Bishopshill (84km, 992m)

Map of Bishopshill route


Categorised Climbs: Ballinascorney, McDonagh’s Lane, Bishopshill Road

A five-star route: classic climbs, quiet roads, beautiful scenery. There are very few routes in the Dublin area which pack so much into a ride you can finish before lunchtime. This is my Ardennes Week route — maybe there’s nothing here to match the Mur de Huy or La Redoute but there are punchy ramps steep enough to get your attention.

The early section following the R114 over Ballinascorney to Brittas is fairly routine, but provides a good warm-up for the ascent of McDonagh’s Lane that awaits on the far side of the N81. Follow the road around the back side of Slade Valley and along the ridge before dropping down to a crossroads. Turn left for Kilteel and Eadestown. This is the westernmost edge of the Dublin mountains — to your right only the flat expanse of the midlands. The few hills visible on the horizon are a couple of counties away.

A few kilometres after Eadestown, the road begins to rise, presaging the final categorised climb of the day, Bishopshill Road. The steep ramps on the lower reaches of the climb are more than compensated by the views of Poulaphouca reservoir and Blessington from the top. Drop down into Ballymore Eustace, and up to the N81, before making a quick loop around Tulfarris and returning to Dublin via Blessington, Manor Kilbride and Ballinascorney.

There are few hazards along the way: the descent after Slade Valley is steep and badly paved but doesn’t see much traffic so you can usually pick your way down without trouble. Best taken handy, nonetheless. You’re on the N81 for a stretch coming into Blessington but it’s flat, well-paved, and you often have a tailwind so it passes quickly.

There is scope for variation: if you want a shorter route, turn left at the T-junction at 36km (after Bishopshill) to cut straight back to Blessington. This lops nearly 20km off the route although you’re missing a lot of pleasant cycling by the reservoir. You can take a different look at the hill by continuing past Bishopshill Road and taking the next left instead — you miss some of the views but it’s a steadier climb. And if the R114 is getting you down, you can take the road up Mount Seskin to Brittas instead.

The view from Bishopshill Road: Poulaphouca reservoir with the Wicklow mountains in the background, underneath a partly blue, partly cloudy sky
Worth waiting for: Poulaphouca nestled beneath the mountains

Thoughts, hopes, exhortations?