Today’s cycle took me from Carriganore, Waterford to Whitegate in Co. Cork, a distance of approximately 140 km. It is approximate, for the fact that the battery on my Garmin gave up the ghost before I did today.
Arrived at the Data Centre to a nice surprise of all my colleagues with their bikes and dressed in special Wild Ireland Tour t-shirts to accompany me on the first leg of the tour to Fenor Bog. Mind you, one quipped that it was extraordinary the lengths that they would go to, to get out of the office for a few hours! So off we went to Fenor Bog to meet with Stan Flynn and Des Cowman to tell me about the tremendous community-led project at Fenor where they bought and manage Fenor Bog, a valuable alkaline fen nestled in behind the church. It was fitting that this was the first stop as it is an excellent example of how you would like to see nature conservation happen, embedded in the local community with advice from a scientific NGO, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council.
The first part of the cycle proper route took me along the rolling roads of the Copper Coast, to Ardmore Head. The terrain was tough, tougher than I expected; a succession of short but steep climbs out of the many coves scattered along the coast here, some of these inclines up to 12%. Not ideal terrain for trying to make up time as I felt I was running behind schedule. I certainly agree that cycling is a wonderful way to experience the unfolding landscape; you see it with your eyes and feel it in your legs. Was glad to stop at Ardmore to take a break, and to meet with Tomás Murray at this very rich heathland. The heath, heather and gorse covered headland is amazingly rich site for insects, as the dry crumbly soil provides nesting habitats and the abundance of flowers rich feeding. He told us all about the mysterious world of our social insects, and Bella was even overheard saying that she found them fascinating. (She also said that Tomás should work as a teacher as he was so good at explaining things – but I won’t tell him that, as we don’t want to lose him form the Data Centre!). Tomás needs to check identification, but he might have made an exciting discovery! The second half of the journey was far easier as the roads were better, and less undulating. Picked up the pace quite a bit, and cycled through nice quiet countryside on my route to Whitegate. This is rich farming land with little semi-natural habitat. But the rich banks and hedgerow make up for it at this time of year, a riot of diversity and colour.