Further Afield, Belfast
Only a 5 minute drive out of Belfast this is just one of Northern Irelands many ancient celtic sites. Surrounded by a ring of earth mound are the stones (My description does not do it justice) The feeling as you wander this site is indescribable, sound travels in strange ways here and there are fluctuations in temperature depending on where you stand, and even if you can't feel the magic here you'll probably enjoy rolling down the mounds of earth!
Stange honeycomb shaped volcanic rocks stretching out into the sea and emerging from the hill. This is a great day-trip out of Belfast. Close by is a small train you can ride on, sorry I didn't go so can't tell you more, but for whiskey buffs if the Bushmills whiskey distillery fairly nearby also where you can take a tour of the distillery and have a tasting. There is a tale that goes with the Giants causeway about the giant but ask while you're there - don't want to give everything away!
If you decide to stay at North Down's premier resort, Bangor, you will be assured of a stunning sea view. From the grand boarding houses along Seacliff Road on the way round to Ballyholme this what you can enjoy from the window. This is the mouth of Belfast Lough where it joins the Irish Sea. All shipping en route for the capital will pass you by. The air is bracing with salt and sure to envigorate the tired soul. Breathe it in and relax. You know you deserve the treat!
The Giant's Causeway is located about an hour and a half's drive from Belgast City (by motorway - longer by coastal route).
Quiet simply the Casueway is breathtaking and one of Ireland's most stunning pieces of landscape. To visit the north of Ireland and not visit the Causeway is unthinkable.
Tghe causeway was formed thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption which resulted in the formation of approx. 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns. The sight is breathtaking and is one of the world's most unique sights.
Legend has it that the giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill (fee-yun mok cool) constructed the causeway as a crossing to Scotland to fight another scoottish giant. The legend reports that Fionn fell asleep before he made it to Scotland and that the Scottish Giant came looking for him. When he saw the giant coming, Fionn was scared and asked his wife Úna to wrap him in a blanket and pretended he was a baby. When the Scottish giant saw the 'baby' he thought that Fionn Mac Cumhaill was the father and ran away himself, thinking that if the baby was this big, the father (Fionn) must be enourmous!
I will soon have a more detailed description of the Giant's Causeway and sights which will be posted on my Co. Antrim page.
Bangor’s hertitage as a seaside resort and affluence is marked by the abundance of splendid Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Many of these houses provided board and lodgings for holiday makers. People came from all over Ireland to enjoy the sea air and Bangor has been described as ' a most salubrious, invigorating and alluring resort' by a famous visitor. Charles Dickens is said to have taken a holiday in Bangor and to have bathed in the bay at Ballyholme.
The pastel shades these houses have been painted is a tradition that results in a striking and pleasing effect at the seafront.
Located 20 minutes east of the Giant's Causeway is the famous Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. There has been a rope bridge in existence at this location for 350 years and was primarily used as a crossing for fishermen to the small Carrick Island. The bridge is 20 metres long and is suspended 30 metres above the rocks and sea below.
Visitors flock to the rope bridge not just for the thrill of crossing it but also for the amazing views, scenery and wildlife around the coastal area of Carrick-A-Rede and Ballintoy. Views across the sea towards Rathlin Island and across to Scotland can also be enjoyed on a clear day.
Many people who come with the intention of crossing the bridge turn back when seeing it and there have even been incidents of people crossing onto the island but refusing to complete the return and had to be lifted off the island by the coastguard or boat. Don't worry though, the bridge can withstand a weight of up to 10 tonnes!
More details to follow on my Co. Antrim pages
The exclusive club house of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club at Bangor was formally opened by the Commodore in April 1899. It is permitted to use the 'Royal' title because the club has enjoyed the patronage of members of the British monarchy throughout its history. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, (husband of Queen), is presently the Commodore.
Needless to say, you need to be well connected to become a member here!
This photo is part of
The Giant's Causeway, in county Antrim. The Causeway consists of thousands of basaltic columns of volcanic origin, forming three natural platforms, and extends for about 3 miles (4.8 km). There are several large caves and rock formations. According to legend, the Causeway was built for giants to travel across to Scotland!
