I am back from the holiday circling the Isle of Man. It was a scary at first but a incredible journey. Its these type of things which really challenge you and makes you realize you can do so much more.
There is a lot to this journey which I’ll add more to once I sort out pictures, videos, etc. But generally I wanted to start the blog and see what I can add later (any suggestions are welcomed)
To answer my own points…
- Its right at that place where I’m slightly scared and excited at the same time. Its been a while
it was amazing and although quite scary at points, its made me want to do more traveling by scooter. There were moments when you remember the corners have no barrier especially on the causeway coastal route down from the Causeway to Belfast. Amazing path but also needs to be treated with caution.
In the end I got off the causeway coastal route at Larne only because it was getting dark and actually cold. The path is amazing full of spots to stop and even sit on the beach. With more time I would likely have stopped but the time was moving towards darkness and I certainly didn’t fancy the causeway coastal route in the darkness.
Going back on myself at Newcastle to ride through the Mourne Mountains was incredible, so quiet and I did consider doing the whole loop around.
I did go to the giant causeway but it was fully booked, I really should have booked it soon as I knew but I’ll be back
- I get to visit a new country
I have never been to Northern Ireland and always wanted to check it out. Although its part of the UK, its quite different and I found Belfast very different from other cities in the UK. Those motorways felt like something out of Ridge Racer. I will have to go back without the scooter to check out the scene within the city including the many museums.
I did get to Derry and saw some of the incredible wall art but didn’t get a chance to snap any while riding, I generally turn my GoPro off while in most built up areas. I certainly like to do a tour of the wall art next time.
- I get to drive in Europe at long last
Ok yes Ireland is left hand drive, but technically I did drive in Europe and kind of forgot to take a picture of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland (which if you have been paying attention doesn’t exist for good reason) but I was expecting something saying you have crossed over. On this note I did take my passport and driving license but never once showed it or was asked for it.
- I do it all without flying, although I do wonder if the scooter’s overall carbon footprint is so great or not
I could work it all out but haven’t tried yet. In total I did 826.4 miles from home to home over 5 days, stopped for fuel 9 times but sometimes to just to top up the tank just in-case. In total I spent about 60 pounds on fuel but the price varied a lot between countries and where I was (motorway vs city)
Here is the full details, after the fold…
Monday 30th Aug – Manchester to Carlisle (137 miles by motorcycle)
Long motorway drive up to Carlisle to stay with my good friend Kate. Stay over night and see the new member to the family.
Tuesday 31st Aug – Carlisle to Belfast (131 miles by motorcycle and 70miles by ferry)
Drive up into Scotland, then drive along the A road to Stranraer/Cairnryan. I dropped in on a work colleague Paul Coulton for a coffee and some lovely freshly laid eggs.
On leaving I turned the wrong way and went a very long way out the way to find the Tesco. As you can see in the map above. I ended up getting to the Ferry port 15mins late, the ferry was still there but boarding started 45 mins earlier and they were not letting me on with my scooter. So I spend some time in Stranraer having a early dinner and was number one in the queue for the last ferry 3 hours later.
The Ferry was actually the first time I had used the motion/travel sickness pills and it worked well enough to do some editing of my book on my chromebook. Stenaline ferry also had free wifi throughout and lots of power ports.
Once in Belfast I headed to the hotel but found the motorways quite amazing in the night. Felt like something out of Ridge Racer. The Ibis hotel was good for what I needed (sleep) but they nicely let me park my scooter right outside (although I did add 3 locks to the alarm and lo-jack just in-case)
Wednesday 1st Sept – Belfast to Derry to Belfast (240 miles by motorcycle)
This was a big day, I originally drove to the giant causeway but needed to book ahead and decided to drive along the coast stopping at Dunseverick’s castle. Then I drove to Derry. It wasn’t a long drive and although I wanted to check it out properly as I could see the incredible political artwork, I made a decision to focus on riding around. So after a stop for food, decided to drive the Causeway coastal route down the east side of Northern Ireland.
What followed was amazing ride in the afternoon sun into the early evening. Scary and incredible roads. There is no way I would have done it in rain or poor weather but I had to stop at Laine because the sun had gone down. So got back to Belfast via the Motorway.
Once back in Belfast I went looking for a restaurant on foot, and then on returning from the Italian. I ended up helping the bar tender to make cocktails. That was good fun and ended a great day.
Thursday 2nd Sept – Belfast to Dublin (151 miles by motorcycle)
After a long well rested sleep and getting up early enough to actually have a cooked breakfast. I checked out and decided there is no way I could drive down the A1/M1. So headed towards to the east coast again. I noticed a place called Newcastle and went looking for petrol and a short stop.
This is when I clearly saw the mournes mountains and noticed there was a path through them. So turned back and headed through the mountains. Not certain what the path would be like or if the micro climate would be massively different but just went for it.
What I found was a incredible place which was so quiet and outstanding beauty. After that amazing ride I thought I’d try for the short ferry and maybe follow the coast again.
I again missed a ferry, this time the ferry at Greencastle on the east coast of Ireland. The timetable is set but I didn’t really look into this and just turned up. Knowing it was going to be another 40mins, I decided to just drive it because I could cover that ground much quicker on the scooter. I was about right especially because I didn’t need to go to Whites town or Ballynamoney, etc.
Dublin was Dublin, busy but I worked it out. I have been many times before but never by road. The hotel I stayed at was nice and I fully grasped where Ireland was with regards to Covid19, when I tried to enter the bar after my meal.
Friday 3rd Sept – Dublin to Belfast (196 miles by motorcycle and 66miles by ferry)
Of course I was nice and early for the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead. No way I could miss my third ferry!
Irish ferries had awful wifi with only 20mins free time. As I didn’t have my I Linux laptop, I didn’t do the trick with changing the MAC address, but got down to more editing having taken the sea sickness pills. Coming out in Wales was good but quite a tiresome ride because of the traffic going into Manchester.
I racked up a total of 826.4 miles according to the bike (which is close to the Google maps estimation of 855miles – I used the Googlemaps autofix to the road feature).
It was a incredible adventure traveling through the common travel area in the pandemic. I didn’t really check what the restrictions were in each country but Northern Ireland felt pretty close to England and Scotland but Ireland certainly was quite different. For Fuel I spent about £85 in total over the whole trip, which seems about right as sometimes I wasn’t riding economically, especially when trying to catch a ferry.
I’ll be honest and say this trip was amazing and my plans to do similar in the Netherlands and Belgium are top of mind for next year.