Author Topic: Biking, Camping and National Trust Properties  (Read 2288 times)

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September 23, 2014, 11:59:27 AM on

Offline Moorso (OP)

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 The plan was to stay in Derry overnight before heading off on Saturday morning to Florence Court in County Fermanagh. Although we had these best laid plans, we ‘faffed’ about quite a lot on Saturday morning, heading for coffee and something to eat as well as topping up the oil on Kivi’s BMW R80RT. I didn't mind though, the weather was glorious and I was truly relaxed and enjoying myself; amazing how what might get frustrating at other times becomes so small and unimportant when you are in the right frame of mind! By the time we truly hit the road it was around 13:00 and we were slightly concerned that we might have left things a bit late - I hate the feeling of being rushed on the road and would much rather take my time and take in my surroundings especially given that Fermanagh is a place that I have never been to on a bike and this was something I had been looking forward to for quite some time – but the advantage of such a small province is that you can drive to places quite quickly. We took the A5 south towards Sion Mills, Newtownstewart and Omagh. The road is a large single lane carriageway and immediately outside of Derry, somewhat uneventful. Although it is something of a means to an end as it enabled us to eat up the miles quite quickly without feeling that we were missing out by not taking in views or stops etc.

The Road South
Sion Mills is probably an Anglicisation of the Irish Sidheán (also spelt Síodhán and Sián) meaning ‘fairy mound’. The second part of the name is simply the English ‘mill’. Basically the whole village is a conservation area; the settlement was laid out as a model linen village by the Herdman brothers (James, John and George). In 1835 they converted an old flour mill on the River Mourne into a flax spinning mill and erected a bigger mill behind it in the 1850s. However, nearly everything in Sion Mills today was designed slightly later in the 1880s and 1890s by James Herdman's son-in-law, the English architect William Frederick Unsworth. Although there are some beautiful buildings you are through the village in the blink of an eye and don’t appreciate what there is to see.

Once through Omagh – which was quite busy and in the heat and traffic my bike gear stuck to me – we took the A32 towards Irvinestown. The A32 is less busy, narrower and more enjoyable for it the bends are longer and have more of a flow. Out of a small woodland a large bird of prey flew alongside the bikes for about 10 seconds, quite surreal, and something that has happened to me more than once. Each time it is quite magical and I never lose my awe at the sight.

The road to Enniskillen has Lower Lough Erne on your right. Enniskillen is, basically, a town built on an island protruding into the lough. Indeed the place name comes from Inis Ceithlinn meaning Ceithleann / Ceithlenn’s island. This refers to Ceithlenn (who was the wife of Balor of the Fomorians and, by him, the mother of Ethniu in the Irish sagas), she was also a prophetess and warned Balor of his impending defeat by the Tuatha Dé Danann in the second battle of Magh Tuiredh. It has been said that Ceithlenn got wounded in battle by an arrow and attempted to swim across the river but she never reached the other side. The town's oldest building is the Maguire's stone castle, built by Hugh the Hospitable who died in 1428. An earthwork on the lough shore may be the remains of an earlier motte. From Enniskillen we took the Swanlinbar Road (A32) south to the National Trust property at Florence Court.



Florence Court and Gosford
Florence Court is set in beautiful woodlands and the driveway is in that fine 18th century tradition of a long and sweeping journey through the grounds obviously built to impress you. The main structure has a grand and ornate central ‘core’ with stretching pavilions on either side. The first house on the site was built by John Cole (1680-1726) and named after his wife Florence Bourchier Wrey. Of the building you can see and tour today, the central block was built first and various dates from 1730 to 1764 are proffered for its construction; an estate map of 1768 shows the central block, standing alone. The colonnades and pavilion ‘wings’ added to each side were later and built in approximately 1771. We took the house tour after relaxing and wandering around the former stables now housing the shops and visitor centre.

