After a few discussions with my brother and pouring over Google maps, we decided to start scouting for camping locations. Off the beaten track camping locations. Away from people and cars and people. After not much deliberation, we settle on the Ballyhackett/Binevenagh area. Unfortunately, after the sun coaxing me into having a drink in the backyard instead of cycling, we didn’t get out over the weekend.
Arranging to meet when I finished work on Monday 08/05/17 and with my brother a no-show, I decided to nip along the top path of Mountsandel Wood and back until he appeared. We met at the bottom of Bridge Street in Coleraine town centre, crossed to the Cycle path and proceeded over the bridge. Then following the path right up the hill past the County Hall and exiting at the Child Care Offices onto the Castlerock road, we continued up the hill. The left-hand cycle lane crosses over to the right side near the end of the main road at the Loreto College. The path/lane then continues through Articlave to Castlerock. approximately 5 miles/ 8.4 Kilometres.
After stopping at a filling station to get some energy drinks, we crossed the road at Hazlett House onto Dunboe Road and continued for a half mile before turning right onto the Ballywoodock Road. About a mile up the road we turned on to the Altikeeragh Rd, cycled another half mile up the road before turning onto Ballyhackett Rd and continuing for just over a mile. We left the Ballyhackett Rd onto the Burrenmore Rd and that’s when the lack of fitness kicked in.
On the Burrenmore Road.
The road started to get steep, although the view was nice.
We did have to get off and walk on two occasions. The first occasion when my brother’s toes and my fingers started to go numb and the second was when I ran out of steam. We continued up the road until it eventually dipped down and ran onto a dirt road.
Very little to no shelter.
We followed the road until we were stopped by a barbed wire fence and some very boggy looking terrain. We had a quick scour for a suitable camping area but being no further forward in our search we headed back home.
End of the road and time to go home
The rough trail back to the main road was nice and fast and felt like ‘real’ off-roading. I think I had a grin on my face the whole time. We headed back up to the crest of the hill and took another photo before our descent back down the Ballyhackett – Burrenmore road.Burrenmore Road overlooking Mussenden Temple, Castlerock and Portstewart.
We passed the road we previously used to turn on to this road and continued straight down. Stopping at the bottom corner of the hill to photograph the running water.
A pleasant surprise.
We decided to turn right off the road, through Downhill forest and exited across from the National Trust owned Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House and began cycling back to Coleraine. This followed the main Mussenden and Quilly roads. At the final picnic area before Coleraine, we stopped for a drink and chocolate muffins and headed home.
I was a bit disappointed we didn’t find a stealth camping spot, but the quality of the weather more than made up for it. The cycle was only 20 odd miles all in all, but it felt like twice that on the steep hills and I for one can’t wait to try more again.