycling, there is no easy bit on it.

    I'll post up once done

    Checked out a section of this today, meant to do more but forgot Garmin again; the section between Newcastle and Clogheen is magic, rideable singletrack/forestroads/once was tarmac.

    Went off for a wander after that and found a lovely pedestrian bridge over the Tar, meant a few hardy bucks out open coursing, and found a few more bits of South Tipps lovely boreens.

    The route I originally posted up, unintentionally passes where Liam Lynch
    *had his last meeting as republican leader
    *where he was shot
    *the pub he was brought to before he died

    If I can find another site or two and find a byroad into St Joseph's Hospital, where he died, I'll have to name spin after him

    Can someone change thread tiltle; it's Ireland how about swapping cow****/mud for gravel?


  • Registered Users Posts: 247 ✭✭ El Vino


    Seem to be loads around Glen of Aherlow, forests at foot of Galtees, Galbally and Ballyhouras, definite scope for a good spin there. Will try to put something together to try.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,561 ✭✭✭ thebouldwhacker


    Let me know if you're hosting a spin Ford 👍


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,781 ✭✭✭ Carawaystick


    There's lots of forest/mine roads around the Avoca copper mines, from Avoca down to Arklow via Wodenbridge, and some spurs up to Barraniskey and Ballymoyle hill.

    You'ld need to cross the town but then there's Glenart and either back to Woodenbridge or
    then theres Croughan Kinsella mountain, loads of forestry roads, loops and the potential to to go via quiet roads to the back of the mountain with more forestry.



    The area around the the Grand canal seems ripe for this, with the Canal towpath and the BnaM train lines clustered around


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  • Registered Users Posts: 875 ✭✭✭ brocbrocach


    ford2600 wrote: »
    The route I originally posted up, unintentionally passes where Liam Lynch
    *had his last meeting as republican leader
    *where he was shot
    *the pub he was brought to before he died

    If I can find another site or two and find a byroad into St Joseph's Hospital, where he died, I'll have to name spin after him

    How about calling it the No Other Law

    "We have declared for an Irish Republic and will live under no other law"


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,457 ✭✭✭ ford2600


    http://threerockbooks.com/index.php/cycling-ireland/

    This book is just out; I haven't got my hands on it yet but have seen a lot of the intended Munster routes. For lads who don't have time/inclination for picking out quite lanes it would be a great start.

    Given the number of routes there is some work gone into this book I would think.

    An occasional poster here mapped a 100km route in east Cork yesterday for me. 20km of good but quite tarmac, about 70km of "roads" which have seen much better days and 10km of gravel/earth/grass. The whole group of 9 were smiling ear to ear at finish; its the type of riding which adds the fun/smiling normally reserved for mtb riding


  • Registered Users Posts: 247 ✭✭ El Vino


    thanks for sharing, just bought a copy as an early birthday present to myself!


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 10,250 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Borderfox


    Ordered a copy for myself too, thanks for the link :)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,457 ✭✭✭ ford2600


    This thread seems to have died a death!

    In the last 12 months or so of looking, it seems to me the best you can do in most parts of Ireland is combining back roads with primarily forestry roads. As @nihlg, bog roads might work to but I don't have them and haven't come across much of the on holiday locations, primarily in the west of country. The new network on real bo reens being built around country would be great to ride but can't see Irish dairy farmers being receptive to hordes of cx bikes!

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28392568

    Something like this which nearly 70km long, has about 17/18km of off road. It's a magical part of country and really quite off the regional roads. I haven't ridden the off road sections (brought wrong bike!!) but I'd be happy to give it a go when back up there.

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28379355

    56km with about 25km off road. I've ridden a lot of this quite regularly and again primarily off road is forestry ( the exception being military road on Clonmel/Rathgormack road) Not quite sure about 17.2km to 18.3km but its showing up on map.


    Two things I've learnt on gear; tubeless is a must and discs would be nice almost as compulsory


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,520 ✭✭✭ Alek


    tubeless is a must

    I'd widen this definition: medium-low tyre pressures are a must, which makes tubeless a must... You can get away with tubes running high pressure and a cast on wrists ;)


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,492 ✭✭✭ De Bhál


    ford2600 wrote: »
    This thread seems to have died a death!

