November 04, 2016

Big Climbs for Big Views: Bikepacking Ireland and the UK

Words + Photos : Tristan Bogaard

Ever since I set foot on pedals, riding a bicycle has become my preferred form of travel. Whether cruising downhill under the sun or struggling uphill through uncompromising weather, it keeps you connected to the most basic elements of life. The people, places, and struggles you discover are a little bit more honest when experiencing the world on two wheels.

On my latest bicycle trip through the UK and Ireland, I experienced everything you can imagine. From struggle to joy. The weather was so windy, wet, and wild that it had me shivering and sweating up and down hundreds of hills. At the top of each hill, there’d be just enough time to dry up, take one of my Moment lenses out and shoot a few pictures before freezing all over again. Not the typical fancy holiday, but it sure brought me what I was looking for. And after 3000 kilometers and nine weeks, I’m finally ready to share the shots of the places I admired most.




Isle of Skye, Scotland

Whereas England and Wales really only had grey skies, green fields, and hills upon hills to offer, my view started to become interesting when I made it to Scotland. After all, Instagram’s thousands of pictures and countless travel agency’s ads promise a country of magic, lake monsters, and mountains. From a photographer’s perspective, Isle of Skye is the place you’re going to find it all. Huge climbs, hidden little towns, rushing coast on all sides, and peculiar mountain structures, such as the Quiraing. As a cyclist, getting up to this place is tough. Scotland is already famous for some of the steepest climbs in the UK (people die on them, seriously), and you’ll definitely find the one that brings you up to a view of the Quiraing a fair challenge.








West Coast, Scotland

The Isle of Skye is part of Scotland’s western coastline, which offers an unlimited number of stunning bike rides. Of course these epic rides come with the cost of tiring uphill climbs. Regardless, wherever you look, there’s breathtaking nature. Unforgettable valleys, rushing rivers, peaceful lakes, and beautiful beaches – like Achmelvich beach off the town of Lochinver – there’s really no end.







North coast, Northern Ireland

The history of Northern Ireland, its crooked cost, and overall small size make it a country worth exploring. My girlfriend flew over to Belfast to visit, and together we traveled up the northern coast, which is famous for spots like the Giant’s Causeway. Now, I don’t enjoy touristy places that much, and this sure is one, which made it a bit less appealing to me. But if you are looking for magical rock formations and natural beauty, this place is worth the tourist traffic.








Mullaghmore, Republic of Ireland

A journey along the Wild Atlantic way brings castles, cliffs and… a little piece of paradise called Mullaghmore. A friend of mine told me I could use his caravan there, and as I rested up from a long ride, the sun started to set over the beach by the campsite. I grabbed my gear and ran down the hill as the clouds turned to all kinds of colors, creating one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. It made the struggle from the day worth every ounce of energy.











Donegal

Along the Wild Atlantic Way is this hidden town called Donegal. In all my travels, it is the most spectacular place I have ever laid eyes upon. Less visited than the Cliffs of Moher, this place is home to the cliffs of Slieve League. In my experience, I usually find that the best landscapes are the ones that frighten me the most, that conquer me and dare me to stand on the edges to look over them. And boy, was this place perfect for that.












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