The wild Atlantic Way is a route that covers nearly one and a half thousand miles of the west coast of Ireland from Malin Head in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork.
We decided to split the route into three stages. The first stage would be from Ballina in County Mayo to Cushendall in County Antrim. This would be ridden over 3 days. It would be called the Wild Atlantic Way Classic Scoot (Series One) and would attract scooters from all over Great Britain, Ireland & Belgium
Day One: Thursday 22nd August
Because I was leaving Thursday morning, I decided to top up with petrol Wednesday afternoon, leaving me just to ride on in the morning. Thursday, morning I loaded up the Lambretta with my gear, but I noticed my 2 litre container of oil was missing. I had left it at the garage Wednesday! So I rode to the garage and luckily it was still there.
After leaving Belfast I headed up to Toome in Antrim to meet Victor Currie and Mark McClurkin. The weather was grim, but it was expected, so I had prepared.
Tip for GoPro Users: All my riding is accompanied with my GoPro which I have to charge while riding. Using the GoPro in the rain is a bit tricky because the connections are exposed. The GoPro only holds about an hours worth of charge. So unless your prepared to stop and replace the battery with many others, your sort of stuck, but what I do now is have the cable connected to the GoPro is use a dollop of Blu Tack around it so it seals the connection.
By the time I got to Toome, I had found out my Oxford waterproof trousers were leaking as were the gloves. The gloves have only been worn half a dozen times and the trousers twice. Here ends my faith in and usage of Oxford gear. Mark and Victor soon turned up and we then headed on to Cookstown, Omagh, then Enniskillen. Here we met up with members the Lambretta Club of Scotland and good friend Andy Vass. He was waiting for others who had diverted to a pub.
Continuing on, the group size had increased. The rain was trying to clear with the odd spell of sunshine and as we approached Sligo the weather did get better. The riders were doing well and it wouldn’t be long until we would be reaching Ballina, but the first engine casualty was Mark Morrison. Suspicion was a ring peg, but diagnosis was for a later date as Sprouley had brought the back up van. He picked up Mark and his Lambretta.
We soon arrived in Ballina and the group separated to the accommodation they had booked. Myself, Decy McGrath, Mark McGlurkin and Victor Currie stayed stayed in the same place. Also at the same place was Andy Vass, Toot, Glenda, Michael, Mick and Faggy. I was glad to see old friends again. I don’t get to see them very often, so I’m always happy to see their smiling faces.
It was good to get to Ballina, the starting point of our Wild Atlantic Way ride. After unloading our gear we went to a couple of pubs in town. “We met up with friends again and made new ones. I probably go on about this every time I write about a rally or trip on the Lambretta, but it is the second most important point to all this. The first is obviously riding the Lambretta”.
Total miles for the day 194
Day Two: Friday 23rd August
(This was the first day of the 3 day ride on the Wild Atlantic Way Classic Scoot).
We got up and packed our Lambretta’s to meet up at the rallying point. Those attending were to be given a printed copy of the chosen route. Along with a legshield banner and a sticker. This was when I realised I had lost my box of memory cards for the GoPro. Now I would have to be really tight with the footage.
There was a fair crowd of scooters gathering, mainly Lambrettas, but someone sneaked in a GTS! Once again, a chance to catch up with friends before we would all wish each other luck as we all headed off. I was to ride ahead to find a point of interest and film a ride by with the drone. All set up and ready, it was done. This was easy. Well it would have been had I pressed record.
Just before reaching Drumard, Marty’s Lambretta came to a halt. I pulled over and the first suspect was the suppressor cap connection to the plug, but after it failed to start, we didn’t know the cause. Andy Vass and his group pulled up and after another attempt to diagnose the issue, it was deemed to be the reeds failing (a known issue with GT186 kits). Marty called Sprouley in the back up van and picked him and Emily up. I carried on with Andy Vass Shane Hunsdale and Co. A while later we caught up with my group and I cut off to join them.
Riding towards the last stages of the day, although with stunning scenery, the roads were to get smaller and really bumpy. A near miss on a bend with a car at Muckross reminded me to focus harder on these tight roads. The last stop of the day was Malin Beg before we rode on to Ardara.
