Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Strawberry Beds forever.

Wherever you live, as a cyclist you'll have your own default routes, easy routes you can do straight from your front door without too much thinking.
Heading down Strawberry Beds is mine.

I've had the snotz all week, eyes dead in head, coughing, sneezing, no energy for anything except watching 72 episodes of Breaking Bad and hiding my eyes from Walt Whitman's y-fronts.

Today I was able to levitate from the couch, get on my bike and attempt a route with no hills.

I set off slowly from Drimnagh, felt ok, ploughed on towards Island Bridge, through Chapelizod where ye olde worldy feeling begins to creep in on you.
Up Knockmaroon hill, past the magnificent buildings either side, then left down the hill, to the sanctity of Lower Road - aka Strawberry Beds.

Lower Road is one of the most beautiful, mystical roads in Dublin - hands down.
At this time if year it will fill you with an awe, an autumnal joi de vivre - but make sure you're layered up, even in a heatwave, Lower Road will be cold and damp.
There's a lot of history along this road, you can feel it and see it.
There are ancient pubs, old factory mills, remains of old iron bridges, overgrown estate entrances and the sights and sounds of the river as it winds along the road next to you.

Lower Road has an ethereal atmosphere I haven't found anywhere else.
Want some misty, ghostly shots for anything? This is the road for you, especially first thing in the morning, the heavy mists hover over the river and envelope you as you cycle silently by.
If the sun is shining, the light is dream like.

It's a good road for a peaceful, slow trundle, if you're feeling that way. Though if it's a rare day it's not windy, it can be a good road for speed too. See how the mood takes you.
In Ye Olden Days, they did actually grow and sell strawberries along here, there's still a strawberry fair every year.

The 3 pubs along Lower Rd, the Angler's Rest, Strawberry Hall and the Wren's Nest are all old, like 18th Century old. The last two both quietly claim to be the second oldest pub in Dublin and I'd believe either. I've looked online, but can't find any concrete establishment dates - neither of these pubs seem to shout their age or make a play for the tourists, neither are particularly popular, except with locals, which all ties into how untouched this area remains.

The only scourge modern Ireland has made on the Strawberry Beds is a small one, but an unforgivable one - several thousand speed ramps that seem to go on forever. If you over hear a cyclist swearing going over these ramps, it will be me.

I stopped a few times today along Strawberry Beds, to loudly blow my nose, look up at Shackletons mill and take some photos.
It was nice to stop and look.
Once I reached Lucan, I cycled through and on for Leixlip, somewhere I didn't think I'd been before, until I realised I'd been out for dinner there and been to a wedding..

Kildare is very old isn't it.
Lots of old estate walls and old estate entrances.
Arthur Guinness leased his first brewery in Leixlip too, before he signed the 10,000 year lease for St Jame's Gate in Dublin.

Leaving Leixlip, I took a little detour along a path for walkers along the River Rye, if I'd had more energy I would have kept exploring, but thought it better to stick to my planned 45k route.
Back along Confey, over the Grand Canal and back home along Strawberry Beds, then past loads of people in Phoenix Park throwing sticks up at trees for conkers.
A great trundle without hills, I felt much better for it.

Lower Road aka Strawberry Beds, there's no footpath along most of this road, so if you don't have a bike/ car/ penchant for being knocked over - you're stuffed.

I can't find anything out about this old bridge. It goes over the road and over the river, be great to know why.
Ha - I've been told the answer (Thanks Brian Mc) this is called Farmleigh or Guinness Bridge, it used to carry electrical cables up to Farmleigh and sometimes staff who worked in Farmleigh used the tunnels as a short cut up to the house, here's the wiki link.

Autumnal joi de vivre coming soon to Strawberry Beds, October 2013.
Strawberry Hall dating from the 18th Century, but don't tell anyone.

I pulled in to take a photo of the old wall when this mob (possibly Blanch Wheelers) sailed by. NB guy at the back huffing about something - or cold nips.

And then they were gone, like ghosts, they disappeared. I told you, this road is other worldly.

Shackletons Mill/ Anna Liffey Mills built in 1820 to mill flour, which it continued to do until 1998.

The old Mill is now owned by Fingal Co. council who hope to open it to the public as a museum. They bought it in 2002.... it's 2013 now.

There are some great photos from the inside of Shackletons Mill taken by Tim Durham

Just before you arrive into Lucan there's a chimney which used to belong to the old 'Hills of Lucan' Woollen Mill (formerly an Iron Mill). There's an amazing photo taken outside this mill in the 1960's which I just found on a great website called Lucan Newsletter.

Someone has tried to scratch out 'The Original Home of Guinness' - why, I don't know.

The Salmon signs and a pub at the end of the bridge called 'The Salmoner' would lead me to believe this section of the river is full of Salmon.

River Liffey, Leixlip.

There was actually nothing here except this plaque, the original brewery assumed dead.

See what I've done here, digital Leixlip left, Olde Leixlip right.

I think this is the section where the Liffey is joined by the River Rye from the right.

Did you know Arthur Guinness was born in Celbridge? Me neither.

That Tinker Hill road sign has lasted 23 years without being knocked over - despite several apparent attempts.

Kids throwing sticks up at the tree to get conkers. Shame it was an Oak tree = long wait.

Lots of deer around the park today - they should really have been provided with helmets given the amount of stick throwing going on.

Just saw that QOM  ^^^ there and thought wtf? How? Looked at it, and I'm the 1st of 1 female riders (on Strava) to go along Kelly's Lane - go me. It was a nice area round there too, for future route planning.