The Antrim Coast

Y’know, I’ve stayed in some really good places on this trip: Ariel House, Garnish House, The Moorings, Saddler’s House. Now, I’m at the Old Rectory and I have to say I like it best of all. This is not to denigrate any of the other places I’ve stayed – they were all great – but the Old Rectory is absolutely amazing.

Mary and Gerry are both great people – friendly and helpful and very welcoming. My room is great, and breakfast this morning was the best I’ve had in Ireland. Again, this is not to say I haven’t had good breakfasts in other places, but this one tops it.

So, if you’re coming to Belfast (and you should come to Belfast – it’s a wonderful city), this is the place you want to stay.

Anyway.

Today I took a tour of the Antrim Coast with the Black Taxi company. Norman was my driver, and he was a really good guide. Unfortunately, it rained pretty much all day, so we didn’t linger at a lot of places, and where I did go, I got soaked. This also meant that some of my pictures didn’t turn out because of water on my camera lens. But I got some.

Our first stop was the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.

This is the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. It’s about a hundred feet above the rocky sea, linking the mainland to an island. Fishermen used to use it to cross to the island for salmon fishing.

Here’s a shot from the island side of the bridge. In some ways, coming down the wet metal stairs was scarier than crossing the narrow, bouncing rope bridge.

This is the kind of rocky island terrain around Carrick-A-Rede.

Some of the islands off the coast at Carrick-A-Rede.

The next stop was the Giant’s Causeway. It really started raining and blowing out there, so I have fewer usable pictures than I wanted.

The Giant’s Causeway was pretty much awash with waves and rain and spray. But it was very cool.

I got out farther on the Causeway, but those pictures are all spray-splattered.

Speaking of spray-spattered, this is the Gaint’s Boot. It’s about four feet tall.

High up the wall of the coast is the Organ, a set of stone rods that look like organ pipes. I walked up there, but again, the weather messed up the pictures I took. But they were cool.

Then we were on to Dunluce Castle.

This is the first view I had of Dunluce Castle as we came over the hill. Very impressive.

The castle sits on a rocky island, with steep cliffs all around.

The castle is connected to the mainland by a bridge – it used to be a drawbridge.

On the mainland part of the ruins is the remains of the lodgings for the castle. You can see that the building used to be two storeys, with small rooms, each containing a fireplace.

The remains of the castle gatehouse.

The castle itself had a seventeenth-century manor house as the main building, complete with bay windows.

Looking out of Dunluce, across the water to a high field. In medieval times, a town surrounded the castle, and the fields have been partially excavated, revealing the remains of houses and shops.

One of the remaining towers, perched high above the sea.

At that point, cold and wet and tired – there was a lot of walking, and a lot of that walking involved steep hills and slippery stone steps – we headed back to Belfast. I spent some time drying off and warming up, and then went out to dinner. I had planned to go to a restaurant called The Barking Dog, which Mary had recommended, but they were booked. Instead, I went around the corner to a place called Abacus and had some very nice chow mein.

Tomorrow, I’m going to hit the Ulster Museum, Friar’s Bush, and The Crown. My trip is almost done.

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