Belfast to Ballyshannon
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Nothing beats the sense of achievement or satisfaction of cycling a coast to coast route.
Saddle up and push off from Whiteabbey village just North of Belfast and travel up Belfast Lough, birthplace of The Titanic, almost 100 years ago. Belfast has undergone an amazing transformation over the past decade and you get the opportunity to follow the River Lagan through the heart of this revitalised city. Leafy towpaths take you on toward Lisburn where winding country roads lead you to Oxford Island on the shores of the mammoth Lough Neagh.
From here, skirt along the-traffic free Newry Canal making your way to Armagh, Ireland's ancient capital and a city synonymous with Saint Patrick. From the idyllic cricket pitch on the Mall take a detour to both cathedrals and immerse yourself in centuries of history and opulent architecture.
From Armagh the route follows a section of the Ulster Canal as far as Benburb and some great cycling roads pass Donaghmore's 10th Century high cross toward the foothills of the Sperrins. You'll certainly have your work cut out as you make your way west from Cookstown through the mountains towards Gortin, however, the scenery provides ample reward.
From Omagh the landscape takes another dramatic twist as you pass through small country towns and villages into the magical Fermanagh lakelands. From Ballinamallard take the North West trail signs through the island town of Enniskillen towards the Marble Arch Caves. Pick up the scent of the Atlantic Sea just beyond Blacklion on the way to Ballyshannon, where a small loop of the Kingfisher Trail guides you down to Rossnowlagh beach where you can finally kick off your shoes and cool your feet in the Atlantic.
Public roads: On Public Road
Getting to the start:
Follow the Lagan and Lough Cycle Way to reach Jordanstown by biycle.
By car: Take M5 out of Belfast towards Carrickfergus.
By Bus: www.translink.co.uk
Traffic: Route follows minor roads with traffic-free sections. Busy through major towns.