This is a continuation of my trip report; Part III is here.
On Day 4, we took a ferry from Doolin out to one of the incredible Aran islands off the coast, called Inis Mór (I've seen about 12 spellings of that name, that seems to be the Irish one). I've been a lot of places along both sides of the Atlantic, but this is definitely one of the most incredible I've ever seen (only Quirpon island in Newfoundland beats it in recent memory, but that had whales and icebergs).
Landing at the Inis Mór ferry terminal, and after getting our bikes uloaded, we rode through the small town and out into the country side. We saw the (literally) tons of rock walls that had come to be routine to us; the oceans were beautiful and the island is very sparsely populated. We rode up to Dún Aonghasa fort (which also seems to be spelled 12 different ways), which is simply an amazing place. It's a fort on a shear, 90m wall right on the sea. Most incredible to me, as an American, was that there is no railing whatsoever, no fence, no staff or security guard shooing people away from certain death, nothing. Here's a little video I shot sitting near the edge:
Riding back from the fort, Virginia, Charlie and I took the "high" road with very steep climbs. We started the dessent, and suddenly the road turned into something you should only ride with a full suspension mountain bike. I was out in front and took a jump a little too hard and got a pinch flat. With our support van and patch kit on the mainland (the ferry was for passengers only), this meant a two mile walk back to the port where there was a rental shop. But the views from this area were worth the flat:
We took the other ferry into Ros a' Mhíl, and then embarked on another ride with yet another dramatic shift in the landscape:
And we culminated with a ride up an incredible valley that made all the climbing worth it:
The only problem with such a long day was that we didn't have much time to spend at the incredible Cashel House in Cliffden, Ireland.
Stepping into this place literally felt like stepping into a movie, it was incredible, and the food was fantastic.