|Tuesday, 4 September.
Today dawned cool and misty and stayed that way for the greater part of the day. It turned out to be very suitable weather for the main outing of our journey into Northern Ireland (NI). We decided to take up the suggestion made by our acquaintances of yesterday and drove up the East Donegal coast to Greencastle. Along the way, we crossed into NI at Lifford, out again at Muff, north of Londonderry, and finally back again via the ferry from Greencastle to Magilligan Point. From there, we drove along the Causeway Coastal Route, through Coleraine and the resort towns of Portstewart and Portrush to the Giants Causeway.
At Five pounds, parking seemed a bit steep, but at least we didn't have to pay for anything else. The misty weather was perfect as we walked down the steep path to view Finn McCool's creation, the Giant's Causeway. The grey water and black rocks were very evocative of the legend of Finn McCool, the giant who lead the army for the Kings of Ireland. He constructed the causeway to cross over to Scotland and take home bride. This brazen action incurred the wrath of Bodaburr, a Scottish giant who crossed to Ireland to fight Finn and take back his bride. Finn's wife disguised him as a baby and told Bodaburr the Finn was off hunting. When Bodaburr saw the size of Finn's "baby", he took fright and retreated to Scotland, tearing up the Causeway behind him. Of course, the sceptics would say that the incredible hexagonal pillars are just the product of geological activity, but I don't think there are any formations like these in lands without giants...
Whatever the reason, the scenery around the causeway is phenomenal. There are some incredible formations and rock structures all around the area. The park has many walks, both down at shore level and up on the cliff tops. It would be easy to spend a lot of time here, just wandering the wilds, but we restricted ourselves to a 4km hike along the beach and then up the cliff steps and back along the cliff top to the visitor centre. After leaving the causeway, we drove along to the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. This is a very scary rope bridge over a 30m drop to the ocean below. Although we were keen to give it a go, the rather expensive admission fee put us off - at least that's our excuse. Perhaps they need the money to pay for the insurance and funerals....
So, on we went to Larne, our scheduled overnight stop. Our drive continued along the Causeway Coastal Route to Cushendall, where the road meets the sea - literally. For the rest of the way to Larne, at least 40 km, the road hangs on the edge of the land. Sometimes it is quite high, but usually it is almost at sea level and squashed in between the mountains and the sea. Almost on cue, the weather cleared as we reached Cushendall and gave us an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the drive.
We reached Larne around 7 pm and found our B&B for the night. Our host, Jim, was delightful and as soon as we settled, brought us a bottle of red and sat with us while he gave us some ideas for the next day in Belfast. Although the weather was the wettest we have experienced since arriving in Ireland, it didn't detract from a great day. Until next time, "slán abhaile". Marie, Angela and Ray.