This was an action packed 4 night weekend in Country Antrim. Most of us managed to take in the Titanic Exhibition in Belfast, where this unfortunate ship was built, as a prelude or a postscript to some truly fabulous walking. Accommodation was two adjacent cottages on a small estate between Portrush and Bushmills. On Friday morning, after a spot of car juggling at Portrush and at Bushmills, we set out from the picturesque fishing port of Portrush on the Causeway Coastal Path. This path took us from the village via coastal ridges and sandy beaches to the castle of Dunluce, a stunning medieval ruined castle, (occupied by MacQuillans, MacDonnells the earls of Antrim) built on the edge of a basalt outcropping connected by a bridge to the mainland on the coast, basalt being the prime feature of the coast. The Causeway visitor centre was the low point of the day, not worth the entry fee. Dinner was at the Bushmills Inn, fine dining for weary walkers.
On Saturday morning all eleven of us took in the main Giants Causeway heritage site (quiet after departure of any tour buses). This did not disappoint, hexagonal stepped formations, tall towers of basalt, and much more. Having visited 'the organ' and beyond we retraced our steps a little to ascend to the cliff-top and carry on along the Causeway Coast. The scale of this site can really only be appreciated by continuing the walk. The basalt formations extend for miles along this coast. Even the photographers took a rest as each corner revealed even better views, long sandy beaches, limestone cliffs with deep caves, afternoon tea by the beach at Ballintoy before the final push to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, arriving just two minutes too late to cross, although some might have been relieved due to gusty winds. An excuse to go back at a later date. Views of Rathlin island, Islay and the Mull of Kintyre completed the picture. A little bus took us to the harbour at Ballycastle, where the local Marine Hotel managed to fit us all in for some good food, with a bit of live music thrown in.
On Sunday morning saw a few of us sightseeing in Belfast, where in addition to the museums, both an Orange march and a military-style funeral were spotted. Eight of us took the ferry to Rathlin island, a nature reserve. Highlights were the RSPB reserve at the lighthouse, where puffins, cormorants, nesting ravens were all viewed with the help of the binoculars provided and the assistance of the enthusiastic RSPB volunteers. A bus trip back to the harbour, where the driver provided a free guide to the island and history and even deposited us in the best location to view the basking seals, was the icing on the cake.
A trip to Bushmills distillery on Monday morning completed the weekend.
Thanks to Catherine, Dave, Efisia, Emma, Jane, Jeff, Nathalie, Mary, Marin and Rodica for joining me and being such great company on this amazing weekend, when even the weather was in our favour.
Report by Deirdre
Portrush....the start - Photo by Deirdre
Follow the Causeway Coast Way (CCW) - Photo by Deirdre
Stepping out on the sands - Photo by Deirdre
Stunning views - Photo by Deirdre
Dunluce Castle - Photo by Deirdre
Taking a break - Photo by Deirdre
Reaching the World Heritage Site - Photo by Deirdre
Hang on to your hats! - Photo by Deirdre
To add scale - Photo by Deirdre
More basalt formations - Photo by Deirdre
Carrick-a-rede rope bridge - Photo by Deirdre
The ferry - Photo by Deirdre
Rathlin island - Photo by Deirdre
Basking in the sun - Photo by Deirdre
We made it! - Photo by Deirdre
We made it! - Photo by Deirdre