Post 22 - 2015 Biking Adventure

Day 44 & 45 - Wales & Ireland
14th June - 15th June - Newport - Rosslare - Fethard
Total biked - 1,173 kilometres ( 733 miles)

We make our morning coffee at the Newport beachfront, using our ‘BioLite’ wood-burning camp stove with scrap cardboard for fuel since all the wood was wet. Biolite is having a photo competition each week and we figure the photo of the stove at the beach may have a chance. Check Instagram under #EnergyEverywhere to view and like our submissions, and others.

We depart Newport for the port of Fishguard just a few miles to the west. An easy bike ride except for the final hill which is straight up :-(

The boat is the best yet - a huge ferry but less than 1/2 full since it’s low season for tourists. As we were waiting 2 other cyclists joined us. I immediately noticed their unusual rear transmission, and a rubber belt instead of a chain. Apparently they have 24 gears sealed in the hub and you add oil only once a year. A dream machine. This one has been in use for 5 years. The bikers among you will appreciate the innovation involved with this system. Ah well, maybe the next bike. . . . .

On the ship we found comfortable seats with a table in the lounge, and there was two electric outlets to charge all our gear. Sporadic WiFi was available and the 4-hour trip was relaxing and fun. A movie crew was on board and it was interesting to see their use of a small drone to fly around the outside of the ship and take some film.

Once off the ship it was a quick 1/2 hour ride to St Margarets Caravan & Camping Park, just south of Rosslare Harbour. Not a bad place, except for the snoring camper in the next tent. However they did have a little kitchen with an electric kettle, hotplate and refrigerator. We didn’t really use the kitchen but we did make use of the adjacent dining room with its electric outlets and WiFi.

Were still were not sure exactly where we should go in Ireland. Most people had told us to go west, so we started researching our options. Our friend Ken, a musician in Scotland, had told us not to miss Doolin on the West coast, a haven for traditional Irish music.

Frankly the east coast so far was a wee bit parve (neither this nor that), although it started improving during the 2nd day’s ride.

Next day we headed south-west and saw people out riding horses on the roads. I always dinged the bike bell well in advance since I knew that the sight of the tandem may well spook the horses.

In the middle of a farming area we pass the home-clinic of Mr. Eoghan Ffrench, with an incongruous sign declaring ‘Neuromuscular Therapy’. My shoulder and back were still not right so we turn into the yard and ring the doorbell, hoping for a quick ad hoc therapy session. Unfortunately Mr. French had damaged his finger and could not give me a session. Oh, it had seemed like perfect serendipity!

The architecture became more interesting as the afternoon passed although the older stone cottages did not have the character of their Welsh or Bretton counterparts. A little too plain in our humble opinions, as if they were put together purely for function without regard to the fine craft of masonry.

Some of the churches on the other hand were fine examples of the local vernacular. Old Irish churches favour towers rather than steeples, and one wonders whether this was due to the need for defence, rather than style.  We spent some time at Tintern Abbey near Wexford which is a classic Cistercian structure and has recently been partially restored.

After we left Tintern Abbey the road swept down onto a 16th Century bridge which crosses Corrock River,  a small tidal waterway. We arrived as the tide was turning and saw a reversal of flow as the stronger seaside waters overwhelmed the gentler flow of the river. Serious swirling currents resulted and I was happy not to be in the water.

Ocean Island Campground in Fethard was a bit of a step down as far as hospitality and facilities from the day before. 24 EUROS for the two of us for the night. Then they had the audacity to ask for one EURO for a shower. No Wifi, no place to wash clothes, no electricity for us and no inside tables to eat dinner.  We are getting concerned about the level of Irish campsites.

We take the harp and find the Nevelle Pub in the village. It seems like a good omen since Nevel means harp in Hebrew. The pub is empty and a bit boring. However we have our first Irish pint. I sample an ale called Wild Red, and Sunita settles for a Guinness. We bike back to the campsite in the dark. A first. Our front light is fantastic. Good to know. Our rear light isn’t working. Will have to fix that. We figured out our route to Limerick. Bike, ferry, bike and train. Geared up to head west in the morrow. 

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