Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland::North Antrim Coast — Day 16

Sunshine in Ireland

Sunshine in Ireland

As promised, the sun was shining this morning. Sarah, the host of Drumcovitt House, thought it would be a good day to visit the Antrim Coast. Our plans were to visit the Giant’s Causeway, then walk over the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and then drive down and visit the Glens of Antrim. Unfortunately we got a late start and the walk to and wait at the bridge was longer than we expected, so we didn’t get to the Glens of Antrim. It’s a pity because it looks like they are lovely.

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle

We drove north to Portstewart and drove along the coast, stopping for a few minutes at Dunluce Castle. We also stopped in Bushmills for some reason — perhaps to buy drinks for lunch (and no, we skipped the whiskey) — then carried on to the Giant’s Causeway.

Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway was formed when the Giant, Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill) built it to fight the Scottish giant Benandonner. When he saw the size of Benandonner he ran back to Ireland and jumped into a pram. Benandonner chased Finn into Ireland and when he saw Finn in a carriage he thought, “If that’s the baby, I don’t want to meet the dad.” Benandonner then ran back to Scotland and broke up the bridge.

Some people, however, say the causeway was formed by a volcano.

A column of columns

A column of columns

It is unique in that it is made up of tens of thousands of mostly six-sided basalt columns that form stepping-stones that eventually fade into the sea. This is one place I never thought I’d go in my lifetime, so it was pretty special that I was finally there. On our visit to Scotland a few years ago I especially wanted to visit Fingal’s Cave becasue I figured it was the closest I’d get to anything like the Giant’s Causeway.

It looks like the setting of a movie that takes place on Mars — that’s how alien the landscape is.

Scotland

Scotland

After walking around the causeway, marveling at the sight, snapping photos of the columns and even seeing Scotland in the distance, we were hungry for lunch. One of our guides to Ireland mentioned a picnic area atop a sea cliff just down the road, so we drove there and ate a picnic lunch of our usual bread, cheese, fruit and soft drinks.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

After that we drove back a bit to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge.

Over 300 years ago fishermen strung a rope bridge between the mainland and a tiny island about 65 feet off shore. They would use this bridge to get to the island which was where the salmon came round the coast. The fishermen don’t use this anymore, according to Wikipedia, but lots of tourists do. I’d first heard about this when Andrew’s rugby team went to Ireland — they were scheduled to cross the bridge. I thought he’d like to do it this trip, but I was not planning on going with him. I knew Clare’d get a kick out of it too, and suspected Dean would want to go.

On the bridge

On the bridge

When we got to the bridge, after a small hike through beautiful landscape, I decided, why not? The bridge was not as long as I thought, and I’d heard there were some interesting birds on the island. We stood in line for a bit, then we each went across — the sign said no more than 8 people on the bridge at a time. I would have liked to cross alone because other people made the bridge bounce.

on the bridge

on the bridge

It was pretty darn scary. Really. I never looked down — the kids said they did. I just looked straight ahead while the wind buffeted the bridge and the folks on the other side watched us walk towards them.

When I got to the other side my first thought I had was, “Joy! I made it!” my second thought was “Crap! I have to do that again to get back!”

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of someone crossing the bridge. They weren’t afraid to look down.

Sat on the grass

Sat on the grass

We walked around the island – it was very beautiful and we saw a few birds — razorbills, shags, gulls, guillemots, and other sea birds I couldn’t identify. Clare and I lay down on some soft tufts of grass for a while. I tried to not think of the journey back.

Finally we decided to get in line to go back. The wait was not so bad because I watched a shag or cormorant dive in the sea below us.

The walk back -- into the wind

The walk back -- into the wind

When it was our turn to go, we noticed that the wind had picked up and the people ahead of us were being blown more than before. The trip back was worse than the trip to the island and sea spray reached us from below. Clare and Andrew thought I was funny, being scared and all — but Dean said he was too. It was definately the scariest thing we’d done on the trip — even worse than the boat ride to Skellig Michael or Dean’s driving the first day.

We opted to head back to Roe Loft and explore the grounds instead of going onto the Glens of Antrim.

