Antrim coast

The Antrim coast between Royal Portrush and Ballycastle, contains a number of genuinely interesting attractions, and certainly enough to satisfy the thirst of a non-golfer. Indeed, a golfer who decides to extend an extra day, won’t be short changed either

By far the most famous of these is Ireland’s self-styled ‘8th wonder of the world’, the Giant’s Causeway. These are millions of hexagonal basalt columns, that meet the wild ocean in a series of bays and headlands. They are unique. You have a degree of freedom to explore them.

Brought to you by Finn McCool, the Giants Causeway

© photo by Gerd Eichmann / Wikimedia Commons / licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
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It’s only a short-stop along the Antrim coast from the causeway to the Carrick-u-Rede, rope-bridge. Here you are invited to walk along the narrow single track that straddles mainland Ireland with a neighbouring rock in the sea. In other words, this is your chance to walk over the Atlantic, which should you need any reminding, is that frothy water swirling 70 feet beneath you.

The bridge was used by ancient fishermen (never really sure we’ve ever understood why?). No one’s ever fallen off the bridge, but there have been a fair number of people baulk at the return (which is where today’s fishermen come to the rescue). Just close your eyes and recite some stirring poetry, it’s a lot less undignified, and cheaper, than having to call out the rescue boat!

Don’t be afraid. No one has ever fallen off

© photo by Shiraz Chakera licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 through Flickr
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Some of you will have taken the opportunity to sample some of Scotland’s whisky. Well the Irish also partake in the production of this clandestine chemical warfare weapon. The most famous of their distilleries is the ‘Bushmills’, which just happens to be on the road between Portrush and Ballycastle. Fear not. We don’t schedule this before a trip to Carrick-u-Rede, albeit the faint of heart might prefer some ‘Dutch courage’

The final trio in the ‘attractions’ of the coast that completes this string of pearls is Dunluce Castle. Few citadels can enjoy a more spectacular, or precarious, location in the world, than this 13th century ruin, albeit the current castle dates to the 17th century.

Antrim coast

Dunluce Castle, historically the seat of the Earl of Antrim

© photo by Udit Kapoor / Wikimedia Commons / licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
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It would be remiss however if we failed to draw your attention to the latest apex draw of the Antrim Coast, although in fairness this isn’t strictly speaking on the coast, but about 10 miles inland instead and involves a brief 10 minutes detour on the way back to Belfast. The box office hit ‘Game of Thrones’ was largely filmed in Northern Ireland and few locations can have gone from local peculiarity to international recognition with the speed that the ‘Dark Hedges’ has. Indeed, the location (a public road/ lane) has seemingly even taken to changing its name to reflect this. The lane features a series of ancient beach trees which have overgrown to form a canopy

Professional photographers have produced a series of atmospheric pictures of the Dark Hedges using ‘light’. Many are stunning in all honesty. We thought it altogether more honest however to use something a little bit closer to the truth

© Copyright image Colin Park (left)
© Copyright Rossographer (right)
Both images licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 Terms of licence [CLICK].

If you have no interest in Game of Thrones, then we could understand why you might prefer to give the Dark Hedges a miss. If however you’re something of a fan, then it probably rates as a ‘must see’. It’s not a difficult detour to pull-off, but you are advised to try and avoid the crowded times, which naturally you’ll probably be able to do as the chances are golfer’s will be doing this either coming from, or returning to, Belfast