The Mourne Mountains are in the south of County Down, and are one of the beauties of Northern Ireland. There are 12 shapely summits rising above 2,000 feet, the highest of which, at 2,796 feet (852 m) is Slieve Donald. If you intend to venture out into this barren and sparsely populated, but beautiful area, I suggest you take a raincoat! It poured with rain all the time I was there.
Paddywaggon Tours offer a range of 1-10 day tours, including the 1-day tour from Belfast and Dublin, which takes in the Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle & historic Derry. It cost £18 from Belfast (Aug 2008), which we found to be a very good price for the service we received.
We found this a very interesting, humorous and informative tour. We learnt a lot about the history of Northern Ireland and the recent and older conflicts.
The tour does not include the optional crossing of the rope bridge (£3.70 adult, Aug 2008), or the optional tour of Derry (£4.00, Aug 2008). The area around the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge can be enjoyed without paying a penny, and you can walk right up to where the bridge is, for no fee at all.
I highly recommend the tour of Derry, which was also extremely interesting and informative. You can also explore Derry on your own.
The stop at Dunluce Castle is only a brief photo stop, and is an amazing view.
NOTE: The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is NOT wheelchair/pushchair accessible, and the route contains many steps and hills. The Giant's Cuaseway IS accessible to everyone, and there is a shuttle bus, which runs regularly up and down the route, which is relatively flat.
You can book online, and the website also gives you more information about the tours and pick-up points in Dublin and Belfast. This is an all-day tour, leaving Belfast at about 9am and returning at about 5.30pm. If you start the tour from Belfast it is a much earlier start (about 5.30am bus, to meet up with the group at Belfast).
We booked online the night before, using the free internet service at the Belfast Paddy's Palace, where we were staying. We were picked up from outside the hostel.
Dunluce Castle is instantly recognizable for its unique setting - the edge of a cliff!
The home of the MacDonnell cheiftans, including Sorley Boy MacDonnell, who fought for and lost the castle twice -in 1565 to Shane O'Neill, and in 1584 to Lord Deputy Essex, but he managed to regain it and fortify it's armaments with cannons from the wreck of the Spanish Armada ship, Girona in 1588. The dramatic setting has played a part in its history - the kitchen, including 'the staff and all the pots' fell into the sea on a stormy night.
The Giant's Causeway is a World Heritage site of phenominal natural beauty. There's a nice walkway to explore the area, including a 5 mile circular walk.
You can catch a minivan from the Visitors Center to ride down to the site, or walk along the paved roadway to enjoy the view.
Caused by volcanic activity 60 million years ago, the polygonal columns astound the visitor to this site - the most often visited part of Northern Ireland. Of course, the Irish have a folklore version of its origins: The giant, Finn MacCool put the stones in place as a highway across the sea to Scotland.
If you enjoy a nip of 'The Water of Life' now and then, you'll thoroughly enjoy a trip to Bushmills. The tour takes you through the steps of the whiskey-making process - Mash, fermenting the Wort, distilling the Wash,Maturation, and finally mixing and bottling. Then comes the good times!
Volunteer to be a taster! My friend Barb and I both were chosen and had a wonderful time! We proudly bear the status of Certified Whiskey Tasters!
A man-made attraction near the natural Giants Causeway - the rope bridge at Carrick-a-rede. The foot path is 1/2 mile long to the swaying rope bridge 20 meters across a 30 meter deep gap.
My fear of heights precluded actually walking across this thing, but the view is terrific. Its also a great place for bird watching, and there's a nice assortment of wild flowers along the walkway to enjoy!
The town of Antrim has a nice walking tour available, or you can just do your own walking tour. The Antrim Castle Gardens (not much left of the ruins of the castle - destroyed in fire in 1922). Also a great round tower built in the 9th century.
The Gardens are a delightful way to spend an hour or two, but they can be hard to locate. Just park your car at the Antrim Forum and cross the walking bridge over 6-Mile Water River, or park in the shopping center parking lot and walk to the Barbican Gate then follow the left river banks to the gardens. There's an ancient motte, spectacular parterre, a lovely long canal, ponds, and demense walk.