    In the last 12 months or so of looking, it seems to me the best you can do in most parts of Ireland is combining back roads with primarily forestry roads. As @nihlg, bog roads might work to but I don't have them and haven't come across much of the on holiday locations, primarily in the west of country. The new network on real bo reens being built around country would be great to ride but can't see Irish dairy farmers being receptive to hordes of cx bikes!

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28392568

    Something like this which nearly 70km long, has about 17/18km of off road. It's a magical part of country and really quite off the regional roads. I haven't ridden the off road sections (brought wrong bike!!) but I'd be happy to give it a go when back up there.

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28379355

    56km with about 25km off road. I've ridden a lot of this quite regularly and again primarily off road is forestry ( the exception being military road on Clonmel/Rathgormack road) Not quite sure about 17.2km to 18.3km but its showing up on map.


    Two things I've learnt on gear; tubeless is a must and discs would be nice almost as compulsory

    thanks very much - I look forward to giving that one about Clonmel a go.


  • Registered Users Posts: 414 ✭✭ LennoxR


    For gravellers in the Dublin/Wicklow area, just some updates on my explorations over the past year.
    There is a really good logging road, about 8 km over Sorrel Hill, near the Blessington Lakes,and another 7 km loop of logging roads in nearby Ballysmutten, which I've ridden since I posted here last. And to get there, there's a nice gravel road through the Glenasmole valley past Tallaght and another nice (but hard) gravel road that links the Ballinascorney and Kilbride roads. It's a roughly 60 km loop. Tough, with lots of climbing but good fun.

    I hope my friend doesn't mind if I post the route that we rode on strava.

    https://www.strava.com/activities/1722425241

    Second favourite would be following the Wicklow Way route, starting at Kilmashogue, going over he top of Three Rock down onto Ballybetagh road, then over the next range of hills (the top is call Prince William's Seat, you can also follow the Wicklow Way but that involves a bit of hike a bike) and down onto Glencree Road, then follow the Wicklow Way across the valley and do the logging roads on the other side starting at Crone Woods.

    Here's the route, roughly.

    https://www.strava.com/routes/14641564

    A bit further afield, I've recently ridden the fire roads at Balinastoe where the mountain bike trails are. They deposit you over the lakes at Lugalla, you can then take a left and then a right onto the Wicklow Way, which in this part is nice dirt road, which will take you near Lough Dan overlooking Roundwood. One interesting discovery I made during the year is that there is nearly a dirt road that connects this road with he military road, across the southern side of Lough Dan. Astonishingly beautiful but you have to walk for a bit where the dirt road becomes a walking trail called Logan's Way.

    For short spins, Hell Fire Club and Massey's Wood and Cruagh Woods are a good combo.

    Finally, I'll just repeat my opinion as expressed in the post above earlier this year. For me, at any rate, gravel riding should not shade into mountain biking, because then you have to use bike that is inefficient at road riding. So for me a good gravel ride involves decent roads kms as well as gravel. Use robust and wide but mostly slick tyres and pressure should not be too low. I favour 50-60 psi personally on my Cannondale Slate.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,520 ✭✭✭ Alek


    There is a really good logging road, about 8 km over Sorrel Hill

    Thanks for this one, must give it a go soon :)
    Lough Dan overlooking Roundwood. One interesting discovery I made during the year is that there is nearly a dirt road that connects this road with he military road, across the southern side of Lough Dan. Astonishingly beautiful but you have to walk for a bit where the dirt road becomes a walking trail called Logan's Way.

    I made the same discovery this year - a truly stunning place! It's included it in this year's Weevil ride https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=107836385&postcount=60 and I think its one of its highlights ;)


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  • Registered Users Posts: 414 ✭✭ LennoxR


    Alek wrote: »
    Thanks for this one, must give it a go soon :)



    I made the same discovery this year - a truly stunning place! It's included it in this year's Weevil ride https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=107836385&postcount=60 and I think its one of its highlights ;)


    So you have... That route looks very interesting, but although I do a lot of gravel riding, I think that's a bit too far for me in one go! (on the road, yes but on gravel I think the most I've ever done would be 7--80). Fair play to you though.


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