my northeastern coastal drive through Northern Ireland

County Antrim Travel Blog

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Dunluce Castle in the townland of Dunluce, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland

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.

view from within the walls of Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland
5m (~8.2ft) barrier for a sneak peak and a few photos.  The castle in the townland of Dunluce is perched on a tall peninsula is surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides and offers splendid views of the sea.

 

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.

Dunluce Castle in the townland of Dunluce, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland
  Shortly after, I reached the Causeway, a coastal area of geometric basalt columns.  At ₤5 (~$7.70 US), admission to this pentagonal version of Q*bert was a bit steep, but the views were magnificent and I had fun climbing around the volcanic rock formations of this natural landscape.

 

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.

Old Bushmills Distillery, Northern Ireland
  Although, I got out of my car to grab a picture of a Church of Ireland (that being the faith of the late Iris Hewson, Bono’s mother) protestant church and cemetery, I wanted to keep moving, so I did not attend the festival.  Leaving town, I picked up two hitchhikers from the Czech Republic and gave them a ride to Glenariff Forest Park.  Given my time concerns and the falling rain, I declined to stay for a hike with my passengers and continued on my own after letting them out.

 

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.

Evans at the whiskey tasting at Bushmills, Northern Ireland

 

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.
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Dunluce Castle in the townland of …
Dunluce Castle in the townland of…
view from within the walls of Dunl…
view from within the walls of Dun…
Dunluce Castle in the townland of …
Dunluce Castle in the townland of…
Old Bushmills Distillery, Northern…
Old Bushmills Distillery, Norther…
Evans at the whiskey tasting at Bu…
Evans at the whiskey tasting at B…
Evans at the whiskey tasting at Bu…
Evans at the whiskey tasting at B…
more unionist colors along the nor…
more unionist colors along the no…
path to the Giants Causeway, North…
path to the Giants Causeway, Nort…
Evans on the way to the Giants Cau…
Evans on the way to the Giants Ca…
Evans (right) on the Giants Causew…
Evans (right) on the Giants Cause…
Evans on the Giants Causeway in No…
Evans on the Giants Causeway in N…
ravine by the path to Carrick-a-Re…
ravine by the path to Carrick-a-R…
cliffs of the mainland from Carric…
cliffs of the mainland from Carri…
Caves & Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge…
Caves & Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridg…
bag net salmon fishing shack on Ca…
bag net salmon fishing shack on C…
View west from Carrick Island, Nor…
View west from Carrick Island, No…
Evans & another tourist on Carrick…
Evans & another tourist on Carric…
Evans & another tourist on Carrick…
Evans & another tourist on Carric…
Church of Ireland (Protestant chur…
Church of Ireland (Protestant chu…
Glenariff Frost Park, Northern Ire…
Glenariff Frost Park, Northern Ir…
scenic wrong turn down Glenariff R…
scenic wrong turn down Glenariff …
Red Bay from a sheep pasture in th…
Red Bay from a sheep pasture in t…
random gate that a local erroneous…
random gate that a local erroneou…
County Antrim
photo by: WalterC