|The Emerald Trail - Irish Bicycle Tours|
15 Ballyknockan Road, Saintfield, Co. Down, Ireland
The two essential elements of the very best cycle touring routes are great scenery and traffic-free roads. The Emerald Trail has linked together the scenic highlights, the visitor attractions and the accommodations using the quietest and most scenic country lanes and backroads where the occasional passing car provides the opportunity for a friendly exchange of greetings between fellow travellers.
To allow for as much flexibility as possible, each day’s cycling is made up of the core route which is intended for everyone, and the extensions which are aimed at the more experienced and/or ambitious cyclists.
The core route is typically around 25 miles, a distance that affords an exhilarating day’s cycling while still allowing for plenty of stops. For the most part, the terrain on the core routes is moderate (flat to gently rolling) with some intermediate (gently rolling to undulating) stretches. These routes are designed to be comfortable for even the most relaxed of cyclists. Of course, there is no compulsion to cycle all (or even any!) of the core route on a particular day. The support vehicle will never be far away and taking a lift is always a readily available option.
The average extension length is around 20 miles, and on most days there will be two of these. The terrain on the extensions may be moderate, intermediate or challenging (undulating to hilly)! Taken together, the core and extensions will provide a rewarding day’s cycling for the most ardent enthusiast.
A day on The Emerald Trail
Breakfast is the first major event of the day, during the course of which you will get your map and directions and be treated to a short briefing to outline the day’s route. You will then be able to plan a provisional programme for the day to include the attractions you might like to visit and any extensions that you might care to tackle. Departure time is entirely up to you!
Once you have put a few miles behind you, the mouth-watering aromas emanating from wayside village bakery shops may well entice you in for a coffee and a couple of freshly baked scones. Fortunately, guilt is an emotion rarely experienced on a cycling vacation!
During the course of the morning you will see the support van periodically, so you can double check route details, fill up your water bottle or beg a handful of chocolate-coated raisins. You might want to round off the morning by exploring a Norman castle or an enigmatic Bronze Age stone circle – there is sure to be one in the vicinity!
Lunch could take the form of bread (Ireland is renowned for the great variety of delicious breads on offer), cheese and a banana at a lakeside picnic site, a sandwich and a glass of Guinness in a homely country pub or the chef’s special at the local café. You might even decide to skip it altogether if you succumbed to the temptation of the Irish breakfast earlier in the day!
Back on the road, and the afternoon’s cycling will invariably be punctuated by frequent stops to drink in the scenery, to take photographs and to engage local farmers in discussions about the weather and about their relatives living in far flung parts of the world. You could wander through the magnificent gardens of a stately home, or take a boat trip on a lake to view an island monastery. On the other hand, if you are feeling energetic, you might consider cycling one of the day’s extension routes.
Arrival time at the accommodation is generally late afternoon, leaving plenty of time before dinner to shower, relax over a drink or explore your surroundings.
Dinner is usually very leisurely, often results in over-indulgence and is always the catalyst for some wonderfully spontaneous entertainment. This is where you will come to understand the true meaning of the Irish term “craic.”
Depending upon the location, there may be a traditional music session in a nearby pub for those who still have some energy to burn. For others, a leisurely stroll along a moonlit beach and a nightcap in the hotel lounge will provide the perfect ending to the day.
Whatever else you expect from your day on The Emerald Trail, expect to enjoy yourself to the full and you won’t be disappointed!
Tours are suitable for solo travellers, couples and groups of all ages. Families with young children should contact us - we reserve certain tours which cater particularly for these.
Accommodation is in 3* and 4* hotels and country houses. Many of these are in stunning locations with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside.
Evening meals are 4 course banquets with plenty of variety to cater for all tastes and dietary requirements. A sumptuous Irish breakfast will provide a great start to each day.
2000 Tour Prices – All prices are in Sterling Pounds
One week tour £795
Two week tour £1545
Three week tour £2295
Four week tour £3045
Single supplement £15 per day
Bicycle and equipment hire £50 per week
Travel insurance - optional
(1 week) £15
(2 weeks) £25
(3 weeks) £35
(4 weeks) £45
For reservations or further information, contact us at:
The Emerald Trail
Tel:(from North America)
011 44 2890 813200
Fax: (from North America)
011 44 2890 813310