Cycling Horseshoe Road, Ireland
Ride 8.1 kilometers gaining 571 meters at 7% average grade.
Tucked away in the northwestern corner of the country, this scenic beauty is the third hardest bike climb in Ireland. The climb gets its name from Gleniff Horseshoe Loop, a 10 kilometer loop on single lane mountain roads beginning about two kilometers south of Cliffony. Our climb separates from the horseshoe route at kilometer four, just after a 900 meter descent. At kilometer four turn left and hop the gate to ride to the television towers four kilometers up the hill at an average grade of 10.2%!
This magnificent Irish bike climb is the third hardest in the country.
Climb summary by PJAMM Cycling’s Brad Butterfield:
Our climb starts on a scenic farming road which traces the valley floor between two sheer mountains. Here, enjoy some mild grades. At precisely four kilometers you reach a decision point as our left turn onto the mountain summit road is gated off and clearly marked as private property. We took the risk and hopped the fence. A worker driving down the mountain gave me a friendly wave and nod when I was about halfway up the private road, so I wouldn’t worry too much about repercussions for trespassing, but don’t quote PJAMM Cycling on that. You do ride at your own risk and cannot rely on our experience in July 2022. The narrow access road provides stellar views of the lush green Irish hills and the coastline in the far distance. This was one of my favorite climbs that we rode during our time in Ireland and is most definitely worth the trek.
Gleniff Barytes Mill Site on the left about 300 meters up the climb from the start.
There are paths, waterfalls, picnic benches, and old abandoned stone structures at this location and it is definitely worth the short detour to explore here at the beginning or end of your ride.
Development and mining at and near this site dates back to 1858.
Climb summary by PJAMM Cycling’s Tayler Hocket:
Soon after beginning the climb we come to the Gleniff Barytes Mille site which has hiking and historic points that are worth spending time exploring. There are maps, picnic benches, cool old buildings, and a mill. As you roll uphill, the first 1.5 kilometers are made up of gentle rollers.
Ride through Gleniff Horseshoe Valley for the first kilometers of the climb.
At the four kilometer mark you run into a gate clearly marking the service road. It’s a hefty leap to get over that gate and not for the faint of heart, but the workers that we saw didn’t seem to mind. This road is well worth it. Steep, beautiful, and with magnificent views of the valley and coast. There is also a really cool change in topography with the top being very rocky and flat. As far as the climb itself, I’d say kilometers 4-8 are very steep, challenging, and full of sheep. Not much respite but you can see the television tower inch closer and closer as you climb.
First gate is at the fork at kilometer four (top left) and the second is 400 meters uphill from there (top right).
The gates are clearly marked as no trespassing, although 149 Strava members have made this climb as of July 2022.
Some of the views that make this a hiking and motoring favorite in this part of Ireland.
These are along kilometers 4.6 to 5.2.
Ride to the top of Truskmore Mountain on the border of Counties Sligo and Leitrim.
The top is not the best of the views, so definitely stop on the way down to take in the scenery. It is a steep downhill with lots of goats and sheep and the road surface is bumpy so don’t let the speed get out of control. The last few miles after the gate are ripping downhill with a tailwind. We were fortunate to have the weather on our side, on a clear day this would be an epic climb to do. Another climb that is well worth going out of your way for.
The climb finishes at the Truskmore Transmission site.