Beaten by the elements, the northern coast of Ireland is invigorating tranquility, suited for a winter nestled by the fireplace or a summer bracing the wind on coastal trails.
Giant’s Causeway is the showpiece, while the rough coast is dotted with ruins and solitary farmsteads that make for a great outing.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is the other big draw, now open year-round, a 15-minute drive away.
We had spent the night at the Crockatinney Guest House near Ballycastle. The rooms are simple comfort, the owner friendly, the breakfast solid. The heaters are those eco-friendly types meaning they look modern and produce little heat. We were all frozen by morning. The approach from the gate is not well-marked and at night it is easy to go the wrong way and find yourself in the fields, in daytime the house is visible over the hills. This is a solid low-mid budget option compared to the many mid-high price options along the coast. The owner’s husband appears to double as the ‘Ace of Cabs’.
We supped at The Cellar in Ballycastle.
Driving the coast west through Bushmills and on to Londonderry/Derry is a parade of views to distract from the steering wheel.
Bushmills is home to the eponymous distillery with tours and custom-labeled bottles in the gift shop. We lunched at the Bushmills Inn where Deb warmed by the fire, “This is where we will stay next time.”
Dunluce Castle is £5 to enter the castle, free to clamber down to the cave below, guess where everyone heads?
Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House we approached in steady rain and setting sun, marching up a hill peppered with sheep dung.
I wanted a peek at Londonderry/Derry, but it was too greedy to attempt in the short weekend. It took us farther out of our way that I thought just by looking at the map due to heavy traffic and narrow roads, even on a Sunday night. We had time to get a warming coffee before the shopping mall closed, everything else already appeared closed, and with a few glimpses of the city from under our umbrellas, it was time for the long, dark drive through rain back to Dublin.
A successful, exhausting trip capped by getting lost again in Dublin. Rick and Deb put up with me with great patience and good humor. I will be back for Skellig Michael.