It’s the middle of the week and I feel like Monday. The reason for this mild confusion and complete disorientation is the fact that I went road tripping on Monday and only came back late last night from a spontaneous trip up North with my lovely friend and her new car Baby.
We decided to ignore the weather and took the coast road from Belfast over Carrickfergus and Cushendall, past Carrick-a-Rede and its famous Rope Bridge to The Giant’s Causeway. It was beautiful drive and we had our fair share of sun but with drops of rain here and there. ABBA was our constant companion and in-between our private (in my case off-key) karaoke sessions we stopped to see the sights, smell the salty sea air and enjoy the stunning views.
Our first stop, after a pee and coffee break at an outlet store just behind the border (and yes we couldn’t help but browse) was Carrickfergus (Rock of Fergus). This little coastal town is built around an old castle by the same name and this old Norman fortress is one of the best preserved on the island. As we wandered around entering times long past and exploring what history has left behind we soaked up the sun and sights.
the top of Carrickfergus
an outdoor window-seat in the oldest part of the castle
peak-a-boo with the sea
one of many large metal rings, for what I do not know
On our way back to the car we passed a tiny little marina, fishing boats merrily boobing in the water, a crumbling tower sparkling in the sun light and a big seagull waved us goodbye.
From Carrickfergus the scenic coastal road took us around many bends, up and down hills and had stunning views around every corner. Because we didn’t want the bossy sat-nav woman to give out to us all the time we went “vintage” and I read the map, while trying to find the hidden signs and decipher them. We passed by idyllic villages and remote houses set back into the hills, stunning view from their panorama windows enticing the thought to maybe quite the city life after all. And a particular little town called Ballygalley made me smile and come up with all sorts of rhymes making my friend laugh so hard we nearly ended up flying off the cliff.
But after a long and beautiful drive we arrived at Cushendall where our B&B was hidden away. Our map withheld the information so our trusty female companion was released out of the glove compartment and in commandeering tones instructed us where to go. The lovely landlady greeted us with a smile that was only trumped by the spectacular view and offered us tea and home made cake before we went out again to look for a few waterfalls.
morning view from our B&B
With our walking shoes on we entered Glenariff Forest and decided on the shorter and more scenic route, after all dusk was approaching fast. The greens of the forest were damp from the fresh rain, a wet, woody scent was in the air and we could hear the rushing water in the distance. We walked down man-made wooden steps and suddenly it was there, the cold water glistening in the last rays of sun light, inviting us to jump in. Although tempted we declined the invitation, skinny dipping in the shade is not so much fun after all and the water was a funny shade of brown. After enjoying the waterfalls and our downwards walk we made our way back to the car, puffing and panting up hill. With a final look over the valley down towards the sea we drank huge gulps of water and set back to Cushendall our tummies growling for food.
shamrocks under a tree
waterfall in the woods
After a button-popping amount of food and a good nights sleep the sun woke us to the smell of a lovely full Irish breakfast. Not able to resist the alluring scent of sizzling bacon, eggs, tomatoes and sausages we savored every bite hoping that our clean plates would mean sunny skies. As we put our bags in the trunk and said goodbye, the wonderful landlady gave me a freshly baked loaf of boiled fruit bread complimenting me on my sunny nature and sense of humour. If the view hadn’t made me happy that morning her lovely words would have.
With map in hand we wound our way around the coastal bends towards Carrick-a-Rede, chasing the sun as the rain let the windscreen wipers work overtime. But as we parked the car and made our way toward the famous rope bridge the clouds moved on and made way for warm rays and sunny light. The short stroll to the rope bridge was as active as an anthill with visitors from west and east taking photos, viewing and chatting. Most braved the winds and dared to cross the 60metes drop into the crashing waves below on the short rope bridge, only few declined and decided to go for a wander on the marginally safer cliffs edge. The dare devils that we are, we happily skipped and bounced our way over to the little island that use to be a fisherman’s paradise and is now a bird sanctuary.
a sign on the island
a view from the island
flowers on the edge of the cliff, one foot out of place and a deep drop down
safely fenced in
detail from the door to the rope bridge
Back safe and sound on the mainland my friend and I took a little walk back to the car admiring the views, enjoying the sun and taking our time. The wind played with our hair and carried the squawking, squeaking and shouting of the birds over the cliffs edge making the air alive with noise and smells too.
But the hedges along the side of the cliff were just as alive, with bees buzzing, flies summing and insects crawling around on a variety of leaves and flowers. And just as we turned the last bend we had a stunning view on Sheep Island. Sadly as soon as were back in the car the Irish weather had caught up with us again and a downpour of water accompanied us all the way up to Giant’s Causeway.
view on the bridge from the mainland
some honeysuckle growing on the cliff
some pretty and prickly thistle
Sheep island, only accessible by boat
Water was running down the roads when we pulled into the car park at Giant’s Causeway so we decided to flee the rain and take some refreshments in the tea-rooms. Again the variety of visitors was interesting to watch and after a short wait we were ushered in to the warm but mainly dry dining hall. A wide selection of Irish goodies was laid out, ready and waiting to be picked but my friend and I settled on some scones with butter, jam and cream and some hot tea. As we waited for the rain to subside we munched happily on our treats and watched the waiters hurry around serving soup, sandwiches and cakes, always in a flurry ,always with a searching look and a the question “is this for you” in their eyes.
scones … photo taken for a specific someone
dining under chandeliers
Although there was still a bit of a drizzle and the skies were still gray we wandered down to the magnification causeway. These 60 million year old volcanic formations are really a wondrous sight. It is hard to believe that these hexagonal basalt columns are completely natural, it is however not surprising that this unique work of nature is such a visitors attraction and has inspired the locals to tell the story of the Giant Finn McCool and how he made the causeway to cross over to Scotland.
as it is slippy, wet and windy this could come in handy
some hexagonal volcanic stones
The Giant’s boot lies discarded on the stones
Slowly, wet and happy we made our way back to the car and as we turned away from the coast and headed back towards Dublin ABBA sang “The Winner takes it all” . We wholeheartedly agreed, feeling like winners as we took two wonderful days filled with memories back home with us and in my case even some delicious homemade cake.
last view of the coast