Ireland day 0042. Tuesday 09 November 2021- Bike
|Today’s summary||Got the Brompton folding bike out and cycled down the coast to Bull Island. Had a quick walk up and down the east side of the island then cycled back to prep for Spanish lesson this evening|
|Today’s weather||Dry and bright with occasional sun. Slight south easterly breeze. About 13C|
|Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
(click button below to download a GPX of today’s bike ride and walk):
Bull Island cycle
I had been wondering whether I had made a tactical error in bringing my bike with me to Ireland. It’s only a folding bike, so it wasn’t taking up much storage space, but I realised that I hadn’t even looked at it in the six weeks we have been here. So I almost gave it to Val to take back with her when she went to the UK on Sunday. But now that we are car-less, I have begun to realise that it is quite a handy thing to have around.
Today I’d decided that I wanted to explore Bull Island – of which more later – and had been looking at public transport options for getting there. None of them was particularly quick or straightforward so I decided to bite the bullet and get the bike out. My destination was only about 15km / 9 mi to the south of here but it took me the best part of an hour to cycle there, as I had a bit of a headwind all the way. But quite long stretches of the route were on very good cycle paths, so it was an enjoyable ride.
Bull Island is something of a mystery. It seems to float in Dublin Bay, like the lower mandible of a pair vicious jaws – the other being the Portmarnock peninsula – that threaten to bite through the Sutton land-spit and detach Howth from the mainland. Actually its origins are a bit (but not much) more prosaic. It is the accidental creation of the seemingly ubiquitous Captain Bligh (yes him of Mutiny on the Bounty and Drogheda harbour renown). He had been commissioned to work out a way of stopping the entrance to the River Liffey from silting up and blocking the harbour entrance. He proposed that a long wall, to the north of the estuary, would prevent the silt from being deposited at the river mouth, and keep it clear for shipping.
The project seems to have been largely successful, because the river mouth is now more or less kept clear, but the consequence has been that the silt that presumably would have been deposited in the harbour has ended up being dumped behind the north wall, creating at first a sandbank, and now an island (which is still expanding). Bull Island is 5km / 3 mi long and 800m / ½mi wide and it is thought possible that it may eventually grow sufficiently connect up with the mainland at its northern end near Sutton. The island now is home to lots of rare marine plants and animals and enjoys protection under various EU and UN designations. In fact it is the only UNESCO designated biosphere reserve located in a capital city anywhere in the world.
My map showed a visitor centre on the island and I hoped there might be a café there too. But sadly it was boarded up and looked as if it might be permanently closed. Luckily I had brought a supply of chocolate biscuits with me for just such an emergency, so I locked up the bike, and headed over to the beach for a brief picnic. It’s a lovely wide, sandy beach very much like all the others we have visited down Ireland’s east coast. In fact I think it is the last in the chain of beaches that run almost unbroken all the way from Clogher Head to Dublin.
I found a suitable spot among the dunes to enjoy my snack, and watched the sanderlings pecking away on the shoreline, and the tankers and ferries busily shipping in and out of Dublin port. My reverie couldn’t last too long, however, as I had to get back to the flat in time to complete my homework in time for my next Spanish lesson. So I returned to the bike, and headed back much more quickly because of the wind on my back, and much more scenically because I took the coast road through Portmarnock.
Tonight we are going to learn about the weather. I’m pleased to report that hoy está despejado!
Today’s photos (click to enlarge)