After some debate, we decided to camp in Gosford Forest Park. The route towards it was via Armagh so we took the A4 through the small towns (Clogher, Augher et al) towards Armagh. The sun was on our backs now as we travelled east, it illuminated the tree lined roads and the change in foliage colour was noticeable – the leaves have all started to turn deep reds and oranges as autumn approaches. There was a synesthesia-esque distinct golden ‘glow’ on the road. The route got even better when we turned south onto the A28. The road narrowed and became more remote and rural in type, the bends were frequent and sweeping with the bike cranked over, I loved it! There was a stretch of road that had hills in the distance and with the sun, heat and views I could have sworn I was in France somewhere (this sensation would return when we took this road the following morning back to Enniskillen). It has been a while since I have been in Armagh and I had completely forgotten how beautiful a city it is – they have cleverly up-lit the old buildings and in what felt like a summer night, it had a distinctly European vibe to it. Indeed, the next morning as we sat in a mini square and had breakfast that European feel was strengthened.

Castle Coole
After a hearty breakfast, we took the same road back to Enniskillen to Castle Coole. The fact that it was relatively early on a Sunday morning just meant that there were even fewer vehicles on it and we, shall we say, stretched the bikes’ legs. The estate itself is again seemingly in the finest 18th century country house tradition. However, the name is derived from Cúil meaning ‘seclusion’ and a rath and crannog on the estate are proof that settlement here predates, by some time, the more modern house.

The Castle Coole estate was purchased in 1656 by the Belfast merchant John Corry, grandfather of the first Earl. The house constructed between 1789 and 1798 and was only ever meant as a summer house! The current Earl still lives in the house and the tour avoids the private wing where he lives. The grounds are woodland, rather than formal gardens, but you can take the walks along the ‘Beech Walk’ in which the ice house is hidden away. It was at Castle Coole that the recent film with Colin Farrell (Miss Julie) was filmed in 2013. After the tour we sat in the quaint café situated off the stables (where American soldiers were stationed during WWII). We talked bikes and potential tours in the future; initial suggestions have been made for heading to Europe for big milestone birthdays that coincide – therefore hopefully not raising too many objections! Even the bikes we would like to take was discussed with Kivi mooting a custom BMW (tentatively named the R100RGST!). A potential route and timetable were aslo discussed with the journey taking in France, Spain, northern Italy, Germany and The Netherlands....exciting stuff although I may start saving now!!

Our route home took in Donegal - which might have been an unwise decision given that they were playing in the All-Ireland final that day. The roads were busier than normal and one guy was inches from my rear tyre through the Barnesmore Gap (in the Bluestack Mountains). But we arrived in Derry safely before I took the main road back to Belfast as night fell. In the darkness I found I flowed with the bike, even the temperature
Author of 'Valhalla and the Fjord'
Currently editing my second book: 'Hibernia - Journals from a Motorcycle'

Columnist for Motorcycle Explorer Magazine and Ulster Grand Prix

Even as a grown man, I still don't know what I want to do - trying to become Ted Simon!!

2013 Triumph Explorer

September 23, 2014, 02:42:49 PMReply #1 on

Offline KuzzinKenny

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Hey Moorso !! another great RR and history lesson from ya  :icon_eek: :icon_lol:

you could start a business, see Ireland by Bike  :thumbsup

KK

ps i got the Gobi 111  :nod
In Scotland, there`s no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes !! Billy Connolly
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Lucifer Orange 05 (2004) Purrrrrrfect !!

September 23, 2014, 03:37:40 PMReply #2 on

Offline Moorso (OP)

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Hi Kenny

Thanks!  :icon_biggrin:
I was formerly an archaeologist! Ha ha...so history is my thing.

I have written a book (called Valhalla and the Fjord) about biking around Strangford Lough and all the stuff to see but I can't get it published!! Mainly because publishers are only really publishing established authors given the pressure they are under, especially from Kindle and the like.

I'd love to start that business....it'd be right up my street!  :icon_cool:

I loved the Slumit tent....my mates' face as I had my tent up before he had even faffed about with his poles was hilarious. I then watched and laughed as the midgies flew round him.
Author of 'Valhalla and the Fjord'
Currently editing my second book: 'Hibernia - Journals from a Motorcycle'

Columnist for Motorcycle Explorer Magazine and Ulster Grand Prix

Even as a grown man, I still don't know what I want to do - trying to become Ted Simon!!

