Rustic Nature - Causeway Coastal Route
Don't you sometimes pinch yourself when you discover unexplored places in your own country?
Charming countrysides, rugged coastlines and all the pristine landscapes that connect the two?
I was in a dilemma - because the best manner to explore this piece of paradise was of course to take a road trip - and I couldn't!
Don't get me wrong - I do have a valid license and I can drive. It's just that I don't have a British license and applying for 1 implies that my passport gets stuck with the DVLA for atleast a month. That's not feasible!
However, opting not to drive is awesome and works best for us. You get to take naps when you're returning back, munch when you're hungry without taking a stop-over and you can reserve energy for times when you'd like to click pictures or hike!
To top it off, if you're selective about the tour you're opting for - locals with hordes of secret info, who do not rush you - that's first-rate, isn't it?
Lets head off on a virtual tour full of myths, legends and fairy tales!
Derek 'The Bard' was our guide for the day & he was generous (and talkative and funny). Instead of a photo stop, we stopped for a good 15 minutes at Carrickfergus Castle. The strategic and well-preserved castle has witnessed innumerable events in history. There's a life size statue of King William at the forefront - which proves physical appearances are not a deterrent in attaining glory!
The tale: Orange carrots have a political twist! They were apparently cultivated by Dutch farmers as a tribute to King William of Orange – who led the the struggle for Dutch independence – and the color stuck.
Who would have thought! And I assume most of you believed it was another natural 'variety' of carrots!
We next had a pit-stop in Carnlough. A typical quaint Irish coastal village complete with a harbor, colorful boats and houses and miles of crisp sea in the distance.
A quick walk up the slope and we could see the curvature of the causeway coastal route. The Londonderry Arms Hotel in the locality is famous because Winston Churhill once lodged here.
A few minutes of fresh air and we were off to Carrick-a-rede.
The sturdy rope bridge to get to the 'Rock in the Road' (Carraig a' Ráid) island is evidently one of the scariest ones out there. Add some strong gusts of wind and you've got a dangling rope bridge over gigantic cliffs and a deep blue sea!
Do go over the bridge to the island, the views are gorgeous.
And if you stop - like I did, for a picture, ensure you're holding on tight! :P
Built by salmon fisherman to avoid fish going stale and the hassle of rowing around the island to get to mainland, this bridge is no longer a single rope one nor used by the fishermen anymore. The restoration carried out is definitely noteworthy.
The walk to get to the bridge is superbly picturesque too! We stopped every minute to admire farm animals and to also catch a glimpse of Rathlin Island.
Tiny tip: Avoid looking down and enjoy the scenery while you cross!
All the whiskey aficionado's would definitely want this to be on their radar! The oldest licensed, working distillery in the world, Old Bushmills Distillery is an ideal place to have amazing home-cooked lunch while you smell the malt in the air.
We had our heartiest lunch at Bushmills and then proceeded to try some of their smooth, rich whiskies. We were pleased as punch to purchase the 10 year old as an Xmas gift as well.
Although Derek would have taken us later to the Giant's Causeway we opted to skip the 40 minute whiskey tour and proceeded to the highlight of the Causeway Coastal Route - The Giant's Causeway.
Even before we could land at the Giant's Causeway Derek had another exciting folklore in store for us.
The tale: Of Giants Fin M'Coul and Cucullin
Centuries ago Fin M'Coul, an Irish Giant lived with his wife Oonagh at the Giant's Causeway. Cucullin a Scottish giant, on the other end of the sea, wanted to beat up every giant on the land. He had achieved this barring Fin M'Coul. When Cucullin came over for the same, Oonagh cleverly disguised Fin M'Coul as a baby and informed Cucullin that he were to talk softly as the baby was asleep.
When Cucullin saw the size of the baby he feared Fin M'Coul to be enormous and hence beat a hasty retreat destroying the path between Scotland and Ireland.The remnants of the path is nothing but the Giants Causeway - stuff legends are made of! Northern Ireland's only World Heritage Site.
That the basalt columns were formed by a volcanic explosion millions of years ago, adds to the aura of the place.
I was one of the tourists flocking to get a picture standing atop the columns too! And if you do venture to the topmost ledge, you will realize it is worth it, as the view on the other side is marvelous!
As the day came to an end, I realized Northern Ireland is one of the most understated parts of Europe - and it should't be so! It is one of the most stunning ones - and rightly so!
As we traveled back to Belfast I was already looking forward to Day 2 with McComb's, on the Causeway Coastal Route - going on a hunt for some ultimate Game of Thrones locations!
This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on the Causeway Coastal Route - described by National Geographic as one of the most scenic drives in the world!
Causeway Coastal Route
- Ensure you book a slot for the trip with McComb's via their official website
- The cost per person is £25 [as on 22nd December]
- Arrive at-least 10 minutes before the allotted pick-up time at the designated pick-up spot
- If you plan to cross the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge you can buy tickets at a reduced rate from your guide itself for £5 per adult
- The entrance to Giant's Causeway is free however there is a charge to visit the visitor center
- You wouldn't need to visit the center if it's only the Giant's Causeway you are interested in
- It is quite a walk to the Giant's Causeway. There is a bus that ferries visitors every 30 mins for a pound each, one way only
- Dedicate at-least 2 1.5 hours to the Giant's Causeway
- On rough days the Carrick-a-rede bridge is shut either for the whole day or for a couple of hours!
Which has been your most memorable drive till date?
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