Get revved-up this weekend for bank holiday scenic spin
What better time to get out and explore all that Ireland has to offer - leave the Dublin Marathon to those who are addicted to such things - and take to the open road this bank holiday.
Carzone has put together four driving routes which are must-sees for drivers who want a scenic spin. They are all routes which I have driven and must agree with their choices.
First off is one I did a bit of this summer and have vowed to return to: The Inishowen 100, Donegal.
As the name suggests, this is a 100-mile scenic route around one of Ireland's most beautiful regions, the Inishowen Peninsula. Along the way you can visit Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head, which has breathtaking views of the Atlantic and will make you feel like you're on the edge of the world.
The Inishowen 100 starts and finishes in Burt, where you can visit the Grianan of Aileach Fort and Inch Wildfowl Reserve. Other attractions along the way include sandy beaches, ancient monuments and award-winning golf courses. I visited Inishowen in a VW Tiguan but the Mini Clubman might be more fun.The next recommendation is the Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula, Kerry, which is a spectacular scenic circular route, forming part of the Wild Atlantic Way, beginning and ending in Dingle. This trip will take you along some stunning views on the western end of the peninsula. To properly enjoy the drive, a half-day should be set aside for the journey. Along the drive, you will take in some dramatic views of South Kerry and the Blasket Islands. Carzone's recommended car for this drive is the Fiat 500. Hmmm....might be a bit small!
The third choice is a pretty regular one for me on our Sunday outing where the Wicklow mountains are home to the Sally Gap drive. The drive features some incredible landscapes, lakes and mountain scenery. The route is close to Dublin, so for those who don't want to travel far from the city, simply take the R759 east across the mountains and head north on the R115 to complete the drive.
Wicklow, known as the 'Garden of Ireland', is home to the stunning Powerscourt Waterfall, house and gardens. The sensational gardens were voted the third best gardens in the world by National Geographic. When in Wicklow, why not try a challenge? The Sugarloaf Mountain is a fun, family adventure. Climb the walkway to the top of the Sugarloaf for a sensational 360-degree view of the Dublin mountains and Dublin city. I can't fault Carzone's choice of the Mazda MX-5 for this, although it might be cramped.
The last choice is to drive through County Clare for one of Ireland's most spectacular road trips. Go along the picturesque Cliffs of Moher, which stand an incredible 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. It is a lengthy drive so be sure to make a small pit stop and explore the Burren and the Aillwee Caves.
For those with a passion for history, visit Bunratty Castle and also make a stop to learn all about the pre-Celtic settlement from 5,000 years ago at Lough Gur.
The exact location of the Cliffs of Moher is often missed and many get lost on the way. Whether you are using a satnav device or a reliable road map, note that, the Cliffs of Moher are located just to the north of Liscannor village, Co Clare. Carzone recommends the BMW X5 for this which is fairly sensible as you are going to get buffeted by the winds.
Wherever you go over the holiday, or whatever you are in, please drive safely and watch your speed.