Dean and I went to a pub in Feeny before picking up some carryout for dinner while Andrew and Clare explored Drumcovitt House grounds again.

Fairy Glen Trail video on Vimeo

More Day 16 photos on Flickr.

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Roe Loft at Drumcovitt Barn, Feeny, Northern Ireland — Day 15

Parkduff Cottage and the 4 Ones

Parkduff Cottage and the 4 Ones


We left County Clare and Parkduff Cottage this morning with mixed emotions. On one hand, the house was dusty & cobwebby and had only the minimum of necessities (like forks). On the other hand, it was by the sea. Clare and Andrew liked the house better than Clare and I did. They liked the cottagey feel of it.

Along the route

Along the route -- this may be Yeates country

The drive to Feeny & Drumcovitt House was long and tiring. The countryside, though beautiful, was not a lot different than what we’d seen before — cows, trees, pastures, dry stone walls, sheep, and occasionaly mountains.

We stopped for lunch at a small town on the way and rested from the ride so far and for the ride ahead. Our GPS was set for the next accomodation and we finally arrived at 5:00 pm. There was really no indication that we were entering another country when we crossed the border into Northern Ireland. What difference peace and a few years makes!

Drumcovitt House

Drumcovitt House

Drumcovitt House itself is a lovely manor house with a round tower. It is over 300 years old and until a couple of years ago was a bed and breakfast. Now the young Sloan family lives in the house, and only the barn rooms are available for rent.

When we got to the house we were all ready for a nice rest, then dinner. I rang the doorbell of the office and was greeted by dogs barking. I tried again, but no luck. The owners knew we were coming and said everything would be in order, so I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. Dean was unhappy about this turn off events.

Drumcovitt Barn

Drumcovitt Barn

Clare was the one to notice a wet envelope on the pavement about two yards from the office door. She picked it up and saw that it had a name on it. She realized it was for us and opened the envelope. Inside was a note from Sarah, the proprietor, apologizing for not being there — they were celebrating their son’s birthday away from the house– and telling us to make ourselves at home.

Tara ourside Drumcovitt Barn

Tara outside Drumcovitt Barn

We walked around the barn and tried the doorknob of Roe Loft. It didn’t budge. I re-read the note and saw that Sarah mentioned a key she was going to put into the envelope. I looked in the envelope, but it wasn’t there. We went back around the barn to see if perhaps the key had fallen out. Clare did it. I did it. Dean did it and I think Andrew also looked. No key. Door locked. No one home.

I then noticed that Sarah had given me her cell number, so I made my first cell call in Ireland with my Sidekick (that I’d set up to use to make calls overseas). Sarah answered right away and after I introduced myself she said, in a sticken voice, “I forgot to leave the key!” She then apologized and said she’d have someone come around straight away to open the door for us.

Grounds of Drumcovitt House

Grounds of Drumcovitt House

A few minutes later a young woman in a car tore up the driveway, let herself in the house, then came out and unlocked Roe Loft for us.

The house is lovely. The kids especially liked the cable television — lots of channels. We unpacked and settled in. Dean and I went to town and bought some food for dinner.

Clare, Andrew and I went on a tour of the grounds. This is a working farm with sheep and cattle. We walked along the fairy trail, hoping to spot some fairies. While we didn’t see any fairies, Clare saw what she thought was the rump of a goat walking over a small bridge. We later discovered it was probably a badger.

Drumcovitt Cows

Drumcovitt Cows

We stood in the middle of the field. The sheep were curious, but then ran away. The cows just kept on coming closer and closer — and even licked our raincoats. We think they liked the salt from our Skellig adventure.

For dinner we ate pan fried steak, prepared chicken Kiev, vegetarian chicken nuggets for Clare and a salad.

The kids are watching television and Dean has gone to bed. I’m writing this from the bed that Clare and I are sharing. (this cottage only has two bedrooms so the girls are sharing a bed and the guys get the twin bedroom).

Because tomorrow is forcast to be sunny, we think we’re going to drive along the Antrim coast.

More Day 15 photographs on Flickr.