Northern Ireland - Route advice please

We are planning to visit my daughter in NI (South Belfast) next month and the SWMBO has agreed to let me take the bike. :becool:

We are only visiting for 4 days and I have a one day pass. I have looked over the Cycle NI website and fancy either

The Loughshore Trail Route 94 NCN around Lough Neagh

or

The circuit around Strangford Lough.

If anyone knows either of the routes I would appreciate your views on which is the more interesting option for a long day in the saddle.
Thanks in advance
Andy
 

Telemark

Cycling is fun ...
Location
Edinburgh
no advice i am afraid, apart from: have a great time!;)
(have never been to NI yet, but have heard it's a great place for cycling, it's on my list of places to go :becool:)

It doesn't clash with the CC Ecosse ride, does it? :smile:;)

T
 
Don't know about Strangford. I'm presuming the Lough Neagh route is fairly similar to the lap the lough route.. not overly impressed with it - its flat and while thats a good thing.. views tend to be best from vantage points. Don't know your level of fitness and whether you have access to a car but if I had I'd either head South into the Mournes or North into the Antrim Glens. Generally once you're off the main roads in Ireland then its pretty quiet for cycling.
 
OP
ACS

ACS

Guru
Telemark said:
no advice i am afraid, apart from: have a great time!;)
(have never been to NI yet, but have heard it's a great place for cycling, it's on my list of places to go :becool:)

It doesn't clash with the CC Ecosse ride, does it? :smile:;)

T
No this is a bonus day. I think they just want rid of me so they can go in to the city and traumatise my credit card.:blush:
 
OP
ACS

ACS

Guru
meenaghman said:
Don't know about Strangford. I'm presuming the Lough Neagh route is fairly similar to the lap the lough route.. not overly impressed with it - its flat and while thats a good thing.. views tend to be best from vantage points. Don't know your level of fitness and whether you have access to a car but if I had I'd either head South into the Mournes or North into the Antrim Glens. Generally once you're off the main roads in Ireland then its pretty quiet for cycling.
Meenaghman

Thank you. Fitness levels are not to bad, can ride 100 km with comfort and I'm trying to get in some quality saddle time for a 200 km audax in the highlands of Scotland in August. This is my first time cycling in NI and thought I would err on the side of caution for my first jaunt and choose a pre planned and sign posted route.

The flat route around Lough Neagh is tempting distance wise but for some reason the Strangford route sounds more appealing.
 

TrevorM

New Member
Location
Belfast
I live close to Strangford. Both routes are similar cycling - flat or small rolling hills. The scenery and things to see around Strangford are much better in my opinion. Strangford Lough is a Nature Reserve and there are a few National Trust properties worth a visit (Mount Stewart and Castleward). There is a Wildfowl and Wetland Trust centre at Castlespie. Pity you only have 1 day. The east side of the route (I cycled it yesterday for the first time) is disappointing. The route goes inland down most of the peninsula and so you miss the nice scenery of both the Irish Sea coast and the Strangford Lough coast. But if you like fields, hedges and cows its great. Personally I would just follow the A20 south from Newtownards as it follows the Strangford shoreline. Then at Kirkubbin go east to join the route again at Ballyhalbert. On the west side it is worth taking the detour to visit Nendrum monastic sight and by far the best place for lunch is Balloo House. All these places are marked on the cycle NI map I think.
If you are looking for more spectacular scenery/hard riding then I agree with the previous poster - Mournes or Antrim Coast.
 
I have ridden both - Lough Neagh 3 times and in and around Stranford Lough more times than my legs care to remember!

As meenaghman said above, the Lough Neagh route is very flat and there is not a lot to look at - plus you have to get there from Belfast, note that Sunday service on trains in Northern Ireland may be a little sparse, depending on what you are used to!

The Strangford lough route would definitely be my choice of the two. If you are intending to join the route from South Belfast, you might like to start with the Comber Greenway, which will get you out of Belfast by avoiding the main roads and joins up .

The west side of the lough is quite rolling, the ferry across from Strangford to Portaferry costs £1.10 for you and the bike and the east side is flatter but windier as you hit the shore and head north-west! Most road clubs stop for cake in Greyabbey - either the Hoops or the cafe directly across the road. You can't miss either of them!

The road surfaces are not always perfect, but I have never had any problem with 23mm road tyres. If you are going mid-week, you probably see a few oldies about, but Saturday and Sunday mornings sees a fair few club runs and training rides in and around the area.

Whatever route you choose, have a great time. Once you are out of Belfast traffic is relatively light over here and the residents of the Stranford Lough area and the Ards penisula generally are very well used to cyclists on the roads. The routes keep you off the main roads mostly, but even then (outside obviousl rush hour traffic), the roads are not busy by Great Britain standards.
 
The Jogger said:
I'm over there on Sunday, looking forward to a good walk up the Mournes and a bit of a jog along the Lagan.
It's Belfast Marathon Day on May Day Monday, if you are still about Belfast - you might find the Lagan a bit lonely, runner-wise on Sunday as everyone rests their legs - it has been hectic this past month!
 

jimheaney57

New Member
Location
Belfast
dmoan said:
It's Belfast Marathon Day on May Day Monday, if you are still about Belfast - you might find the Lagan a bit lonely, runner-wise on Sunday as everyone rests their legs - it has been hectic this past month!
Been up and down that path too many times to count, particularly in the last few weeks getting ready for the marathon.

I used to cycle on it a lot too, but since I went clipless I've stayed away as there are too many dogs, kids & runners listening to music and not paying attention.
 
jimheaney57 said:
Been up and down that path too many times to count, particularly in the last few weeks getting ready for the marathon.

I used to cycle on it a lot too, but since I went clipless I've stayed away as there are too many dogs, kids & runners listening to music and not paying attention.
OT - Exactly the same here - a road bike is just too fast for the Towpath - even at pootling speed! Have had a few nice long runs down and back though - makes a nice change from the Comber Greenway! Some kind soul has marked out every mile, so I found it useful to measure my marathon pace (the Greenway is marked in Kilometres - after 15 miles, I can't do the maths to convert back to miles anymore!)
 
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