The coast of Northern Ireland is a lot different to the Australian coast. Sandy beaches are few and far between with rocky shores and towering cliffs taking their place. And did I mention that it's raining? It's summer here but it is cold, wet and windy.
But it is summer here so, after calling into Dungiven (where dad's grandfather is from), we got ice-cream. I'm still not sure if it was the best idea. Sure it was tasty, but it was freezing. Thinking about it, the ice-cream had much in common with the coast we were exploring that day: cold, nice, and (supposedly) summery.
If the Irish know one thing, its how to make you cold, then very cold, then freezing. Especially in what they call summer.
Portstewart, neither a port nor a stewart, is where we got the ice-cream.
Other than getting ice-cream, our aim for today was to get to and explore the famous Giant's Causeway and nearby Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. The place we were currently eating ice-cream at, Portstewart, was twelve miles from the causeway via a picturesque coastal route. Along this route, sandy beaches were easily outnumbered by towering cliffs and green fields above a deep blue Atlantic ocean.
Did I mention there were castles too? Dunluce castle.
A few of these green fields were in fact golf courses, one or two of which had been rated as some of the best in the world. We didn't have time (or clubs) for golf, so via Portrush (neither a port nor a rush), we found ourselves at the Giant's Causeway.
Spot the tourist. There was one behind the camera too, but he was a bit more cynical about the attraction.
Unfortunately, a good portion of the American, Chinese and European populations had also found themselves at the Giant's Causeway. Tourists. Can't go anywhere without them coming along too.
After walking down a hundred or so stairs and round to 'the amphitheatre', a nearby attraction featuring similar pinnacle structures attached to the side of cliffs, we walked to the causeway. The hexagonal pillars are fascinating and, without knowing anything about how they were formed, certainly have a mythical quality about them. The biggest part of the causeway (there is a separate, smaller causeway right next to it) works its way into the ocean towards Scotland. It is no longer like the land bridge it is thought to have been, but more like a ramp leading into the ocean.
While the real giants were building the main causeway, the kids were working on this smaller one. BTW that hill in the background is much steeper when you start climbing it.
The main causeway is actually fairly tall.
The mountain that leads down to the causeway. Edited with VSCO Film, which I think has helped the hill stand out from the sky really well.
The causeway was good (and free!) but not absolutely fantastic. I suppose it's one of the touristy things you have to do when you visit Northern Ireland but, because of that, everyone's doing it. If we're honest, I enjoyed the scenery around the causeway more than the causeway itself.
The beauty of the Irish coast is better than a tourist-attracting-set-of-rocks. Don't get me wrong, that set of rocks were good, but the stuff around it was great.
Stunning. Oh, and that does look like a real beach!
A handheld panorama, edited with VSCO Film.
The above photo was taken after crossing the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. Although I hadn't heard of the bridge before, Mum had good memories of when her parents visited it (I'm not sure if she was with them or not). Back then things were less "occupational health and safety", and more "let's build a bridge with just one rope for you to hold onto as you cross between fifteen metre high cliffs safety".
But as much as OH&S can get annoying, I'm glad that it was around when I visited the bridge. Even then, with very little chance of anything going wrong, it was scary.
A very VSCO-esque image of the bridge in all its glory. Made with VSCO Film.
"Hey Shrek! I'm looking down" - Donkey.
Once over the bridge, you find yourself on a little island still used (I think) by salmon fishers as a point to launch their boats from (you can actually spot a boat in the first image above, roughly in the centre of the image). It's quite a fun island to explore, despite the lack of fences at the cliffs. Oh, and there are some places where it's smelly. Like really, really bad smelly.
A smelly portion of the island.
Another VSCO Film edited image. I just love the texture and shape of the rocks, especially how they're accentuated by the yellow. More beautiful than a causeway built by giants (don't tell the giants I said that).
That there was one of our days spent out of rainy, cold Belfast and instead out in the rainy, cold countryside. Although I shouldn't be so cynical since, as you can see, things had cleared up by the afternoon. In fact, it got so warm (i.e. not-cold) that we took our jumpers off. I know right, we didn't see that coming either.
Would I recommend the Giant's Causeway? If you can guarantee a deduction in the amount of tourists then yes. Otherwise, probably. I would love to visit it again perhaps at night (if that's allowed) when there are no bodies around except the celestial ones. I would just avoid bringing ice-cream, no matter how good it tasted.
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