2013 Triumph Explorer

September 24, 2014, 12:56:58 AMReply #3 on

Offline KuzzinKenny

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Hey Moorso !! now i understand how you know so much detail about the area where you ride  :icon_cool:

so which Slumit did ya get ??

KK
In Scotland, there`s no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes !! Billy Connolly
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Lucifer Orange 05 (2004) Purrrrrrfect !!

September 24, 2014, 08:28:56 AMReply #4 on

Offline Moorso (OP)

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Ha ha...yep....as an undergraduate I partied :friday.....as a postgraduate I read!  :icon_study:

I bought the Cub II. I weighed up both options, and (as you suggested) laid their measurements out on the floor. As I mostly head away with friends, I went for the two man. I had to sleep slightly diagonally, but fit with my gear no problem at all, so well chuffed.
Author of 'Valhalla and the Fjord'
Currently editing my second book: 'Hibernia - Journals from a Motorcycle'

Columnist for Motorcycle Explorer Magazine and Ulster Grand Prix

Even as a grown man, I still don't know what I want to do - trying to become Ted Simon!!

2013 Triumph Explorer

September 24, 2014, 10:56:13 AMReply #5 on

Offline John Stenhouse

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Publish it to kindle and let us know, I would buy it.
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Orange 955i Tiger Canadian based
Norton 961S never got it, tired of waiting

September 24, 2014, 12:17:21 PMReply #6 on

Offline Moorso (OP)

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Thanks John....that's actually made my day!!  :icon_mrgreen:
I have been looking at online (and Kindle) publication, it costs about a grand though....so will ahve to save up. But am determined to get it out there one way or another!!
Author of 'Valhalla and the Fjord'
Currently editing my second book: 'Hibernia - Journals from a Motorcycle'

Columnist for Motorcycle Explorer Magazine and Ulster Grand Prix

Even as a grown man, I still don't know what I want to do - trying to become Ted Simon!!

2013 Triumph Explorer

September 24, 2014, 05:54:08 PMReply #7 on

Offline Sin_Tiger

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There's a lot more options now, including crowd funding. I don't really get that people want to read about adventures in far away places when much of the time they aren't aware of what's outside the back door, Best of luck.
I used to have long hair, took acid and went to hip joints. Now I long for hair, take antacid and need a new hip joint

September 26, 2014, 07:58:23 AMReply #8 on

Offline Moorso (OP)

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John  / Sin

Thank you for your support.
I investigated the Kindle / Amazon option and it's free.....so going to publish it there.
I'll let you know when it's published  :thumbsup
Author of 'Valhalla and the Fjord'
Currently editing my second book: 'Hibernia - Journals from a Motorcycle'

Columnist for Motorcycle Explorer Magazine and Ulster Grand Prix

Even as a grown man, I still don't know what I want to do - trying to become Ted Simon!!

2013 Triumph Explorer

September 26, 2014, 09:51:16 AMReply #9 on

Offline TT

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Cracking ride report, this is one of the reasons for buying a Tiger, to load up and set off exploring. Hopefully get to know some of you on here and join in on a road trip. I do have how ever one slight negative concern of the report, a distinct lack of description of local ale and single malt.

September 26, 2014, 12:21:35 PMReply #10 on

Offline Moorso (OP)

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Quote
a distinct lack of description of local ale and single malt.

 :eusa_clap  :ImaPoser

Touché good sir!!
I have to be honest though, as we had to ride the bikes in to get something to eat on the Saturday, there wasn't any drink taken  :icon_sad: but can safely confirm that the whiskeys available in O'Toole's pub are tremendous (seconded only by The Duke of York in Belfast....famous for it's hugh collection of whiskeys including a 50 year old single malt that'll sting your wallet!! pics below).

But as Sin said.....there is so much to see and explore in the British Isles.
It is something I love about the Tiger....put the panniers on, strap a tent to the back and just.... :wheel
Author of 'Valhalla and the Fjord'
Currently editing my second book: 'Hibernia - Journals from a Motorcycle'

Columnist for Motorcycle Explorer Magazine and Ulster Grand Prix

Even as a grown man, I still don't know what I want to do - trying to become Ted Simon!!

2013 Triumph Explorer