Thomastown – Mount Leinster – Dublin Cycle Directions
0 to 10km
Go down the hill from the train station and turn left to go down to Thomastown. Pass the church on your left and then turn right. At the end of the road turn left on The Quay. It is signed New Ross.
Just outside the town the road takes a sharp right. Take the left here on the R703, signed Graiguenamanagh.
This road climbs slowly uphill [5km marker] for several kilometres. At the top there is a staggered crossroads (the first on the climb), with a right turn next to a house on the roadside, and a left turn beside a stone house opposite it. Take the left turn, then immediately go right.
10 – 20km
The road climbs up a little further, offering fantastic views. On the descent you join another road so keep left. Then take the first right, going down a narrow road [15km marker].
You pass through two crossroads and continue straight. Soon you reach a wide t-junction. Turn left. Then take the first right, uphill by a high stone wall. After a short rise you descend again.
20 – 30km
Take the first left and then go left again when you join the R705. You cross a river, enter County Carlow and climb a hill. At the top, turn right on the R702 and ride into Borris.
Mount Leinster looms up ahead. After going down the hill on Main Street, turn left at the bottom, where there is a viaduct ahead.
This is it – the beast. It starts with a fairly flat 5km. Pass under the viaduct and stay [25km marker] on the main road, ignoring numerous turnoffs.
30 – 40km
After 6.0km, where the road turns right and there is a low stone wall on your left at the junction, there is a left turn with a sign for the TV transmitter and Nine Stones.
Take the left turn. Keep left and the road climbs steeply. Turn right at the crossroads after this initial rise.
Stay on this road and it climbs to the shoulder of Mount Leinster in 3.7km and is quite steep in parts. At the carpark [35km marker] at the top there are some fantastic views over Leinster.
The road to the top is behind a gate to your right. From here to the top is an ordeal. The surface is poor in parts, so you may have to switch lanes a few times.
Be careful of the road surface and walkers that may be on the road on your descent. It is a popular walk for families. Once you come back down, turn right and continue the way you were going.
40 – 50km
The next section has lovely views to the north. Once you reach a t-junction, take a left up a short rise. Go over the top and descend the narrow road on the other side [45km marker].
At the t-junction at the bottom turn right. Follow this road around a sharp left turn down a steep hill until you reach a t-junction.
Turn right and ride the 2.1km into Myshall. You pass a church on the way in.
At the main crossroads in the village, the Memorial Church is 100m up the right turn. Otherwise continue straight on.
Going straight takes you on to the R574.
50 – 60km
After 2.2km the road bends right. Take the left turn signed for Altamont Gardens. Stay on this road for 3.6km and you [55km marker] will reach the N80.
Go through the crossroads here. Soon you reach Altamont. There are two entrances, the first for buses, the second for cars.
Leave Altamont and turn right to continue north. Keep right at the first fork to stay on the main road. At the next crossroads, turn right.
60 – 70km
Soon you will cross a bridge. Take the first left turn at a wide junction. Go left at the first t-junction you reach and then take the first right turn. Here you enter County Wicklow.
Continue straight and when the road curves left there is a long driveway on your right. Go past this and take [65km marker] the right turn 100m after, with a house opposite it.
When you reach a t-junction facing a long driveway, keep left and left again at the junction after that.
You reach the R725, where you turn right.
70 – 80km
Go left at the crossroads soon after. Turn right immediately and soon after that take the first left turn.
Follow this road up and down for the next 5.1km as you return to County Carlow [75km marker].
Go through a crossroads and turn left at the t-junction you reach and follow this road up another hill.
80 – 90km
Stay on this road until you reach Hacketstown.
Turn right at the t-junction when you reach Hacketstown and the road reaches Main Street at a church. Turn left here and then right down a narrow lane. You soon leave town.
Stay on this road [85km marker] all the way to Knockananna, with its 6-road junction. Take either of the two left turns, signed Aghavannagh – they rejoin each other a little way up the road.
You pass through a crossroads.
90 – 100km
You turn right at the next crossroads soon after, by a small house. You continue cycling towards the mountains ahead. Turn right when you reach the t-junction with the main road.
Climb the hill and ride the steep descent [95km marker] into Aghavannagh. The village is only a few houses. Ignore the right turn in the village and keep left up the hill, following the sign for Glenmalure.
You begin the Slieve Maan climb. The first section is steep before easing off. It’s one of the quietest climbs in the Wicklow Mountains.
100 – 110km
The descent to Glenmalure is steep. You go through a crossroads at the bottom and begin the climb of Glenmalure [105km marker].
Glenmalure Pass is steep and unforgiving, but not too long. There is a small stone memorial to the famous Irish cyclist Shay Elliott near the top, on the right side of the road.
The pass is affectionately called ‘The Shay Elliott’ among Irish cyclists.
110 – 120km
At the end of the descent you join the R755. Turn left and cycle the 1km into Laragh.
When you reach the t-junction at Laragh, turn left for Glendalough [115km marker]. The actual entrance to Glendalough is 1.6km down this road, on the left. It is not far to go in. Otherwise take the right turn there signed Wicklow Gap. The climb to the saddle of Wicklow Gap is 6.5km with a reasonably even gradient.
120 – 130km
The turnoff for the upper reservoir is on the left at the top, just after the carpark. Continue uphill on it. Return the same way [125km marker].
Continue the way you were going from Wicklow Gap, descending on the east side.
130 – 140km
Keep going downhill [135km marker]. Take the first right turn, after 5.6km. This brings you up a steep rise. Go straight down the other side.
140 – 150km
Turn right at the t-junction at the bottom and immediately take the first right turn (before you reach the lake) for Ballyknockan and Lake Drive. This goes down a hill and over a small bridge.This road goes up and down [145km marker] over the next 7.6km to Temple Boden.
When there you go up a short steep hill and there is a right turn among several houses and a high stone wall on your right. Take this right turn.
150 – 160km
This narrow road takes you up over Sorrell Hill, with amazing views of the lakes. Sorrell Hil is a 200m climb over 3.5km, reaching 440m in height. After descending the other side [155km marker] turn left at the first t-junction.
At the next, take a sharp right. Cross a bridge and the road rises to a t-junction with the R759. Turn right here and begin the climb to Sally Gap – a 245m rise over 8.9km, an enjoyable ride that kicks up steeply at the very end.
160 – 170km
Keep climbing [165km marker]. Turn left at the crossroads at the top of the hill – Sally Gap.
170 – 180km
After a few kilometres, you will see the entrance to Kippure on your left. Climb over the gate and start on Kippure access road. The first 2km is reasonably easy, but it gets harder.
The relentless steepness, narrowness of the climb, poor surface (still easily rideable on a road bike, but you will have some potholes to avoid) and exposure to the wind all work against you. Getting to the top will be a great feeling [175km marker].
Return the way you came, taking care with walkers on the descent. Turn left at the main road. There is a steep descent past Lough Bray.
180 – 190km
At the bottom of the hill ignore the right turn for Glencree before climbing again to the Featherbeds [185km marker]. After the top of the Featherbeds, stay on the main road and descend through a wood.
Past this there is a car park at a sharp left turn. Turn right here and take Cruagh Road.