(I think) We rode through Enniscrone, Easkey, Aughris Head, Beltra, Strandhill, Sligo, Rosses Point, Mullaghmore Head, Bundoran, Ballyshannon, Donegal Town, Killybegs, Malin Beg. Ending the day at Ardara
Total miles for the day: 165
Day Three: Saturday 24th August
(Day two of Wild Atlantic Way Classic Scoot).
Departing the lovely town of Ardara was delayed after a Vespa belonging to one of the Scottish lads wouldn’t start. It was loaded onto Sprouley’s van, swapping places with Marty’s Lambretta. It was back on the road after Mark Morrison replaced the reeds (a known issue with GT186 kits). The weather was good as we left Ardara, but it was to change after we met rain which was to challenge us on some very bendy and slippy roads. Shortly after passing Cularick, Decy had a puncture, which had the quickest wheel change on a Lambretta I’ve ever seen, when one of the Scottish chaps used his Snap On Tools Torque Gun. Wheels swapped we headed on and when we stopped at a garage for a break at Gortahork we met Andy , Shane, Toot, Glenda & Co. Andy had a front disc brake failure. He had the front hub stripped. While he was fixing it, we rode on stopping at Fanad Head. After many more miles and a thrash between me and Shane there was to be no more issues before reaching Buncrana. Marks brother Gary was to join us here.
Once again we checked into our lodgings for the night and went for a pint and bought food to eat back at the B & B.
(I think) We rode through Lettermacaward, Dungloe, Crolly, Bunbeg, Gortnahork, Dunfanaghy, Greeslough, Carrickart, Kerrykeel, Fanad Head, Portsalo, Letterkenny, finally getting to Buncranna late afternoon.
Total miles for the day: 155
Day Four: Sunday 25th August
(Day three of the Wild Atlantic Way Classic Scoot).
This was the final day of the planned route. The weather was to be good today. Once again there was a delayed departure, due to Decy’s petrol tap breaking at the tank. Sort of fixed (there was a slow leak), we headed to the meeting point at the garage. A few riders were heading on back to Scotland & England. After their farewells we rode on. Great scenery again and one of the best spots of the day was picked for an attempt to get some drone footage of the Lambrettas. Once again, this didn’t work. The next stop was Mailn Head. This is the furthest most point of the Island of Ireland.
Riding through beautiful countryside we arrived at Greencastle and took the ferry across to Magilligan Point. We missed out Muff & Derry by getting the ferry. Once across we had another delay after another breakdown with Ross Clarkes engine refusing to start. We had planned to ride through Portrush, Portstewart, Ballycastle and Torr Head, but after the delay, we decided to cut across directly to Cushendall. I had to stop to fix my GoPro back on the helmet, but this gave me a chance to give the Lambretta a thrash to catch up with the others.
We arrived early evening being greeted by Monsieur Vass, Glenda, Toot and Co. Showered changed and a short walk into town for a couple of pints and dinner.
(I think) We rode through Dunree Head, Mamore Gap, Carndonagh, Malin Head, Portaleen, Culdaff, Carrowmenagh, Cushendall
Total miles for the day: 168
Day Five: Monday 26th August
The sun broke and it was time to say our goodbyes which I never like. Especially to friends from afar. I was also heading solo back home to Belfast. Decy, Mark and Gary were heading home north and west bound.
The ride home was my last pleasure of amazing views as I heading back along the coast road to Larne. The depressing view of Larne signals the end of the scenic rides of the last few days. By 10.30 I was back in Belfast, before I headed on to my friend in Newtownards. Later that day I would find my box of memory cards in my Jacket.
Miles for the day: 59
The event which was attended by over 60 scooters was a great success. Mile munching every day on the Lambretta riding in groups small and large. Solo. It doesn’t matter. It’s an experience that I’ll not forget.
The Ulster Lambretta Club would like to thank all those who came along. A special thanks to Bart Verlinden, who rode over from Belgium.
Note: There are 3 stages of the 1,400 mile ride. Now with stage one completed. Plans will be under way for the ride of Series 2 in 2021. In 2024 Series 3 will complete the Wild Atlantic Way Classic Scoot.