my northeastern coastal drive through Northern Ireland
County Antrim Travel Blog› entry 32 of 68 › view all entries
I woke up to my alarm clock at 7:00am and got ready. The hostel shower had a hand-held sprayer attached to a box mounted on the wall. Water temperature was adjustable via controls on the box and it appeared the water must get heat as it passed through the box, rather than in a separate boiler, which in turn would ensure a nearly instantaneous and unlimited hot water supply. Having experienced a frosty shower or two in the past, I found this design to be a refreshing innovation.
Early to hit the road into County Antrim, I arrived at Dunluce Castle a half-hour before its 10:00am opening time, but the remains of the medieval fortress proved uncomplicated to penetrate. The stone wall provided an ideal surface for rock climbing and I followed a couple of German tourists over the roughly 2.
After a fun morning at the castle, I drove down the street to Old Bushmills Distillery. Established in 1608, it is the oldest licensed distillery in the world. At the end of the tour, I raised my hand when our guide solicited volunteers to taste the whiskies. In the blind tasting, I preferred the whiskies to scotch and favored Bushmills over Jameson. To the four tasters, our tour guide presented whiskey-tasting diplomas (each with our name printed on it) and he concluded the tour.
On my way to the Giants Causeway, I caught another glimpse of unionist symbols and circled through a neighborhood with blue, red, and white painted curbs and streamers of little Union Jacks strung across the street.
Ten minutes to the west is Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, a 20-meter (65-foot) suspension bridge crossing the gulch 30m (~98ft) high above the water that separates the island. The bridge I crossed was far more secure and safe than its predecessor of a few years earlier, yet it was still fun to watch some other tourists face their fears as they attempted to cross. The scenery from Carrick Island is splendid with tranquil seas, rocky cliffs, and mossy green hills in every direction. Half way down the precipice, a bag net salmon fishing shack projected from the crag.
Traffic on A2 backed up around Milltown due to the Heart of the Glens Festival in Cushendall.
On another scenic wrong turn down Glenariff Road (A43) toward Cargan, I paused to admire another tiny stone home ruin before reversing course back to Waterfoot Village. In Glenariff, I stopped at the ladder farms to ascend an inclined sheep pasture for a shot of the green waters of Red Bay from atop the foothill.
Unfortunately, I chose the wrong person to ask for directions to Glenarm Castle. I had parked by an old gate of stone bricks and iron bars when I asked a passerby about the castle. He told me this compound across the street was it. (Only years later would I discover that he was wrong.) I left disappointed that there was nothing to the castle, but words cannot describe the sights along the northeastern coastal drive, so I still considered my time well spent.