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June 2023 Newsletter

Welcome to the sixth Three Rock Books newsletter, it’s a little late, just getting it out before the end of the month. Thanks for signing up. I hope these monthly emails will offer some interesting insights into my plans for Three Rock Books.


A wonderful route in the Slieve Aughty mountain in Clare/Galway that won’t be in the book

Since the last newsletter in mid-May I have been out on the bike a few times, taking advantage of the spell of dry weather. At this stage I have only one more route to cycle and then I will be pretty much be finished the 2nd edition of Cycling in Ireland. I’m away on the holidays for the second half of July so hopefully will have the file ready to print before I leave and will send it to the printers as soon as I’m home. If all goes to plan it will be available to purchase at the start of August.

Scarplands Cycle Trail

I had a few days up north and managed to check out five routes over three days. One of the highlights was the Scarplands Cycling Trail in Fermanagh which is the only official gravel route on the island.

However, an issue has come up that has altered my plans quite significantly.

When I was working on the first edition I really wanted to add more off-road/easy MTB/gravel routes and I had multiple discussions with Coillte to see if it would be possible to do so. I was met with enthusiasm initially, but ultimately permission wasn’t forthcoming. So I decided to omit the proposed routes.

This year the plan was to add 20 routes to the second edition, most of the 20 were going to be on gravel, on the basis that it would be easier to get forgiveness than permission. However, a recent post on Facebook relating to a newspaper article about cycling the Wicklow Way caused me to rethink this plan and after talking to a number of people close to the situation I have decided to omit the routes that cross Coillte land.
This is disappointing on a number of levels: the routes are really great, some of the best spins of any sort I have ever done; as I had put a long of energy into them it represents a waste of my time; and most importantly we have this crazy situation where we aren’t allowed cycle on these routes, yet we all do, we just can’t tell anyone about it.

The fact of the matter is that there is a bye law (Forestry Act 1988) that prohibits cycling on Coillte land outside of designated areas. Effectively gravel cycling in illegal.

So I have scraped the routes that are problematic and replaced them with others, good routes but not featuring as much gravel as I would like. Hence the new book will have 96 routes in total instead of the planned 100.

On a positive note I have talked to a number of people and met with Coillte in an effort to see if they can be convinced to allow cycling on forest roads. There are issues and it won’t be easy to change their minds but I’m confident that given some more time and effort it can be done. A major factor is that an updated version of the Occupiers Liability Act has just been passed which reduces a landowners duty of care to a recreational user.

Was passing near Lough Gill recently and couldn’t resist getting a drone shot of Bezzies Island

The Island

The current state of affairs

At the tail end of the settled spell we spent three nights on the island. The weather was muggy with a few showers and thunderstorms which interfered with the roofing work, but we got plenty done.

We we arrived the garden has become very overgrown, not that surprisingly given we hadn’t been there for 2 months and the recent weather. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the tarp we put up in April was still exactly as we left it. Over the course of the three days we get a dartboard installed, figured out the mix for lime plaster, did some whitewashing, plenty of clearing back the vegetation in the haggard, progressed the roof and even has some time for fossil hunting.

Beeves Lighthouse

One evening we took a trip on the boat over to Beeves Lighthouse, this iconic stone lighthouse sits south of the island on the edge of the Shannon’s main shipping channel. The trip over takes about 30 minutes and landing is easy at high tide. It’s an amazing building in a very impressive setting and would make a very cool Airbnb!

Thanks for Reading

If you have any thoughts, suggestions or feedback then don’t hesitate to get in touch, I would love to hear from you.